Imagine this. You’re two months postpartum, finally figuring out the rhythm of breastfeeding, and finally starting to feel like yourself again when, surprise! Your long lost Aunt Flo is knocking at your door. If you’re anything like me you’re thinking, “She must be lost. No visitors yet please!”
While breastfeeding has been said to keep Aunt Flo from showing up for a while, she can still arrive earlier than expected. The onset of her return following pregnancy varies greatly from woman to woman. Did you know it’s possible to have a non-ovulatory period (meaning no egg was released that cycle) during the initial 6 months postpartum? This isn’t the case for everyone but it can happen. Just like you can have a period once and then not have another one again for several months. It can take time for your body to find its rhythm again.
A factor that commonly, but not always, influences the return of your period is the frequency of nursing. Once your baby is going for longer stretches without feeding, such as through the night, this often triggers your period to return. Some women notice a drop in their milk supply often from mid-cycle to around the time of their period. If you’re one of those people there are some things you can try!
As stated in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “A daily dose of 500 to 1,000 mg of a calcium and magnesium supplement from the middle of your cycle through the first three days of your period may help minimize any drop in supply.” If you supplement more than 500 mg of calcium per day it’s recommended that you spread out the dose you’re taking throughout the day. Consuming no more than 500 mg of calcium at a time helps improve absorption.
If your baby is going for longer stretches between feedings then temporarily adding power pumping to your daily routine can be an option. Here’s a common way to power pump:
It’s important to make sure you’re using the proper size flange to avoid nipple damage and maximize output. There should be no pain, your nipple should move freely within the flange tunnel and not too much of your areola should be pulled into the flange tunnel. So be sure to check you’re using the proper size before starting.
Power pumping may also take a trial period as everyone responds differently. It may take a few days for you to notice an increase in your supply. Make note of how quickly or slowly you notice changes so you can better prepare yourself for the following month.
You can also try consuming ingredients that are known to help boost lactation. MilkBliss cookies contain rolled oats, brewer’s yeast and flaxseed, the three ingredients that have been found to help increase milk supply. They’re delicious and just too cookies a day leading up to and during your period could help prevent that dip that you’re experiencing.
La Leche League International,, Weissinger, D., West, D. & Pitman, T. (2010). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th edition).