You may know that menstruation can affect milk supply. But how much does your period affect your breast milk supply, and how long does the drop in supply last? Here’s what others have experienced with getting their period while breastfeeding.
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To get an idea of the answers to those questions, I did a survey of exclusive pumpers. Exclusive pumpers are uniquely able to provide insight on this, because they are able to see how much milk they produce each day and compare it over time in a way that nursing moms cannot.
I asked nine multiple choice questions about when they got their periods back, how much it affected their milk supply, and how long their supply dipped (if it did) during their periods. In total, the survey had 789 respondents.
Obviously, this is not rigorous scientific research. It’s just an informal survey to give you an idea of what other breastfeeding parents have experienced.
Return of menstruation while breastfeeding
New moms often wonder exactly when their period will return – some want to be be prepared, others want to plan on conceiving again.
Here’s some data on when that happened for the exclusive pumpers I surveyed.
When did you get your period back while breastfeeding?
The timeframe in which exclusive pumpers reported getting their periods back varied quite a bit.
The most common timeframe was between three and six months, but as you can see, this is very individual – it can happen shortly after birth, or not until after a year.
Relationship with weaning
Some people don’t seem to get their period back until after they wean from breastfeeding, but not the majority.
Of those that took the survey, 22% didn’t get their periods back until after weaning.
While a lot of when your period returns is out of your control, one of the factors that we know about include the length of breaks between nursing/pumping sessions. Longer breaks are associated with a quicker return of menstruation.
Additionally, extra nipple stimulation (comfort nursing) and additional time spent snuggling may be associated with a delay in the return of menstruation.
Supply dips during menstruation
A common concern that breastfeeding moms have about the return of their period is that it will affect their milk supply.
Does supply drop during your period?
Some women see small dips in total milk output around the time their period starts.
About 74% of the respondents who had gotten their periods back noticed a drop in breast milk supply associated with menstruation.
How much does your period affect breast milk supply?
Exactly how big is this supply dip? The vast majority of people seem to lose less than 6 oz (180 ml) total per day.
The most common amount that output dipped was between 2 and 4 oz (60-120 ml).
How long does the drop in milk supply during menstruation last?
So if your supply dips, about how long does that last?
Most people notice that their output starts to drop a few days before their period starts.
Most respondents saw their output return to normal levels after their period ended.
Calcium-Magnesium supplements for menstruation supply dips
The theory is that the reduction in milk supply is due to a decrease in calcium blood levels during menstruation, so additional calcium may help.
Does a calcium-magnesium supplement help with milk supply during your period?
Of those that have tried it, some people did believe that calcium-magnesium is helpful for them, but most did not or were not sure.
While this data obviously isn’t rigorous scientific research, hopefully it gives you an idea of what others have experienced and what you might expect. Share your experience how your period affects your breast milk supply in the comments!
- Bonyata, Kelly. “Natural treatments for nursing moms.” Kellymom https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/herbs/natural-treatments/
- Lavine, Halley. “When will I get my first period after birth?” Babycenter https://www.babycenter.com/baby/postpartum-health/first-period-after-pregnancy-what-to-expect_11728