Can you get your period while breastfeeding? Let’s discuss this and many other common questions.

A common question we hear from expecting and new mothers is how breastfeeding affects menstruation and fertility. While there’s no precise answer to when your period will return after having a baby, breastfeeding does have an impact. Missing a period is one of the first signs of pregnancy; The pregnancy hormones in your body keep your period away, which may last longer should you choose to breastfeed. But can you still get pregnant? Keep reading!

What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding and Your Period

While the effects of breastfeeding on fertility vary a lot individually, generally the more often a baby is breastfed, the later your periods will resume. The time frame of what is considered “normal” is long and varies from person to person. Some womens’ menstrual cycles resume soon after giving birth, and others don’t resume their periods until the baby is weaned. Why the difference? Individual hormonal and physiological differences can be a factor as well as how frequently you nurse your baby. Furthermore, some women have a non-ovulatory period before six months postpartum, but don’t menstruate again for many months.

Bleeding After Childbirth: Is it My Period?

The bleeding you experience right after childbirth may seem like a period, but that’s not what it is. This is a mixture of blood, mucus and tissue from the lining of your uterus called lochia. Lochia starts as bright red bleeding, can be very heavy, and may contain blood clots. After a few days, the bleeding will slow down and turn pink or lighter in color. Lochia and spotting can last for up to six weeks.  

So, the soonest you may get your first real period after giving birth is about six weeks. If you choose not to breastfeed, you can typically expect menstruation to return within three months. But again, everyone is different, so the time frame varies. Breastfeeding could hold your period off longer, but it is not a certainty. You may be more likely to get your period sooner if the following occur:

  • Choose not to breastfeed
  • Breastfeeding occasionally, not exclusively
  • Use a bottle for some feedings
  • Start giving your children solid foods
  • Begin weaning your child

Can I get Pregnant While Breastfeeding and Before I Have My First Period?

Yes! Because ovulation occurs prior to your menstrual cycle, it is possible to become pregnant before having your first menstrual cycle after having your baby. Talk to your OBGyn provider about safe contraception options while you are breastfeeding.

What if My Period Returns While I’m Still Breastfeeding? 

This is a possibility and not at all unusual. Breastfeeding while on your period is perfectly safe for you and your baby. Your breast milk is still healthy and nutritious. But hormone changes leading up to your period can affect your milk and feeding pattern for a few days. Your baby may notice a change in the taste of the milk because the levels of sodium and chloride in the milk go up while potassium and lactose go down. This makes the breast milk more salty and less sweet during this time. 

We’re here to help you through this journey, and we’d love to visit about any questions you have. Contact us to make your next appointment.

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