Have you ever noticed your breastfed baby being a bit fussier while feeding or your supply dropping a bit at certain times of the month?
Have you ever thought how this might be related to your menstrual cycle?
If you’ve experienced or thought any of these things, you're not alone.
There are many breastfeeding mothers who experience and notice exactly the same things.
This article will help explain the things you’ve noticed, and help you to understand some interesting facts related to breastfeeding and your menstrual cycle.
Read on to find out all about breastfeeding and your menstrual cycle.
#1: Your Baby May Be Fussier With Feeds At Certain Points In Your Menstrual Cycle
Research has shown changes in breastmilk composition occur around the time of ovulation (5-6 days before and 6-7 days after).
At these times, there’s an increase in sodium and chloride, and a decrease in lactose and potassium in breastmilk. These changes are similar to changes that occur with a bout of mastitis or during weaning (i.e. when it’s common to experience a drop in supply).
Such composition changes make your breastmilk taste saltier. This may be what makes some babies fussier with feeds around such times. Your baby might even refuse some feeds, although some babies will want to feed more often. The good news is that these things usually get back to normal in a few days.
#2: Your May Notice Your Supply Drops At Certain Points In Your Menstrual Cycle
Some breastfeeding mothers report a drop in supply after a bout of mastitis or at different points in their menstrual cycle (e.g. a few days before mid-cycle or leading up to a period). This may be due to temporary biochemical changes that occur within the milk-producing cells of the breast and/or hormonal changes that occur during these times.
The good news is that for most mothers who experience this supply drop, it’s usually not substantial (i.e. not enough to necessitate supplementation). A few days of more frequent feeding is often all that, at most, may be required to boost your supply back up to normal. If you are concerned, speak to a breastfeeding counsellor or see a lactation consultant.
#3: Breast Growth Occurs With Menstrual Cycles
From puberty until around 35 years of age, your breasts grow a little more glandular (milk-making) tissue with every menstrual cycle. With pregnancy, this glandular tissue growth occurs to a much bigger degree. How amazing is that!
#4: Your Nipples May Be Sorer At Certain Points In Your Menstrual Cycle
It’s not uncommon for some breastfeeding mothers to experience increased nipple tenderness during the week before their menstrual cycle. Optimising positioning and attachment and using other nipple soothing tips can help.
#5: When Your Menstrual Cycle Returns Varies Between Mothers
It’s very variable for different breastfeeding mothers when their period returns. For some mothers, it may be only weeks after giving birth and for others it may be a couple of years or more.
When breastfeeding stops, it’s likely your menstrual cycles will gradually return to normal. This does not mean, however, that one cannot fall pregnant while breastfeeding, you still can as this article explains.
Hopefully this article has helped to reassure you about things you may have worried about with breastfeeding and your menstrual cycle. Perhaps you’ve also learned an interesting fact or two about how amazing your body is to work in sync with your menstrual cycle while still nourishing your little one.