Period While Breastfeeding

Many people believe that it is impossible to get pregnant while you are breastfeeding. It's true that breastfeeding does affect your fertility rate as long as you breastfeed exclusively. The hormones that produce milk decrease the amount of reproductive hormones a woman releases. If a woman breastfeeds exclusively, she often doesn't ovulate and doesn't have any periods. This doesn't last forever and many women will eventually have a period while breastfeeding. What does a woman do then?

When Will Your Period Return While Breastfeeding?

Many women will have a period while breastfeeding and there isn't a particular time when it begins to happen. Every breastfeeding woman is different as to when she will likely have her period. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, it is possible to have an ovulation between 9 and 10 weeks after having your baby. This leads to a period exactly two weeks later, which will be at about 11-12 weeks after having a baby. Other women won't have a period until their baby is one year old. 

On average, it takes about 6 months for a breastfeeding mom to begin having periods. You will be more likely to have a period while breastfeeding if these scenarios happen:

  • Your baby is eating solid food as well as breastfeeding.
  • Your baby is sleeping more than 4 hours in the daytime or more than 6 hours during the night.
  • Your baby uses a pacifier.
  • Your baby isn't eating very much in the daytime and eats less per time.

You will be less likely to have a period while breastfeeding if these things are true:

  • Your baby sleeps in the same bed with you.
  • You feed your baby many times in the daytime without solids or formula.
  • Your baby suckles for comfort and not just for eating.
  • You keep your baby in a sling with you in the daytime.

The time will also be affected by how much progesterone you have circulating in your body. If you have low progesterone levels, you may get your periods sooner than those women with high progesterone levels.

Will Breastfeeding Be Different After Period Comes Back?

A few women will notice nothing different when it comes to the period during breastfeeding. Some women will notice a few changes, including:

  • A brief loss of breastmilk just before getting the period and for a bit of the time during the period.
  • Tenderness of the nipples upon ovulating and having the period while breastfeeding.
  • The baby may eat less because of a change in what the breastmilk tastes like.
  • The baby may want to eat more because of a reduction in the supply of milk.

Most of the changes are brief and will not be very noticeable. It all depends on your hormone levels. After you have had your period for a couple of days, the breastfeeding will seem the same as before and you won't notice anything.

Heavy Period While Breastfeeding Just a Few Days After Giving Birth?

This is a normal phenomenon, more related to having just given birth than actually having a period. You will have built up a lot of blood while you were pregnant, so this amount of blood loss is not considered dangerous.

This kind of bleeding occurs because the placenta has detached from the uterus and there are blood vessels that are not exposed and will bleed from the lining of the uterus. When the placenta comes out, the uterus will tightly contract so that the blood vessels are cut off and the bleeding will be reduced.

This phenomenon is also called lochia. It is like menstrual period bleeding but is quite a bit heavier than a regular period and contains tissue and mucus coming from the uterus right after birth. This starts up a few hours after birth and lasts as long as 2-3 weeks. Some women, however, will experience this type of bleeding for at least six weeks after giving birth.

You will experience lochia initially as bright red bleeding for about 4-10 days. After this period of time, the lochia will lighten and become pinker in color. Gradually, it will come to be a yellow or white color and will eventually fade away.

What to Do About It

Lochia isn't a health problem and should be considered normal. It will go away without having to do anything. But there are some things you can do to make lochia not as much of a problem. These include:

  • Try to rest as much as you are able. Excessive standing or walking will make the lochia flow more.
  • Make sure you buy the heaviest maxi pads available, so you won't have any leakage.
  • Stay away from tampons in the first 6 weeks after you have the baby. Tampons can be dangerous right after birth because they allow bacteria to breed within the vaginal and uterine area, resulting in an uncomfortable infection.

If you think your bleeding is related with lochia, watch the video below to get more info about it: