Irregular Periods While Breastfeeding
Irregular periods while breastfeeding are the result of alterations that take place in a woman's body during this period. In general, it's a completely normal situation that will fix itself over time.
Irregular periods during breastfeeding is a completely normal situation. It’s common, after pregnancy and while a woman is breastfeeding, for her first ovulations to be irregular or take a while to reappear.
These irregularities in the menstrual cycle aren’t due to any major disorder. Our bodies need to readapt to their original state and recover after nine months of changes.
It may occur that, during lactation, women alternate between very different menstrual periods. There are some women who, after giving birth, don’t get their periods for five or six months, or even more.
In other cases, women alternate between menstrual periods that are very normal and periods that don’t seem to follow any rhythm at all. Your gynecologist will determine if everything is normal in your body. And, if that’s the case, then you can rest assured that the issue will resolve itself over time.
Generally, women may present the following symptoms during their menstrual periods during the breastfeeding stage.
- Very painful and abundant periods in comparison to those they experienced before their pregnancy.
- The appearance of premenstrual symptoms: Abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness.
- The appearance of lochio. This is vaginal discharge – bleeding – that contains clots, tissue, and mucous that generated during the course of your pregnancy.
While menstruation may be irregular, ovulation may still be taking place. Therefore, woman can still become pregnant during this time.
Prolactin and a woman’s physical and hormonal composition are determining factors when it comes to irregular menstruation. Different women have different levels of prolactin, the hormone that causes menstrual irregularity.
Prolactin increases during the breastfeeding period, because it’s what allows for the production of breast milk. At the same time, it inhibits the synthesis of sexual hormones in the ovaries. That’s why menstruation disappears or adopts very unstable cycles.
A woman’s overall physical condition also affects her prolactin levels. Therefore, the type and duration of irregularities varies from one woman to the next.
In the same way, the frequency and duration of a baby’s feeding impacts prolactin production. Babies that feed frequently and drink a lot of milk produce an increase in prolactin levels. So, a woman’s body must produce more milk to satisfy her baby. And, as hormone levels increase, a woman may experience more irregularity in her periods.
Another important aspect is that, although menstruation may be irregular, ovulation may still be taking place. The first period that occurs after giving birth is an indication that the reproductive system is going back to normal. Therefore, women can become pregnant.
It’s a mistake to believe that women can’t get pregnant while they’re breastfeeding. While it’s true that fertility decreases, it doesn’t go away altogether. If a woman prefers not to get pregnant during this time, she must use some sort of birth control method that’s compatible with breastfeeding.
The truth is no, this isn’t possible. The process is natural and normalization will occur when a woman’s body returns to her normal pre-pregnancy state.
However, there are some suggestions that help women feel more at ease and less worried about these symptoms:
- The baby’s rhythm. If your baby sleeps for more than four hours straight – night or day – menstrual irregularity is likely to decrease. In the same way, once babies begin to eat solid foods, they’ll nurse less. As a result, mothers produce less milk and prolactin levels decrease.
- Get enough rest. Rest is fundamental when it comes to breastfeeding and in order for women to recover.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco is always harmful to our bodies. However, the damage is greater when our bodies are impacted by nine months of pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of water. Hydration calms anxiety. Water allows the body to release harmful toxins.
- Maintain a balanced diet.
- Avoid stress, relax during this stage.
- Include practices like meditation and yoga. These activities are relaxing and will help focus your mind on your relationship with your partner and your child.
Breastfeeding is a stage that you should enjoy. It’s a time when you establish a bond with your child that will impact both of you forever. Therefore, it’s important for women not to worry about irregular periods while breastfeeding. It’s just a matter of time before things go back to normal.