Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods 136

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

In an effort to slay the spam monster and ensure no comment is left unread, your comments are moderated and won't appear until approved. Sorry about that, and thanks for reading!

136 thoughts on “Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods

  • Shantha

    Hi, I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding my 17 month boy and my period returned since he was 6 months old. It’s been consistent and regular 28 day cycle- I have not missed a month. Now I’m a week late but pregancy card tested negative? Could increased latching due to teething cause a missed period? It’s baffling as I have been regular for so long now.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Nipple stimulation can have hormonal effects, yes, if he’s suckling more as a result of the teething. Even in non-breastfeeding women, the occasional late period is considered normal. It’s usually a result of late or absent ovulation.

  • Sarita Fernandes

    Help !!!
    I had my baby delivered on 10th Sept 2017. My lochia bleeding stopped by 22 sept. My husband who is out of country working came down for 3 days visit n we had sex on 22, 23, 24 Oct 17 after that he went back abroad to resume job. After he went I got my period on 7th Nov 17…. 3rd Dec 17… 1st Jan 2018….28th Jan 18…28th Feb 18. Now its been 4 days delay and I haven’t got my period. My usual cycle is of 27-31 days. I never had sex after 22,23,24 Oct as I mentioned above. I breastfed my baby for 3 months exclusively day night. And after 3 months I breastfed day night along with formula milk and other solid foods. Please advice

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’ve had periods since November and no intercourse since, it could be from feeding level changes at night or just a normal late period. The occasional off cycle is considered entirely normal, and there isn’t always a clear reason why. It’s a pattern of weirdness you’d want to watch out for, especially if there have been no changes in feedings or your lifestyle.

  • Irish hermoso

    I had my 3rd baby on july 2, 2017 my period back when he turned 6mos. I exclusively breastfed him for 9mos. now, Before my period came this month my baby got sick I had sleepless nights and and Im very tired taking care of him and he didnt almost take solid foods and breastmilk because of his sickness.. I got my period on april 6 but it was just a spotting my period suddenly stopped. What happened to my cycle? Please advice. Thanks

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Changes in sleep cycle can actually affect your cycle, so it’s possible that the sleepless nights were the culprit. It could also be some hormonal flux from the feeding change while he was sick. Chances are it’ll self-resolve next cycle. 🙂

  • Josie

    Hope you can help, my post partum bleeding stopped at around 5 weeks, I started the mini pill but got my period every 2 weeks for 7 days (AHHH!) along with some awful skin changes, so I stopped it (and used other means of protection) my period then became regular and now all of a sudden it has stopped. My little girl is almost 4 months now and I have always and still am breast feeding exclusively, mine/her sleeping patterns have been consistent since she was born. Is it normal’ for it to just stop like this? I can’t even bring myself to do a pregnancy test, it’s totally freaking me out

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I would just go ahead and take a test, it’s the easiest way to ease your worry. It would be a little odd to suddenly have your period stop if there’s been no change in feedings at all, though it is possible little miss is eating less or more per feeding and that’s what threw things off. Around 4 months is when a lot of babies start to pick up and growth.

  • Mirjana

    Hi, I gave birth to my DS on September 3rd, he is now eight months old. I am still breastfeeding him but since he was five months old we started feeding him solids. He has regular meals 4-5 times a day and i throw in nursing 4-5times a day. We stopped the night nursing few weeks ago. Also, soon after delivery we started trying for another baby but all of my tests were negative. The last time was February 22. I really thought I was pregnant but the tests were all negative (blood and urine) so I am wondering is it normal that i still didn’t get my period? He sleeps through the night and really isn’t nursing much. I just figured I keep nursing as long as possible to boost his immune system.. Sorry for the long email and thank you.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      When menstruation resumes while breastfeeding really varies from woman to woman. Some ladies see it even while exclusively breastfeeding shortly after labor. Others can feed less than once a day and still not get a period. If you had a negative blood test, that’s a definitive answer. Urine tests can sometimes throw false negatives, but not blood. If you’re TTC, you might try ovulation tracking to ensure you are actually ovulating. 🙂

  • 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 ?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Normal period variance is actually +/-3 days, so at 4 days, you’re not super late. Since you have negative tests, I’d bet it’ll show soon. 🙂

    • 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.

  • 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 back positive. Any suggestions?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      There are some ladies who get negative home tests and end up being pregnant, in those cases a blood test is used to confirm. Normal period variance is actually +/-3 days though, so my thought here is it’s probably just normal hormonal flux. If it’s going to stress you out wondering though, I’d just go in and have the test done to ease your mind. 🙂

  • 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 43 just now and negative pregnancy tests. I have an appointment booked with my GP but I wondered if this is breastfeeding related although nothing has changed regarding his feeding pattern?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Possibly, breast milk tends to change with the needs of your child, so something like an illness that didn’t effect feeding levels could still potentially effect your breast milk and so your hormones. I think you’re making the right call verifying with your GP that it’s just the ebf though, especially since it sounds like it’s ongoing and getting worse, to me that suggests there might be something else going on.

  • 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 13,15,16,19 and 22 but they all came out negative. Also, I went to my OB to have a Transvaginal Ultrasound but she didn’t see a baby in my uterus (not pregnant), she just saw a polyp and told me I might have a hormonal imbalance. She gave me a medication for me to bleed but I’m yet to confirm it to my baby’s pedia if I could take it while bfing. She also told me to come back after taking it and didn’t bleed. I don’t know, I feel pregnant because I have tender breasts, urinates frequently, sensitive to smell, bloated, and sleepy most of the time. Am I just overthinking it? Right now, I have a spotting which started June 18. It’s just a brownish red spotting, it doesn’t soak a pad. Just a small spotting on my napkin, (sorry this is TMI) when I wipe down there I see it, then last night I had sex with hubby, he saw blood on his condom. I thought it was my period but no, it wasn’t. What do you think I should do? Do you think I missed my period because of breastfeeding? Am I just overthinking it?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Because pregnancy symptoms are actually caused by hormonal imbalance, hormonal imbalance often comes with symptoms most would describe as pregnancy-like. It is a little odd she chose to do an ultrasound rather than a simple blood test though (which could have also included a hormone panel). Pregnancy can be easy to miss on a very early ultrasound (depending on when she did the scan), and even in later scans there have been cases where a baby was well hidden (those cases are rare though). That your also seeing some spotting and had a negative scan to me leans towards it really being hormonal imbalance, but if your mind isn’t at ease, it may be worth it to request the blood test. It could absolutely be from breastfeeding though, yes.