Did my milk supply go down because my periods came back early?
If a mother’s period returns before her baby is six months old, she may notice that her milk supply is decreased and her baby is showing signs of not getting enough milk. In rare cases, the milk supply may only be low for a few days before the period is due. The return of periods is often brought on by ineffective breastfeeding. Mothers should review their breastfeeding patterns, consider options to increase their milk supply, and supplement their baby with milk until they have a full milk supply.
A) Describing an early return of periods
Mothers who breastfeed exclusively to around six months, when they start solid foods, and continue breastfeeding on demand thereafter, can expect their periods to return once their baby is 9 months or more.
Periods can return early when milk removal from the breast is not effective. Common reasons include:
However, some mothers get their periods back early without a reason.
Once the periods are back, they will continue.
B) Period-related decreases in milk supply
1) Early return of periods may bring a drop in milk supply
A mother whose periodreturnsbefore the baby is six months oldmaynotice thathermilk supply is decreased and her baby is now showingsigns of not getting enough milk.It is less common to see period-related decreases after the baby is six months old.
The relationship betweenan early return of periods and a decrease inmilk supply is not well understood. When used as contraceptives, the hormones estrogen andprogesteronecandecrease milk production.Similarly, with the return of periods, the amount of estrogen andprogesteroneproduced by the mother’s body rises and falls during each cycle andmay be how early periods affect milk supply.
2) Babies may fuss before a period is due
In rare cases, themilksupply may be low fora few days beforetheperiod is due.Mothers may notice that thebaby isvery fussy during this time but behaves normallyfor the rest of the month.
Consider medication to increase milk supply. We have often found domperidone to be effective in this situation.
2) Feed the baby
Babies may need to be supplemented with milk. Another way to increase the baby’s food intake is to offer more solid foods if they have already been introduced, but most babies who are not growing well in this situation need more milk.
For those babies who are only fussy for a few days before the mother’s periods, the mother can express at other times of the month and use this milk for the fussy days.