Periods and Breastfeeding

Nature can protect you from becoming pregnant when you are breastfeeding, although using this as a method of birth control is not advised. This is due to an inborn mechanism that protects breastfeeding mothers from becoming pregnant before their baby is old enough to fully survive. Your hormones are stimulated by breastfeeding and milk production.

All women experience bleeding following childbirth. Mothers that bottle feed usually have their first period not longer afterwards. Mothers who breastfeed usually take longer for their periods to begin. This could be weeks, months or even years.

Some breastfeeding mothers completely wean before they get their first period and even if menstruation has returned it will continue to be irregular whilst breastfeeding. It is quite normal to have shorter or longer periods or even skip a period whilst breastfeeding.

The return of periods depends upon how frequently the baby feeds and how often they are given a bottle as a supplement or whether they have been introduced to solids. The mothers own body chemistry and the way it responds to breastfeeding is also taken into account. As soon as the baby suckles less on the breast, periods are likely to return.

You should remember that you are fertile once your periods have restarted and use precautions against unwanted pregnancies. However it is possible for you to become pregnant before you have your first period.

Most women tend to get pregnant following the first six months of breastfeeding as from six months onwards; the baby is old enough to survive on other feeding methods. The less you feed, the more likely you are to become pregnant.

You can continue to breastfeed once your periods have restarted. The milk is just as nutritious although due to hormonal fluctuations, some women do notice a temporary drop in the amount of milk their body produces just before or at the beginning of a period. The hormones will return to normal once the period has begun. This drop in milk is usually compensated by more frequent feeding.

You may experience nipple tenderness during ovulating and the days leading up to the period. You baby may detect a change in the taste of your milk just before you have your period which is due to hormonal changed in your body. This may make the baby less inclined to nurse.

The sore nipples and drop in milk supply is found difficult by some women. However this can be treated effectively by adding calcium/magnesium supplement to the diet upon ovulation to about the third day of their period. You should discuss this with your pharmacist or health professional.

This supplement prevents a fall in blood calcium levels which are thought to cause the nipple soreness and drop in milk. It is also thought to relive uterine cramping.

You can also relieve nipple soreness during ovulation by taking the herb, Evening Primrose.