Postpartum bleeding is common among women following birth, but many women are concerned about menstrual flow while breastfeeding. A period while breastfeeding is usually not common. This is due to breastfeeding’s ability to suppress periods for some time. Resources cite records of mothers not having periods for weeks up to a year while nursing. Which factors determine when you period returns during breastfeeding? How is period different from that of the usual times?

When Can You Expect Your Period While Breastfeeding?

Several nursing moms may restore regular menstrual flow 11 weeks after birth, while others menstruate after 24 months. Factors affecting menstruation include hormones and mothers’ nursing style differences. Earlier presentation of menses are often linked to weaning, bottle-feeding, subjecting infants to solid foods, uninterrupted sleep at night, and nursing duration and frequency changes.

In contrast, menses returning later is linked to round-the-clock breastfeeding, the infant preferring to suck the mom’s breasts instead of pacifiers or feeding bottles, and late solid food administration. Under various conditions, mothers may experience delayed or early period while breastfeeding.

Which Factors Determine How Soon Your Period Returns?

Breastfeeding mothers’ average time before becoming fertile and start menstruating is approximately six months. However, some factors were ruled out that may cause menstruation to return earlier like the following:

  • Your infant is following a consistent sleep pattern by sleeping around four hours in the morning or at least six hours during nighttime
  • Your baby began taking in solid foods
  • Your infant utilizing several dummies for sucking needs satisfaction like pacifiers or feeding bottles
  • Breastfeeding is combined with formula-feeding or water
  • Daily feeding frequency and duration has decreased

In contrast, menstruation is unlikely to return if:

  • You are feeding the infant exclusively with breast milk
  • You are co-sleeping with your baby
  • Your baby still feeds through the mother’s breast instead of other modes

Progesterone, a hormone found in generous among females, levels also emerge a vital factor when it comes to the time when menstruation will return. Lower progesterone level may cause nursing moms to menstruate earlier compared to women showing elevated progesterone levels. This case supports the reason why some breastfeeding moms may menstruate again and become fertile.

Will Breastfeeding Be Different After Your Period Returns?

Most mothers don’t notice significant differences on breastfeeding after menstruation cycle returns. However, some women note down the following changes:

  • Noticeable nipple tenderness during ovulation and menstrual flow
  • Drop in milk production that results to shortage in milk supply although it occurs temporarily days before or while menstruating
  • Infants demanding frequent feeding and in larger amounts due to the drop in milk production
  • Feeding problems because the infant does not want to drink more breast milk due to slight changes on milk taste.

Fluctuating hormone levels are often blamed when these temporary changes occur. Transitioning from pregnancy to birth subjects the body to dramatic hormonal changes, which affects different physical processes aside from breast milk production. Give it several days and the regular breastfeeding process and milk supply will return.

Do I Need to Wean Because of Change in Milk Taste?

Menstruation should not be a sign to wean off the infant from breastfeeding. Nursing while menstruating won’t cause health problems to the mother and the infant. Breast milk quality will remain the same after the body undergone the temporary changes although production may be slower and in smaller amount than the early months of nursing. A known sign that the milk taste is undergoing changes is when the infant refuses to feed and shows fussiness, which is observable for several days.

How to Manage Milk Supply Shortage

Milk supply shortage is also noticeable, but manageable by taking in natural supplements. Supplements galactagogues or nursing tea will increase milk production naturally. Over the counter supplements are also available for milk production boost. They contain vitamins and minerals blended in special formula designed for optimum milk production despite fluctuating hormonal changes. Mothers are advised to talk to their primary care provider or visit a local chapter of La Leche group for additional tips. Regular visits to the pediatrician is strictly recommended to ensure the infant is receiving sufficient nutrients through milk. Weight gain on infant will be monitored as assurance of complete nourishment. In case milk supply became very low to the point that the baby is not getting enough milk, the pediatrician will prescribe supplements for nourishment like formulas.

Watch Out for the Return of Fertility

Menstruation is a sign that fertility also returns. However, getting pregnant is also possible before menstruating again. Ovulation, the process wherein an egg is released from the ovary, occurs before menstruation. Therefore, pregnancy may occur before experiencing postpartum period if not careful in using contraception methods. Consider taking contraception as advised by your physician during your first post-delivery check-up, which is around four to six weeks after giving birth. Your primary care provider will suggest a wide array of contraception choices that suit your preferences. Inform your physician that you’re breastfeeding to ensure the contraception method won’t interfere with milk production or nursing. If you’re using birth control products before, you may ask your primary care provider if you can use the same option as long as they don’t affect breastfeeding.