Does Breast Milk Taste Change During Your Period?

Posted in Breastfeeding Advice.

Mother laying on the bed breastfeeding her baby

The return of your period after having a baby means big changes are happening in your body, and they may even be impacting the taste of your breast milk.

Some mums in our Facebook Baby Groups found their little breastfeeders were getting fussy during their period, so we asked lactation consultant Lynne McKensey Hall to explain why, and what to do about it.

I think all of us would expect while we breastfeed we don’t need to worry about getting a period because the textbooks tell us while breastfeeding on demand you won’t get your period. I have certainly known mothers who do get their period even though they are feeding frequently throughout the day and night.

As your baby stretches the length of time between any feed, the chances of you getting your period increases. As a result, some mums do get their period sooner than expected (or wanted). I certainly don’t suggest you wake the baby for extra feeds – especially overnight! Your milk supply will adjust.

Once your breast milk supply establishes around the third to fourth week after birth, your supply equals demand regardless of the number or length of any feed.

During your period, the taste of your breast milk may change

What I think happens is that around the time you ovulate or get your period, the hormones can change the taste of the milk. Many mums I have seen say the baby fusses and won’t feed effectively and sometimes not at all at these times. So what can you do?

  • You certainly don’t need to wake your baby to feed or express at the times your baby isn’t feeding at anymore.
  • You will need to express any feed your baby would otherwise be breastfeeding effectively at.
  • If your baby is feeding but it’s a ‘fussy’ or ‘ineffectual’ feed – you will need to express!
  • Trust your instinct, if the feed doesn’t feel right, express to maintain the stimulation your baby would have otherwise given the breast.
  • Interestingly, the baby might take what you have expressed very happily via a bottle or cup but refuse the breast – not sure why.
  • If you are becoming aware of this at specific feeds only and concerned that your baby is not getting enough, you can express some milk from the beginning and end of any ‘good’ day feeds to give as extra for the ‘fussy feeds’.
  • If your baby totally refuses to breastfeed at any feed you will have to express each and every feed your baby would otherwise be having at the breast.
  • Hopefully, you have some frozen milk in the freezer for ‘just in case’ situations like this.
  • Ask for or accept breast milk from someone you know or trust.
  • Feel confident about getting some safe donor milk from the Mothers Milk Bank Charity.

Generally, this fussy feeding only lasts a day or two. Most mums I have helped say babies settle down and feed without a glitch at the next period. I hope this is only a temporary setback and you continue to breastfeed as it suits you and your baby.

Read next …

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Lynne-McKensey Hall is an internationally certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) working as Lactation Consultant and Endorsed Midwife in Sydney. She specialises in antenatal breastfeeding and birth classes and ongoing breastfeeding support. She consults via Better Beginnings in-home, in her clinic and via Skype or FaceTime anywhere in Australia or overseas.

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