Does Breastfeeding Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?

Breastfeeding is one of the best ideas to make sure that your newborn will grow healthfully. While it is great for the baby, it also can provide some health advantages for the mother. For instance, it can help lose the baby weight (the weight you gain during pregnancy). But does it also affect your menstrual cycle? If so, when your regular periods return?

How does your body prepare itself for breastfeeding?

Like in pregnancy, changes in hormones play a key role in the way of your body in producing milk for your baby. Even the process of preparation for nursing has started several months before giving birth.

The alveoli or sac-like glands of the female breast organ play a key role in the production of milk for breastfeeding. Milk is produced in these glands.

The specific hormones (such as estrogen, progesterone, placental lactogen, and pituitary prolactin) stimulate the growth of alveoli. And this stimulation has begun in the second trimester (about 6 months of pregnancy) [1].

Unlike in cow, the milk for your baby is not stored in a large volume in your body. In other words, most the milk is produced by the sac-like glands during nursing.

Can breastfeeding affect your menstrual cycles?

Yes, it can – but the effect is temporary. New mothers who choose to exclusively breastfeed their newborn are more likely to get the return of their periods longer than others who don’t breastfeed their babies.

When you breastfeed your baby after delivery, this can send a signal to your brain that your body is not ready for ovulation. As a result, the brain then stimulates the release of some hormones that can interrupt your ovulation cycle [2].

In general, the effect of breastfeeding to your menstruation is very strong about the first six months after giving birth. Then the effect will gradually decline in line with the growth of your baby.

As your baby grows, eventually she /he can start to eat other foods, and the time suckling for nursing also decreases. And slowly but sure, your period will return on its own when your body is ready for ovulation.

When does your period return after having a baby?

The answer varies from woman to woman. If you don’t to choose exclusively breastfeed your baby, your period may return faster than if you take breastfeeding, as noted before.

Even some experts say that there is no exact formula to estimate the return of your period after childbirth. In other words, it can be unpredictable – particularly for the days of your first ovulation after giving birth [3].

The period can resume during breastfeeding or after the phase of breastfeeding. Again, it is unpredictable. But in general, it is more likely to return after 6 months of childbirth.

Breastfeeding and your chance of getting pregnant

image_illustration92The absence of menstrual period due to breastfeeding is medically called as lactation amenorrhea.

Since the time of when you will get back your normal period after giving birth is unpredictable, you should not use lactation amenorrhea for your birth control!

Most women don’t get their period while they are nursing, however there are some that can get a conception of pregnancy while they breastfeed. Therefore, it is still recommended to take birth control pills while breastfeeding.

There are some methods of birth control that can be safe enough to be used during nursing. These include [4]: