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Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding and insomnia

09/06/2006

Question:

I am a breastfeeding mother experiencing chronic insomnia. I have had trouble sleeping since my baby was born, it seems to get worse as the months go by with occassional good nights. I am wondering if I stop nursing if that will help my sleeping. I am taking very good quality vitamins and minerals and also an all natural progesterone cream to help balance my hormones. Will this help me get my period and then help me sleep better? Is there an average time when breastfeeding mothers generally seem to get their periods?

Answer:

I am sorry to hear about your insomnia.  Have you checked out other possible causes such as postpartum depression? Are you feeling hypervigilant, unable to let yourself relax because of concern for baby? I recommend you follow-up with your primary practitioner.

Return of menses with breastfeeding tends to depend on the number of feedings you are doing per 24 hours.  If you are breastfeeding exclusively and feeding 8 or more times a day, menses may not return until you start to wean, decreasing the number & frequency of feedings.  I am not sure that using a progesterone cream will help your periods come back any faster as progesterone is not the hormone that inhibits the breastfeeding hormones, especially once breastfeeding is well established.  The elevated levels of oxytocin & prolactin are interfering with the normal hormone feedback loop controlling the monthly cycle.  Once the oxytocin & prolactin levels fall with decreased feeding frequency the normal cycle of reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, LSH, FSH) will be reestablished.

 

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Response by:

Barbara   Morrison, PhD, CNM, FNP Barbara Morrison, PhD, CNM, FNP
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University