Periods while breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding your baby, your periods may not return for several months after childbirth. This is because the hormone that causes you to make milk, prolactin, also stops you from ovulating and having your period. If you are breastfeeding day and night, it can be up to a year before your period returns.
Many factors determine when your period will return when you are breastfeeding. These include:
- how often you bottle feed your baby
- the way your body responds to hormone changes
- how often and how long your baby is breastfeeding
If your baby is being fed only using bottles, you may find your periods return shortly after birth.
Your first period after birth
If you breastfeed exclusively, your first period may not return for several months or 1 to 2 years if you keep breastfeeding. If you bottle feed or partially breastfeed your baby, your periods may return as soon as 3 weeks after having your baby.
Once they do return, your periods may be irregular, especially if you are still producing milk (lactating). The duration of your period can also change. It is not unusual to skip a period, or even for it to be a few months before your next one.
When you start reducing the amount of time you spend breastfeeding, your periods should start to return to their usual routine. You may notice some spotting (light bleeding) at first.
If you have irregular periods while breastfeeding, such as continued spotting, heavier than normal bleeding or long cycles, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor because there may be other causes apart from breastfeeding. Your doctor will need to conduct a thorough examination and may need to order some tests to exclude other causes.
If your period has come back, it means that you are fertile again and you could become pregnant, even while you are breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor or nurse about contraceptive methods while breastfeeding.
Does having a period affect breast milk supply?
The return of your period should have little effect on your breast milk so you can continue to breastfeed if desired. Some women find a temporary drop in the amount of milk they produce just before their period starts or for a few days into it, but it will increase again when hormones return to their normal levels.
Your midwife or doctor will be able to give you further advice and information about your periods and breastfeeding.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your breastfeeding and periods, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
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Last reviewed: May 2021