Will Breastfeeding Stop My Period?

Woman, I sometimes wish I could make my period stop forever. There are a lot of factors to consider when you are wondering if breastfeeding will stop your period.

Unsurprisingly, there is a very large range of what is considered a normal time frame for women to get their period back after having given birth and while breastfeeding.

Your period will stop…

You will definitely stop menstruating once you become pregnant. After the birth, your body will eventually return to your pre-pregnancy state. That is, unless you are past child-bearing age.

In general…

In general, there is an expectation that breastfeeding equals birth control. Most people believe that as long as a woman is breastfeeding, she will not have a period. And for some people, that is true.

In theory, this should be true. Science tells us that if you are breastfeeding, you shouldn’t have a period. Prolactin, the hormone that is responsible for milk production after giving birth, also stops ovulation. If you aren’t ovulating, then there shouldn’t be a need for menstruation.

This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Women who just gave birth and have an infant to take care of shouldn’t be pregnant again right away.

And so…

The sooner a woman starts breastfeeding after birth, the longer the child is breastfed, and the more often a child is breastfed instead of using formula, the longer the woman should delay getting her period.

Most mothers who breastfeed their babies can expect to be without a period for between six to twelve months, although some mothers will take longer for their periods to return and to regulate. Missing a period while breastfeeding is known as lactational amenorrhea, and is completely normal.

While some women resume normal ovulation and regular periods when the baby is over six months old and is not breastfeeding as regularly, it generally takes between 9 and 18 months for periods to resume normally and for women to ovulate as before.

Weaning is a way to speed up the process, but regularly feeding or pumping when the baby isn’t hungry can delay the return of a regular period.

My personal experience wasn’t like that

However, I can speak from my own personal experience. With all of my babies, my period returned within two months of the births. I exclusively breastfed all of them, successfully. I didn’t pump. No bottles. And even with breastfeeding 10+ times a day, my period returned quickly.

I am certain I was producing the hormone (prolactin) because I was producing plenty of milk for my babies. And I have no other real explanation for it.

I was really disappointed, especially when my other mom friends told me that they didn’t have a period for a year or more, as long as they breastfed at least a little. In my case, I was barely healed from the birth when my cycle restarted.

Further, when my period returned, it PUNISHED me. The periods were longer than I was used to, and the bleeding was much, much heavier than my previous courses. I also experienced very painful cramping, much worse than before, more similar to mild contractions than period cramps.

It was pretty darn miserable for a long time, so much so that I just decided to try and pregnant again to avoid them.

(Okay, that wasn’t the only reason. But still, I wasn’t sorry to see them go away again).

Bodies are weird

Breastfeeding mothers may have a period, but they may not have actually ovulated. I guess it is possible that when my period returned, I wasn’t ovulating. But I honestly think that I was, given how quickly I got pregnant with my second and third children.

I’m not doctor, but I think it is worthwhile to ask your own mother and grandmothers about how quickly they got their periods. Take a look at how closely spaced your aunts and uncles are. My grandmother had nine children, many of whom were less than one year apart in age. I have to guess that whatever quirk in her that allowed her to get pregnant again so quickly was also passed to me.

By checking with your family, if this baby if your first baby, you might have a pretty decent idea of when you can expect your fertility to return. (And when you should start being really careful about unprotected relations).

Is it normal to miss a period while breastfeeding?

Every woman is different. Some women return to full, regular periods, and others have a period one month, and then might not have one again for another month (or several months). The period might be heavier or lighter than you are used to. It can also be shorter or much, much longer.

The return of the period is also the herald of the return of whatever level of fertility you have (meaning ovulation). A sporadic period could mean that in any given month, you might ovulate. Or you might not. If getting pregnant again isn’t on the agenda, consider some kind of birth avoidance method.

Sporadic, irregular periods can be caused by changes in the amount/duration of breastfeeding sessions. For example, if your child is nursing less, but then all of a sudden, takes back to the breast ferociously, your body can interpret that as a signal to hold off on menstruation.

It is normal to miss periods while pregnant. But honestly, I can’t say with any certainty that a missed period is just regular old amenorrhea (missing periods). If you have returned to relations with your partner, and you’ve had your period at least once since the birth of your child, there is the possibility of pregnancy.

Yes, it is normal to miss periods during breastfeeding, but it is always a good idea to go ahead and take a pregnancy test just to be sure. If you aren’t planning on being pregnant and you aren’t taking prenatal vitamins, you definitely want to know if you are pregnant again. Breastfeeding takes enough out of your body. It isn’t a good idea to be pregnant AND nursing without keeping a close eye on your own body/nutrition/self-care.

Do you still have questions about your period and pregnancy? We love to answer questions and respond to comments. Let us know what you think.

For more info about breastfeeding, check out our Breastfeeding FAQs post: 100 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms.

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