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Breast Feeding

Menstral worries

03/20/2000

Question:

I haven`t had my menstral period yet after having my baby over 3 months ago. I had complications after the birth and they did a dnc on me could this or strictly breast feeding be the reason?

Answer:

If your baby is fully/exclusively, or almost fully, breastfed, it is very likely that you are not menstruating due to a different hormonal balance that prevents ovulation. When a woman isn`t ovulating, she also doesn`t have a menstrual period. (Scientists are not completely certain how this works.) There is even a name for the delay in the return of the menstrual cycle when breastfeeding--lactational amenorrhea. The length of time this lasts depends on how a baby breastfeeds and individual differences in mothers. Many women consider lactational amenorrhea to be one of the biggest benefits of breastfeeding for Mother!

Because full breastfeeding can prevent ovulation for several months, research of breastfeeding women in many parts of the world have found the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) to be a reliable form of birth control for contraception. However, it is important to learn how LAM "works" and how to know when another form of birth control is needed before depending on it alone. For instance, it is reliable contraception only when: 1) a baby is less than 6 months, 2) a baby is fully, or almost fully, breastfeeding, 3) a baby does not go long periods (4-6 hours) without breastfeeding, and 4) the mother has not experienced any vaginal bleeding or spotting (since lochia/post-birth bleeding) ended.

Your menstrual period is likely to return within weeks to months after adding other foods to your baby`s diet, if not before. However, many mothers don`t have a period for months after introducing solid foods. This longer delay may be more common in women who breastfeed before offering their babies other foods at any feeding and their babies tend to continue to breastfeed frequently.

I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if you need more information. All the best to you and your breastfed baby!

References:

Grimes, DA & Wallach, M (Eds.) (1997). Modern contraception: updates from the contraception report. Totowa, NJ: Emron.

Lawrence, RA & Lawrence, RM (1999). Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession (5th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby. .

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati