Menstruation And Breastfeeding - Everything You Need To Know

Menstruation And Breastfeeding

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Are you a new mom who is breastfeeding, and are you bleeding or experiencing discharge that refuses to stop? Or has it been some time that you had your baby but your monthly periods have not started yet, and you are worried if anything is wrong?

If these are questions that have been bothering you, we are here to ease your worries. Once you have been through pregnancy and had your baby, your body still takes a lot of time to adjust and get back to the way it was before, including the way your system works. Scroll down and get the complete information about menstruation and breastfeeding here.

When Will Your Menstrual Cycle Resume After You Have Had Your Baby?

One of the first thought that comes to your mind as you are pregnant is that there will be no more uncomfortable menses at least the duration of the pregnancy. It is one major relief that makes almost all would be mommies smile in agreement – not looking forward to those monthly periods for the next nine months can be quite a relaxing thought.

But once you have had your baby, it is obvious that you’ll be wondering when your monthly cycle will resume. There are many reasons that could make you think about it. You may wonder how you will manage your newborn baby and the discomfort of your monthly periods in the initial few months after giving birth. You may wonder how you will manage the pain and cramps that are associated with the monthly periods when you are already in pain due to the delivery. You may also wonder when is it safe to have unprotected sex if you have not begun your monthly periods and when you should start resuming protected sex again.

Whatever your query, one thing is for certain, that your monthly periods are just waiting to come back any moment now.

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you will not get your monthly periods for at least a few months after your baby is born. Also, if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, your monthly periods will be still more delayed and may not return for as long as almost seven to eight months after you have given birth.

[ Read: Best Positions To Ensure That Baby Latches Correctly ]

There is no particular time frame that can be considered as normal when it refers to when your monthly periods will return while you are breastfeeding. Some mothers may be breastfeeding and menstruation starts within the first two or three months of having the baby. On the other hand, some mothers may be breastfeeding and enjoy a long break from their monthly periods, for as long as even eight to ten months. All the scenarios are absolutely normal.

Here are a few things you should remember about period while breastfeeding and the relation it may have:

  • If you are breastfeeding your baby exclusively, your monthly periods may not come back till your baby decides to start putting a gap between the feeds. For instance, your baby may start to sleep for a longer stretch at night, or your baby may be feeding well and may want to take more time between feeds. Once this happens, it may be a signal that your body will soon experience those monthly visitors in the form of your periods.
  • Once you introduce solids to your baby, your little one will naturally divide the feeding time between breastfeeding and eating solids. It means that your baby’s feeding will space out, and is another signal that now your body will again get back to those monthly periods.
  • While you are breastfeeding your baby, you may also experience occasional spotting or a few days of bleeding, after which you will not see any bleeding. It is absolutely normal and does not mean that your monthly periods are back, or that they came back but stopped suddenly.
  • If you are not breastfeeding your baby exclusively and have introduced some baby formula to your little one, you may start getting your monthly period as early as 12 weeks after your baby is born.

[ Read: Best Foods To Increase Breast Milk ]

The First Period After Birth While Breastfeeding:

Even though the time when your monthly periods will return after the birth of your baby will vary for every woman, the consistency and the appearance of the discharge will be similar. Here is a look at some changes you may notice during the first menstrual cycle after pregnancy while breastfeeding:

  • As soon as you have had your baby, you will experience some form of bleeding. For most women, this is just postpartum bleeding and will eventually fade. For some, believe it or not, this may actually be the start of your monthly periods, and it will be as early as after the baby is born, and you are still in the birthing center.
  • The first blood loss that you will have after your baby is born will be a dark red and may be heavier than your normal monthly flow. However, you should notice the amount of time that you need to take between changing your sanitary pads. The common rule is that you should use a sanitary pad for at least four hours at a stretch. If you continue to bleed more heavily and need to change your sanitary pads more often, make sure you speak to your doctor or your midwife to check that everything is okay.
  • You may bleed during this time for about a week, and the flow will usually be heavy than it was before you had your baby. As you reach the end of the week, you will notice that the flow will get lighter. Also, you will notice a significant change in the color of the blood. While earlier it was a rather dark shade, it will now slowly turn paler, and will gradually even turn into a light brownish color.
  • After the first few weeks, you will notice that the color of the discharge will change into a pale yellow or white color. The discharge will not be bloody anymore and is known medically as lochia. Soon you will notice that the discharge will completely stop, and your first menstruation after giving birth and while you are breastfeeding will stop for now. In most cases, the discharge will accompany a strong odor.
  • Most women will experience the first menstrual cycle while they are breastfeeding for a week or so, but if you feel your period is going on for longer, do not be alarmed. It is natural that your menstrual cycles will extend beyond the one week mark and go on for almost six weeks. If you are worried or feel that it is causing you a lot of pain and discomfort, make sure to have a word with your doctor or midwife to know that everything is as it should be.

