Lactational amenorrhea, it is a term used for nursing mothers or breastfeeding mothers who do not experience menstruation for the first 6 months post-delivery. As you breastfeed your baby, your body naturally inhibits the release of hormones that are responsible for preparing your body for another pregnancy.
Since those hormones are inhibited, this means no ovulation and ultimately you won’t experience any period. There is a good chance that you notice spotting while still nursing and the main reason is probably the return of your periods.
Every body is different, every pregnancy is different and hence all postpartum reactions are different. The absence of periods or menstrual cycle could last from anywhere from a few months to several years for different people and there are multiple factors that could affect the occurrence of your first period after having your baby. These could be:
- How often you breastfeed your baby
- If your baby has started solids in his/her diet
- Sleep duration of your baby at night
- Use of pacifier for the baby
- Is your baby given supplements
- Sensitivity of your body and its hormonal reaction to breastfeeding
The question here is if you’ve noticed any spotting while you’re still a breastfeeding mom. Its okay and its normal to observe spotting while breastfeeding as you can have irregular menstrual cycles. Let’s talk about it in detail.
When should you get your Periods again after Giving Birth?
The occurrence of your period can happen anywhere between 5-6 weeks postpartum and till you breastfeed or nurse your child. When you start feeding your baby solid foods or the formula milk, you can start your periods soon, however, the first period is going to be heavy, you may experience more cramping and can even notice the presence of blood clots in your period blood. Spotting can occur before your periods start as a signal.
If you notice that the blood clots are a bit too much, you can consult a doctor. Your periods can return sooner when:
- The baby is fed solid foods
- The baby is given supplements
- The baby sleeps throughout the night without feeding
- You start pumping instead of breastfeeding
- Your baby has started pacifier instead of breastfeeding
- You breastfeed your baby on a schedule
How is Period during Breastfeeding Different?
While normally your periods are regular and regularly lasts for about 6-7 days, periods during breastfeeding can occur inconsistently and could last longer than usual or shorter than usual. While your periods are irregular, you can also experience mood swings and irritability before your periods begin and while you’re ovulating, you may also notice nipple tenderness. Keep in mind that occurrence of periods depends on how frequently you breastfeed your baby.
Periods and its Effect on Milk Supply:
If you notice that your periods have returned, that does not mean that you should stop feeding your baby. You might observe that your baby has been irritated or fussy while you’re on your period but that’s just because the milk supply may have decreased a little due to hormonal imbalances and definitely not because your milk has gotten sour or bad.
One possible reason could be the increased salt content in your milk which some babies may not find very nice, the saltier taste is due to the elevation in sodium levels in the milk also due to hormonal fluctuations.
Your baby might need to feed more often or for longer durations due to the decrease in the milk supply, however, the supply would go back to normal as soon as you’re over with your periods.
Some ways to increase the milk supply are as follows:
- Consumption of lactogenic foods
- Breast compressions
- Skin to skin contacts
- Comfort breastfeeding your baby
- Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Can you Breast Feed even during Periods?
The milk supply can decrease but yes! You can still breastfeed your little one even during periods. The problem is that it might be painful as you may have sore nipples and it may be very uncomfortable for the first few days of your period. You can reduce them in the following ways:
- Breastfeed your baby or comfort feed your baby so the milk production does not decrease during the time.
- Avoid the use of numbing creams on your nipples as it would come in contact with the baby’s mouth and make it numb, it would ultimately make it difficult for the baby to suckle.
- Consult your doctor for pain relief if the pain becomes too much as do not take medications on your own as it could be harmful for the baby.
- You can go for an alternative by pumping the milk instead of breastfeeding if the pain becomes too much to bear.
Some other possibilities of spotting while breastfeeding
There are some other possibilities as to why you could observe spotting during breastfeeding although it may not really have a link to the fact that you’re still a nursing mother. You might be one of those people who do not have very prominent signs and symptoms of ovulation, and if you’re sexually active while ovulating, there is a good chance of getting pregnant again, in such cases the spotting that you observe could be due to the implantation of the embryo.
The process is also referred as implantation spotting and can be confirmed if you test positive for pregnancy in the next few days or weeks.
Another possible reason could be a possible presence of UTI which is common among females, however in a condition of UTI, spotting is observed with other signs and symptoms so do look out for it if anything seems unusual.
Has your period returned even though you’re breastfeeding? Do you use birth control? We’re specifically talking about IUD, there is a possibility that the IUD device might be placed in a way where might have caused slight injury which has led to spotting. If you have an IUD device and observed spotting, you should have your doctor check its placement.
Could you get Pregnant Whilst Breastfeeding?
Definitely! There’s always room for such possibilities and you can get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding and hence you should take precautionary measures to avoid a pregnancy this early. Your body has just been through a trauma and needs to recover, if you want a bigger family, that’s good but you should take care of yourself and your body as well. If you observe PMS (premenstrual syndrome), consider it as an early sign of the return of your periods.
In case your period has returned although you’re still breastfeeding, know that your fertility has returned.
Precautionary and Birth Control Methods:
As mentioned previously, the return of your period also means the return of your fertility. In this case you need to take precautionary measures and avoid an early pregnancy right after giving birth. Remember that your body needs rest and it needs to be properly nourished.
You can use birth control methods, however, the lactational amenorrhea can itself be considered as a birth control method however, only in the following conditions:
- Your period didn’t return
- You feed your baby on demand
- No use of pacifiers and supplements
- Your baby is not older than 6 months of age
- You breastfeed your baby exclusively
- Your baby is breastfed even in the night hours
Birth Control Options:
If your period returns, that automatically means that now you’re fertile and the lactational amenorrhea period is over. You now need to look into your birth control options as your precautionary measure. You should go for birth control methods that wouldn’t play a havoc with your hormones and disrupt them. Go for safer options such as condoms, IUD (intrauterine devices), diaphragms or spermicides.
Choosing physical methods would be more safe as you’re a breastfeeding mother. Although with a higher failure rate, but the natural way or tracking your menstrual cycle can also be a way of birth control. Track your ovulation days, or keep a notice of the ovulatory symptoms that occur such as changes in body temperature and changes in the cervical mucus.
If you really want to shift to pills or hormonal methods of contraception, in that case only go for the progestin-only medication. This is to prevent the changes in the milk supply as hormonal contraception can bring about changes in the milk production. However, the physical methods are suggested to be on a safe side, talk to your doctor and they would give you better suggestions over the matter.
Spotting during breastfeeding is actually an indication of return of your period and you should start taking precautionary measures in order to avoid an early pregnancy. Your body needs recovery as it has been through a trauma and recovery needs time and proper nourishment.
It is better to take birth control measures which would not prove harmful for you or affect your baby’s feed. Try to use physical birth control methods and take care of your body. Have a healthy diet, rest a lot and in case of confusions, consult your doctor.