Irregular Menstruation During Lactation: What You Should Know

· August 15, 2018
Irregularities in women's menstrual cycles have to do with alterations that occur in their bodies during lactation. This is a completely normal occurrence that will resolve itself with time.
Irregular menstruation during lactation is a completely normal situation. After pregnancy and while a mom is breastfeeding, it’s common for it to take some time before she starts ovulating again. Furthermore, when she does finally menstruate, ovulation may be irregular.

These irregularities in a new mother’s menstrual cycle aren’t related to any major health issues. Rather, her body needs time to readjust and go back to its original state. After all, she’s just been through 9 months of constant change.

While a mother is lactating, her periods may be very different than prior to pregnancy. In fact, there are women who take up to five or six months – or even more – to begin menstruating.

Other women may alternate between very normal menstrual cycles and other cycles that seem to have no rhythm whatsoever. In any case, a gynecologist will determine if everything is okay. If so, irregular menstruation during lactation will eventually correct itself.

The symptoms of irregular menstruation during lactation

Generally, menstrual periods during lactation present the following typical characteristics:

  • Periods that are more painful and abundant than prior to pregnancy.
  • Premenstrual symptoms appear, including abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness.
  • The appearance of lochia. Lochia is bleeding that includes blood clots, tissue and mucus that formed during pregnancy.

“Even though a woman’s menstruation is irregular, she may still be ovulating. Therefore, there’s a chance she can become pregnant”

Interesting facts about irregular menstruation during lactation

Prolactin, along with a woman’s hormonal and physical composition are determining factors when it comes to irregular menstruation. Different women have different prolactin levels, which is the hormone that causes irregular periods.

The hormone prolactin increases when a woman breastfeeds because it’s the hormone that allows for milk productionAt the same time, it inhibits the synthesis of sex hormones in the ovaries. Therefore, menstruation disappears or becomes very irregular.

Irregular Menstruation During Lactation: What You Should Know

A woman’s general physical condition also influences her prolactin levels. This explains why the type and duration of menstrual irregularity varies from one woman to the next.
In the same way, the frequency and duration of the baby’s feedings have an impact on prolactin production. Babies that nurse often and for longer periods of time cause prolactin levels to increase. The woman’s body must then produce more milk to satisfy the baby’s demand. Since prolactin levels increase, menstruation is likely to be even more irregular.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that even though a woman’s menstruation is irregular, she may still be ovulating. A woman’s first period is an indication that her reproductive system is going back to normal. Therefore, there’s a chance she can become pregnant.

It’s wrong to believe that a woman cannot get pregnant while she’s still breastfeeding her baby. While it’s true that fertility is lower during lactation, a woman doesn’t become infertile altogether.

If a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant at this time, she should use contraceptives that are compatible with breastfeeding.

Is it possible to speed up the process of normalizing menstruation?

No, there is nothing women can do to make this process occur faster. Irregular menstruation during lactation is a natural phenomenon. When a woman’s body has gone back to its normal state, menstruation will become regular as well. 

However, here are some suggestions that will help you feel more relaxed and less worried about your symptoms:

  • Your baby’s rhythm. If your baby sleeps more than 4 hours during the day and more than 6 hours at night, your irregularity will likely decrease. When your baby starts eating, he or she will start to nurse less. As a result, your prolactin levels will decrease, contributing to regularity.
  • Get enough rest. Rest is a fundamental part of breastfeeding and also of your body’s postpartum recovery.
Irregular Menstruation During Lactation: What You Should Know
  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco is always harmful to the human body. However, the harm is accentuated when your body has just undergone 9 months of pregnancy.
  • Drink plenty of water. When you’re hydrated, your anxiety levels drop. Water also allows the body to get rid of harmful toxins.
  • Follow a balanced diet.
  • Avoid stress. Look for ways to relax and enjoy this stage.
  • Include meditation practices like yoga. This activity will help you relax and focus your thoughts on your relationship with your partner and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a stage that you should enjoy, as it helps strengthen your bond with your child. It’s a time of your life that will impact you both forever. It’s important to not worry about irregular menstrual cycles. With time, your body will go back to normal.