Guide On Periods While Breastfeeding
New or first-time mothers have many questions about the changes in their bodies after giving birth. And of the top-most concern is about missed periods while breastfeeding. So to ward off all these doubts surrounding periods, we have curated this complete guide on periods while breastfeeding. First, you must know that if you have started nursing after birth, your periods will not return for several months. Some women may get no periods when nursing, while others may call it irregularly. However, breastfeeding is known to cause delays in periods, and to learn more about why and what makes that happen, continue reading this article!
Hormones for Breastfeeding
As a parent, you want to provide healthy food for your kids; however, breast milk is the most important and safest nutrient for a newborn baby, which will help them in their growth and development. Just as hormones support your pregnancy, they are also responsible for breastfeeding. Prolactin, specifically produced by the pituitary gland located in the brain, is the primary hormone responsible for breast milk production. Want to know how prolactin impacts periods? Continue reading further for the same!
Missed Periods While Breastfeeding
Prolactin, the primary hormone for breastfeeding, prevents menstruation and keeps the hormone level high so that you can nurse your baby for longer. Because the higher the prolactin hormone, the lesser you have to worry about increasing breast milk supply through other ways. On the other hand, when you stop breastfeeding your little one, your periods will most likely return to normal.
However, your baby will drink most of your breastmilk during the first few months. Therefore, your 5-month baby's diet food chart will still have breastmilk as an essential part. But if you introduce your little one to solid foods, the pituitary gland will sense the feeding has reduced. Thus, when prolactin levels go down, you will find your cycle to return to normal.
Changes in Feeding If You Get Periods While Breastfeeding
If you are on your periods while breastfeeding, you are most likely to notice specific changes in your baby’s feeding patterns. For example, your little one may feed lesser during your periods which is thought to be related to changes in the taste of the breast milk. Or it could be another way, where the prolactin levels have gone down during your periods, and your body cannot supply enough breastmilk, leaving the baby to feed multiple times.
Factors Determining When Your Periods Will Return
Although there is no specific timeline for the return of your normal cycle, every women’s body is different. Missed periods while breastfeeding may return to normalcy once you stop breastfeeding. As per experts, the time frame for normalising periods after birth is anywhere between 6 months to two years. However, several factors determine when your period will return to normalcy, especially if you are a nursing mother. Let us look at some of the reasons below
- ▪ How often do you bottle feed your baby
- ▪ Way your body responds to hormone changes
- ▪ How often is your baby breastfeeding
Do Irregular Periods Mean Something?
Many women have irregular periods post-birth and if they are breastfeeding. Irregular periods mean your cycle is shorter or longer than the usual 28 days. However, missed periods while breastfeeding is not the only reason; irregular periods can be due to several health reasons, which you will have to discuss with your doctor, and they can rule out causes such as -
- ▪ Uterine fibroids
- ▪ Extreme weight loss
- ▪ Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- ▪ Pelvic inflammatory disease
Missed periods while breastfeeding is not a significant cause of concern because, as mentioned in the article above, the prolactin hormones cause the delay. So as you start to ease up on breastfeeding, especially after the first years, and your baby gains more nutrition from other foods, your periods will be restored to the normal cycle. However, if you haven't been nursing your baby, you should have regular cycles soon after delivery. In such cases, if you experience irregular periods without even breastfeeding, immediately call your doctor.