[ Read: First Period After Breastfeeding ]

Tampons Or Sanitary Pads For Your Menstrual Period During Breastfeeding:

While you are breastfeeding and have your menstrual period, you may want to opt for a way that is easier to manage and will not take up too much time and effort. While you may naturally think of using a tampon during these times, it is important to remember that instead of using tampons, you should instead go for the sanitary pads.

  • When you use tampons, it will obstruct the flow of blood, and it may also lead to a growth of bacteria.
  • As you have only recently recovered from a major surgery or the birth wounds, your body will already be prone to various infections and your overall immunity after giving birth also remains quite low.
  • The bacteria that may start thriving can give rise to various infections and complications.
  • Instead of a tampon, it is advisable to use a sanitary pad. Make sure you change your pad every four hours or so and earlier if the flow is heavy. During the early months of your menstrual period while you are still breastfeeding, there is a major chance of bacteria thriving and building up quickly. It is also common when you have the different types of vaginal discharge, known as lochia, so you need to be especially careful of the same.
  • If you feel that using a sanitary pad is not offering you as much comfort as you need, you may want to switch to a thicker maternity pad instead. The maternity pads are thicker and are more padded in comparison to the regular sanitary pads, and will keep you feeling dry for longer.
  • Your doctor or midwife will be able to suggest the right one for you. Alternatively, many hospitals also give new moms advice on what sanitary pads they can use during the first few times of their menstrual cycle while they are still breastfeeding.

[ Read: First Period After Cesarean ]

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

It is natural for you to get worried or panic when you notice that first menstrual cycle even while you are breastfeeding. Also, it is natural for you to panic if you notice any changes in the color of the blood, if you notice the blood too red or pink or brown, or if you feel the flow is too heavy. While most of these are natural changes your body and system will be going through, it is important to know when you should speak to your doctor and get an examination done. Here are a few symptoms you need to watch out for, and once you spot them, make sure you speak to your doctor or midwife about it:

  • The discharge is bright red and continues for more than a week.
  • Sometimes, you may notice big blood clots in your discharge. It is absolutely natural and normal to notice blood clots in your discharge for the initial few days, but if the clots are too large or if you notice them multiple times, make sure to speak to a medical practitioner about it.
  • If your discharge has moved on from bright red to a different and lighter shade, but if suddenly you again notice a bright red color in the blood.
  • It is natural for the discharge to have a strong odor, but if it is too smelly or smells foul or stinks, you should speak to a medical practitioner immediately.
  • In case you experience any pain or tenderness in your uterus or the surrounding areas, make sure to mention it to your doctor as well.

[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]

Ovulation, Breastfeeding And Menstrual Cycle:

In the first six weeks after you give birth, it is highly unlikely that you will begin to ovulate, and, as a result, your chances of getting pregnant are also low. You will be scheduled for a regular checkup after about six to seven weeks of giving birth. Your doctor or midwife will probably tell you about safe sex practices and whether or not you can resume your sexual life. Whether or not your doctor or midwife tells you all the details, here are a few things you should keep in mind that are related to your ovulation, your breastfeeding and period:

