Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods 137


With my first two children, despite breastfeeding exclusively and co-sleeping, my menstrual cycle returned about a month after delivery and remained on a normal cycle thereafter. So, when after my third child my period resumed and then suddenly stopped, I was admittedly a bit scared I was pregnant again despite always using protection. Upon attempting to research why exactly this would happen, all that could be found were forums, lots and lots of forums, that required a lot of reading to find even half answers. I decided to combine this info with some information from my mid-wife to provide answers for others who experience an irregular period while breastfeeding.

When should your period while breastfeeding resume, if at all?

When your period returns while still breastfeeding depends largely on how often you breastfeed and your personal hormone balance. According to the lactation experts at the La Leche League, on average those who exclusively breastfeed don’t have a period while breastfeeding for 14.6 months.breastfeeding period, period while breastfeeding

-About 7 percent of women experience a period within the first six months postpartum
-37 percent within seven months to a year
-48 percent during the second year
-Only 8 percent exceed year two, likely from the introduction of solid foods

These percentages are not accurate for those who supplement with formula or introduce solid foods within the first year. The general rule is: the more a baby nurses, the higher the chance there will be no period while breastfeeding.

What might cause a period to resume faster while breastfeeding?

Your period is more likely to return sooner after birth while breastfeeding if:

-You aren’t exclusively breastfeeding
-You’re bottle feeding at times (even if breast milk)
-Your baby sleeps for long periods at night
-There are complications that make breastfeeding more difficult
-You’re a first-time mom
-You have a higher BMI
-You’ve opted for hormonal birth control such as the “mini pill”

Are irregular periods normal while breastfeeding? Can menstruation stop and then start again as a result of breastfeeding?

Yes. You may experience irregular periods or spotting as a result of variances in the hormones released while breastfeeding. This could be a result of a decrease in nursing from, say, a sickness in your baby, teething, getting a sitter, or just changes in appetite. This is why some women may have a first period after delivery, and may even start having a normal period while breastfeeding, and then stop. Your own hormonal balance prior to breastfeeding may also affect how your cycle functions while nursing. This explains why in two previous pregnancies I had experienced a period while breastfeeding, but not with the third, my third baby was a piglet–always nursing.

Unfortunately, thanks to the volatile nature of hormones while nursing, there is no “normal” menstrual cycle while breastfeeding, but that also means there is no abnormal.

Why wouldn’t my period return if I stopped breastfeeding already?

If it’s been more than 8 weeks since you stopped breastfeeding and your period still hasn’t returned, there’s likely an underlying hormonal imbalance. This may be a result of a medical condition such as postpartum thyroiditis or PCOS. Lifestyle factors such as high or low BMI, excessive exercise, high stress, or low caloric intake can also be to blame, as well as age-related changes in those over 35. Given this, it’s worth discussing with your health care provider, especially if you have other symptoms.

Can you get pregnant while breasting?

Finally, with all those missed or irregular periods, how are you supposed to know if you’re pregnant? Can you get pregnant at all? Yep. It’s a pretty huge misconception that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding. Even if you aren’t getting a period, you can still ovulate. In most women fertility is decreased while breastfeeding, but not non-existent.  You can be on the look-out for other pregnancy symptoms if you experience no periods at all, especially when protective measures may have failed, or if you want to be extra cautious take a pregnancy test every month.

You may also enjoy:

Menstrual Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean

3 Ways You Can Be Pregnant and Still Have a Period

How Common Are False Pregnancy Tests?

Causes of Anovulatory Cycles

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Anonymous

Hi, I just wanted to say Thank you so much for this information. I was looking all over trying to find answer in regards to why I am not having my period again after I got it for the first time solely BF for 11months straight and now that I got it back. I became worried that it’s late this month. I am a week late and I will take a pregnancy test just to be safe, but this information eased my mind a bit, so Thanks

Marianne

Hi, My period is 16 days late (supposed to have it last June 7th), but it’s a no show. I gave birth to my DD last Feb 28, had my post partum period April 12-16 then May 10-16. I’ve always been regular; the only time I missed a period was when I was preggy. By the way, I’m exclusively breastfeeding. So going back, I ovulated May 24 and had unprotected sex on the 28th. Come June 7th, no period. I waited until June 10 to take a home pregnancy test but it turned out negative, then tested again on June… Read more »

Mel

Hi I gave birth july 2017 and i ebf my baby, he always fed at least 3 times a night and he didnt start food until he was around 8-9 months old. He has also never had any formula or a dummy. Now almost 1 year old he still breastfeeds as often as a newborn, day and night. My periods returned less than 3 months pp in September 2017. I track my periods with an app and they were pretty normal for me (average 33 day cycle). However the last 4 cycles have taken longer each time im at day… Read more »

Inah

I have a 13 month old, and I exclusively breastfed him. Now that’s he’s a year old I mix in almond milk along with him eating solids. He still nurses morning,afternoon and night. Two months ago my period came 3 days late. And this month it’s 3 days late again, I took 3 pregnancy test (one a week before my period was due, 2nd one 4 days before and the 3rd one on the day I was expecting). All the test came back negative. We haven’t been using protection but I’m worried because I’m late but the test aren’t coming… Read more »

Jennifer

Hi .My baby is a year and a month old and still breastfeeding him 3-4 times a day also at night and i got my period when my baby turned 1 which was on April 11 and still havent got my period late 4 days .having lower back pain and abdominal pain also alittle nausea sometime and less appetite .I made 4 home pregnancy tests just to make sure im not pregnant.
does this sound normal ?

emmawingard4

Jennifer, did you ever start? Or were you pregnant? I’m at 43 days since the beginning of my last cycle answer have the occasional nausea also. That’s freaking me out the most. But I’ve taken at least 5 negative pregnancy test. This will be my 4th period since my baby was born (she’s 16mo now) but still nursing alot, they’ve all been longer than normal, just thought I’d be regular by now.