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Periods whilst breastfeeding

Hi Adeline,

Not sure if you can help me with this one? My daughter is 17 months old and still breastfeeding (she is no where near to weaning but that is another topic altogether). She feeds about 3 times a day and then around two to three times a night. My periods haven't returned and I'm not sure whether I should be concerned by this or if it's just normal for some women.


Helen Swan

Hi Jo
I am no expert on breastfeeding though I have some credentials in natural health - but here goes. Yes, its normal for periods not to return if you are bf frequently (which you are). Its also normal for periods to come back really soon - mine did after 8 weeks breastfeeding! So, if you are lucky enough to feel like having sex, remember always to use contraception, unless you are genuinely happy to get pregnant!
It is possible there could be a medical reason for the periods not returning. You dont sayanything about your menstrual history before pregnancy, eg. irregular periods or polycyctic ovaries, any hormone treatments etc.  At this stage, unless you have symptoms that bother you, I would not worry.
I congratulate you on bf so long. You are unusual and I wouldnt be surprised if some people criticise you for it. As long as your daughter is happy, filling her nappies and growing, it is fabulous for her health and a really special thing. I expect she is also eating a variety of solids as well and when you wean I am sure she will be fine.  If you do want to cut it down, I would aim to reduce the night feeds first, and maybe not let her suck for comfort but only for a genuine feed. Others may disagree....
best of luck

Hi There,
Glad to hear you're still going strong!! Laughing
Rest assured that diturbances to your menstral cycle during lactation are to be expected, and every woman's experience will be different, based on all sorts of factors including frequency of feeds, supplements, diet and exercise and genetic predisposition. I myself am feeding a two year old who prefers BM to solids, and I sometimes go for months at a time without a period.
Some women begin their menses sooner, some later, but unless you are feeding every couple of hours day and night, dont assume that you are not ovulating. Wink
If you and your baby are well, there is no need for concern. Breasfeeding is the 'normal' way to feed. Enjoy it!

If you are able to get there and think you would benefit from further reassurance, do come along to the 'Babymilk' morning at Gweal an Top, Redruth on Mon 28th Sept from 10 til 12 am.

Returning to 'Normal'

Hi there Jo

Not sure if this is your first child?

If so, my advice and experience is this:

There is no such thing as normal after birth, if you are still breast feeding the majority of your 'mother' hormones will still be concentrating hard on producing milk to the cost of everything else.

The menstruation cycle takes alot of ATP, i.e energy from the body and hormonally,  your body is saying that you are not ready to concieve again because you are feeding.  That is NOT to say you cannot get  pregnant, so if you are not wishing to fall pregnant again, you will need to use protection.

Do not expect your cyclic functions to return to normal until at least a year after finishing breast feeding, sometimes more, so if you use the contraceptive pill don't relie totally on this.

Occasionally periods never return to 'normal' and may take a shift towards a longer or shorter cycle and may become heavier/lighter/more  painful but these things are quite usual.  

Red flags "things to seek medical advice on" would be prolonged bleeding and extremely painful periods and pain during sex.

I hope this has been helpful.

Good luck!

Amanda King
Registered Osteopath

thanks Helen and Adeline for your help. It seems there is nothing to be concerned about so I shall be thankful for the break!

Helen, It's funny you should mention peoples attitudes to feeding older children. I have always been happy to feed my daughter and not felt at all self concious. However, I am now very aware that I am in the minority and lots of people believe that it is something to be ashamed of and that I should be considered 'alternative'. I now think about other people and their views when i feed in public, it doesn't stop me but I'm still aware. I have also had lots of very helpful comments about the fact that i have done so well to get this far but she doesn't really need it anymore, you have to love well meaning relatives! Still they will have to get used to it, I'm in no rush to wean my little girl, although less night feeds might be nice  Laughing

Thanks also Amanda. Really helpful stuff x


My periods didn't come back until Tate was around 23 months old.  I'm still breastfeeding now, he is nearly 2.5yrs now (and still breastfeeding through my pregnancy although it is just for emotional comfort because no milk is coming out!)...

I wouldn't worry - sounds totally normal.

:0) x

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