Breastfeeding and Menstrual Cycle

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One item that many breastfeeding mothers have a benefit of is a delay in their normal menstrual cycle returning. While mothers who are not breastfeeding usually see a return of their cycle in the first few weeks following delivery, women who are breastfeeding often do not see a return to normal for several months or even after they stop breastfeeding altogether.

1 Effects of Breastfeeding

When our bodies are producing milk for our babies, it is due to a specific hormone, prolactin, being produced. This hormone also blocks or suppresses the hormone that causes menstruation and ovulation. If you are frequently nursing your baby prolactin levels may remain elevated in the body and prevent your menstrual cycle from returning to normal.

If you are frequently nursing your baby prolactin levels may remain elevated in the body

However, every mother who breastfeeds has their own unique experience and it is difficult to say exactly how a specific woman’s body will be affected while they are breastfeeding. If you are concerned about some of the symptoms you are having, you can talk to your doctor to learn more about them and to decide if they are normal.

2 Time Frame

Usually breastfeeding mothers finally begin to see a return to their menstrual cycle between six months and two years after they have had a baby. However, you should keep in mind that since every woman’s body is different, this time frame is really difficult to pinpoint.

duration and frequency of which you are breastfeeding

Another factor that alters the time frame is the duration and frequency of which you are breastfeeding. In order to be affected by breastfeeding, you must be feeding your baby exclusively, meaning you are not using supplements along with breast milk. When you do wean your baby, your periods should return to normal quickly.

3 Pregnancy Prevention

It is possible that breastfeeding will act as a natural birth control during this time as well because it affects both your menstrual cycle and your ovulation. However, you should not rely on this to prevent pregnancy because it is highly unreliable.

breastfeeding will act as a natural birth control

Some women begin ovulating even without a period, so it is important that you protect yourself against pregnancy in some other manner during this time as well. If you are hesitant to take birth control pills, try using condoms instead.

Another thing that may make your periods return faster is whether your baby enjoys using pacifiers or not. Every baby has the need to suck and some rely on pacifiers rather on a bottle or a nipple. This could affect the return of your menstrual and ovulation cycles, but this is not always the case.

4 Things to keep in mind

When you are breastfeeding, even if your periods have returned, you will probably notice some irregularities in them for awhile. You should keep in mind that if you are ready to become pregnant again, this may affect your fertility and make it harder to conceive. Even women whose babies are several months old have found it more difficult to become pregnant while they are breastfeeding.

When you are breastfeeding, even if your periods have returned, you will probably notice some irregularities in them

You should also remember that if you supplement with anything other than breast milk or if you do not breastfeed regularly; every 3 hours during the day and every 6 hours during the night; it is highly likely that your cycle will return to normal faster than if you are breastfeeding more regularly.

5 Periods during breast feeding

You should not expect your periods to be normal while you are breastfeeding or just after you have given birth. Many women report their periods being much different than they were before they became pregnant and it may take several months before they completely return to normal.

Mom and Baby

A woman who is breastfeeding may find that their periods remain irregular the entire time they are breastfeeding and actually affect the amount of milk that they produce while they are having their period.

6 Conclusion

When you are breastfeeding, you can expect to have a few extra weeks or months of not worrying about your menstrual cycle. However, this is not always the case and some women return to their normal cycles rather quickly following childbirth, regardless of their babies eating habits.

some women return to their normal cycles rather quickly following childbirth

You will need to make sure you are taking other precautions to avoid pregnancy during this time because it is still possible for women to become pregnant when they are breastfeeding, although it may be more difficult.

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Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.

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