Periods and Milk Supply: A New Mum’s Guide to Finding Balance

Posted in Breastfeeding Advice.

Mother breastfeeding toddler

So, you’re navigating the wild world of breastfeeding, and suddenly Aunt Flo comes knocking at your door. You might be wondering, “Can I even get my period while breastfeeding?” Well, the answer is yes, you absolutely can.

And here’s the real kicker – your monthly visitor can sometimes throw a curveball at your milk supply.

The Period and Breastfeeding Connection

You might be thinking, “I thought breastfeeding was supposed to delay my period” and you’re right, it often does. Exclusive breastfeeding, especially during those first six months, can put the brakes on your menstrual cycle. However, as your baby grows and you introduce solid foods or start spacing out feedings, your body might decide it’s time to get back into the regular monthly rhythm.

The Hormone Tango

To understand why your period might impact your milk supply, let’s get a little nerdy with the science. When you menstruate, hormone levels fluctuate. One of the hormones that plays a significant role here is progesterone, which typically keeps milk production in check. But when your period returns, it can bring a surge of estrogen with it. Estrogen can antagonise the milk-making process, potentially leading to a temporary dip in supply.

The Supply and Demand Dance

It’s all about supply and demand. Your body is a smart cookie. When your baby feeds less because you’re producing less milk (thanks to that hormonal tango), it can create a bit of a domino effect. Less demand equals less supply. But don’t despair; this dip is usually temporary and can be managed.

Tips to Manage the Period-Milk Supply Conundrum

  • Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished: Drink plenty of water and eat help and nutritious meals. Staying hydrated and well-fed can help maintain your milk supply during your period.
  • Nurse More Frequently: Encourage your baby to nurse more frequently during your period. The increased demand can signal your body to produce more milk.
  • Pump or Hand Express: If your baby isn’t emptying your breasts completely during feeds, consider pumping or hand expressing after nursing sessions to stimulate more milk production.
  • Herbal Support: Some moms swear by herbal remedies like fenugreek or blessed thistle to boost their milk supply. Consult with a healthcare professional before trying any supplements.
  • Track Your Cycle: Keep tabs on your menstrual cycle and your baby’s feeding patterns. This can help you anticipate potential supply dips and take proactive measures.

It’s a Temporary Hiccup

In the grand scheme of breastfeeding, a dip in milk supply due to your period is a temporary hiccup. Your body is a marvel at adapting to your baby’s needs. So, while Aunt Flo might try to shake things up, remember that with a little extra care and attention to your breastfeeding routine, you can keep those milk flows going strong.

And hey, you’re doing an incredible job – period!

Keep in mind that every mum’s experience is unique, and if you have concerns about your milk supply or your menstrual cycle, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline, lactation consultant or healthcare provider for help.

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