Most of the experiences during and after pregnancy can be very confusing to you, a first time mother. There are countless of firsts and a great deal of things you don’t understand.
For instance, breastfeeding is just one aspect of motherhood but there are so many subjects of discussion surrounding it. Is it okay to breastfeed a toddler? What are the medications that should be avoided while breastfeeding? Is breast pumping inferior to direct latching?
These are just few of the questions that every mother has. So far, we’ve tried to answer them and now, it’s time to tackle another one: can you have period while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding and menstruation
Although it may baffle a lot of new and upcoming moms, the question actually makes a lot of sense. Breastfeeding and menstruation is very much connected because of the hormones produced and needed for each one to occur.
For ovulation to occur, estrogen levels need to be elevated. It plays a role in making the uterine lining thicker, which makes the uterus more conducive to house a growing fetus. With low levels of estrogen, a woman can’t ovulate.
This is exactly what happens during breastfeeding. Your body grows sensitive to the nutritional needs of your baby, sending all sorts of signals to the hypothalamus to prompt the production of milk. A part of the process is the production of prolactin. As you may have already guessed, it refers to the milk of the mother.
The increase in prolactin levels means a decrease in estrogen. With low levels of estrogen, a woman can’t ovulate.
What bleeding could mean
We’ve talked about how breastfeeding delays ovulation. What if you still experience bleeding, what could it mean?
If you notice blood spots in your underwear, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re having a period. There’s a high chance that you are experiencing vaginal bleeding.
What is vaginal bleeding?
It is among the postpartum symptoms that many mothers may experience. It occurs up to 10 days after giving birth. It usually starts with a heavy gush of blood and other materials such as mucus and uterine tissue. You will notice it’s nearing its end if the color grows fainter.
After 10 days, you may still experience some spotting but it will only be light pink in color and won’t be as heavy. It usually lasts up to 6 weeks after giving birth, although it ultimately is case to case basis.
When will I get my first period after delivery?
Because of the process involving lactation and ovulation we discussed earlier, breastfeeding mothers tend to have their first period much later than those who don’t breastfeed. It’s possible that you get your first period 6 months after but you may not get it the entire time you’re breastfeeding. Whereas your non-breastfeeding counterpart may experience their first period as early as 6 weeks after delivery.
If I do get my period while breastfeeding, is that normal?
Yes, it is. However, your cycle might not go back to normal as long as you’re breastfeeding. You also have to look out for postpartum hemorrhage which is characterized by bleeding much heavier than normal. 1 to 5% of women are affected by this condition.
To determine if you are experiencing postpartum hemorrhage, examine the amount of blood you lose. On the average, you only lose 30 to 44 ml of blood during a period. If it goes much more than that, it’s best to consult a doctor. Other symptoms include increased heart rate and low blood pressure.
How will menstruation affect my breastfeeding?
Once you get your first postpartum period, you may notice a decrease in your milk production. This is due to hormones at work. Your baby may also feed differently from before. You don’t have to worry because these changes tend to be minimal and won’t have dire effects.
How is my first postpartum different from my previous periods?
Don’t panic right away when you experience heavy bleeding than before. This is normal. The flow will go back to normal over time. Other differences include the amount of pain experienced and the flow (it could stop and then come back again). You may also experience irregular cycles despite having normal ones your entire life.