  1. While you are breastfeeding your baby, the sucking will stimulate various signals in your body. The sucking will also help to release the hormone prolactin in your body. As long as you will exclusively breastfeed your baby, your body will keep producing enough levels of the hormone prolactin that will help to keep your body from ovulating.
  1. It is difficult to estimate exactly when or how soon or late after giving birth you will start to ovulate again.As long as you continue to exclusively breastfeed your baby, your body will hold off from ovulating, and once your baby starts spacing out the feeds, it is time that your body will slowly start to move towards ovulation again. In some cases, you may not start to ovulate after you have given up breastfeeding altogether.
  1. Once your menstrual cycle does return, it does not mean that you have to give up your practice of breastfeeding. Your breast milk will not turn sour once your menstrual cycle is back, and it will not suddenly change in its taste or feel.
  1. You may be worried that once you start your menstrual cycle, your breastmilk may not remain as healthy and nutritious as it was before, but it is not true. Your breastmilk will remain as healthy and as nutritious as it was before you began your menstrual cycle. It is also important for you to continue breastfeeding your baby for as long as you can so that you can help your little one get all the goodness that you have to offer.
  1. One thing that you may notice when you get your menstrual cycle while breastfeeding is a reduction of milk your body is producing. You may notice that your baby seems a little hungry or that your breasts get empty a little faster than they earlier did. The drop of milk your body will produce will usually happen a few days just before you are about to begin your menstrual cycle and maybe for the first few days that your menstrual cycle begins. There is nothing to worry if this happens, and it does not mean that now that you are beginning to get back your menstrual cycle, your breastmilk will stop being produced. The change is just a temporary one and will mostly happen only in the first few days of your menstrual cycle each month. The reason this happens is due to the many changes in hormones that your body will go through while your menstrual cycle is about to start and is on.
  1. As soon as your menstrual cycle starts getting back to normal, your hormones will start to stabilize too. It will also bring about a change in your breastmilk, and you will notice that the amount of breastmilk you will produce will go up again. To make up for your baby for the reduction in the supply of milk in these few days of your menstrual cycle, you can try nursing your baby a bit more frequently and reduce the gap between two feeds.
  1. Just before you are about to start your menstrual cycle, your baby may detect a very slight change in the taste of your breastmilk. Your baby may show you this discovery by trying to move the head away from the breast or by making some other sign that will show you that your baby is confused about something. Do not worry that the taste of your breastmilk has suddenly gone bad. You also do not have to worry that this is something that will turn your baby off your breastmilk. Your baby is probably very sensitive to taste or smell and has felt the change, but that is all it will be about. Very soon your baby will get on to the new taste and will start breastfeeding the way your baby was doing earlier. The change in the taste of your milk will most likely happen just before you are due to begin your menstrual cycle, as a result of your hormonal changes.

[ Read: Common Breastfeeding Problems ]

Ecological Breastfeeding And Its Relation To Your Menstrual Cycle:

  1. While every woman’s body is different and will react differently to change after giving birth, there are a few things that can presumably give an even overall effect. One of the biggest effects of breastfeeding will be seen in your menstrual cycle if you follow the tenets of ecological breastfeeding. If you are not sure of what ecological breastfeeding or want to know more about it, here is what it refers to:
  1. You will exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months after being born. Exclusive means that you will not give your baby any liquid during this time, other than your breast milk, including water, or any other solid or water mix.
  1. You will help to comfort your baby at the breast and practice breastfeeding in such a way that your baby will start turning to your breast during times of comfort.
  1. You will not use any bottles or pacifiers for your baby as long as you are breastfeeding.
  1. For the weeks or months that you will be breastfeeding your baby through the night, you will sleep with your baby at night in the same room or even in the same bed.
  1. For the weeks and months that you will be breastfeeding your baby during the day, you will sleep with your baby during the nap time or feed time in the same room or even in the same bed.
  1. You will breastfeed your baby through the day and the night as and when your baby needs you to feed, and will not try to form any schedule for breastfeeding.

[ Read: Why Babies Refuse To Breastfeed ]

  1. You will stay away from doing or following anything that can cause a disruption in you breastfeeding your baby or anything that makes you stay away from your baby.
  1. Most mothers who do follow the ecological method of breastfeeding often experience their menstrual cycle only when they have crossed almost 14 to 16 months after the birth of their baby. Even those mothers who do not breastfeed exclusively or who do not follow the ecological mode of breastfeeding will experience a delay in the return of their menstrual cycle, but it will not be as late as the one that happens with ecological breastfeeding.

Remember that your body is different from the body of the other new mom, and it is possible that the time frames you go through may not be the same as those that others experience. Keep an eye on what makes you uncomfortable or if something is causing you pain. If you notice anything amiss or if something is bothering you, make sure to speak to your doctor.

Moms, when did you get your menstrual cycle? Did you get it while you were still breastfeeding or did you get it much later? Tell us your story here. Leave a comment.

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