Menstruation and Breastfeeding: How to Skip the Dip

Some women’s periods return within months of giving birth and others do not until after they fully wean their baby.  There are many factors that influence when fertility and menstruation return.  Everyone’s body is different.  Every baby and their feeding rhythm is unique.  It’s common for a birthing parent’s first period to return some time after 9 months when the baby is starting to eat more solids, sleeping longer stretches, and is starting to breastfeed a little bit less. Read on to learn more about Menstruation and Breastfeeding..

Some women experience a dip in their milk supply when their period returns.  This dip may start around the time of ovulation and should be temporary.  It is thought to be related to a decrease in prolactin, a hormone that tells your body to produce more milk.

Menstruation and Breastfeeding

How do you know if your baby is getting enough milk?

How do you know if your milk supply may have dipped?  Watch your baby when they feed.  Are they normally content while nursing but now they are suddenly fussing at the breast and then popping off?  Or maybe your baby has been refusing to nurse all together… Some babies will be less keen to nurse if the milk isn’t flowing easily.  

Is your baby taking big sucks and swallows while they are breastfeeding?  This is a good sign that they are getting some milk.  A baby that seems content after a feed, accumulates an adequate number of wet and dirty diapers and is following their growth curve is also likely getting enough milk.

But how can you skip the dip?

There’s some evidence that supplementing calcium and magnesium can help prevent the drop in milk supply during menstruation.  It’s been suggested that taking 500-1000mg of calcium and 250-500mg of magnesium starting 3 days before you begin menstruating and continuing until 3 days after your period ends.  It’s important that you take both calcium and magnesium together.  Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if supplementing calcium and magnesium is right for you.

It’s also important to determine whether your period returned because your baby has been nursing less.  For example they may be nursing less often or less effectively due to illness, teething, or mom returning to work.  Breastmilk production is based on a supply and demand relationship. If you are removing less milk, less often, then your body may receive a message to produce less milk.  If you are breastfeeding less frequently, not only will your body produce less milk but you are also more likely to begin ovulating again.

Menstruation and Breastfeeding

Another strategy to prevent your milk supply from dipping during menstruation is to nurse frequently.  Offer the breast frequently during the day.  If your baby doesn’t seem satisfied after nursing on both sides, offer the first side again.  Do some breast massage and breast compressions while your baby is nursing.

Menstruation and Breastfeeding

If your baby has been refusing to nurse or may be on a nursing strike, reach out for help early.  Pump to maintain and rebuild your supply.

If you are concerned about your milk supply suddenly dropping or are having challenges nursing, reach out to your local Mama Coach.  All of the Mama Coaches are lactation counsellors or IBCLCs and can support you with lactation and breastfeeding with a home visit or virtually.

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