Period stopped and started -- is this from nursing?

My son is eight-and-a-half months old. He has been nursing, exclusively for the first four-and-a-half months, and after that, with solids as well. He has four ounces or less per day of formula/yogurt. He nurses frequently at night (sigh!). In spite of this, my period returned when my son was four months old. For the next three months, I had normal periods, at slightly longer intervals (31 days) than pre-pregnancy (28-30). Well, this month, it is now day 36, and nothing yet! Can lactation cause this? I could not find any literature to indicate that breastfeeding can cause ovulation/menstruation to disappear once it has returned (esp if there has been no change in breastfeeding pattern). Could I be pregnant!?!


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Some breastfeeding moms do have an earlier than expected return to fertility - even when breastfeeding exclusively (and frequently.) Lactational amenorrhea (the time during nursing when you are free of your monthly period) depends on many factors, such as the frequency of breastfeeding, the total time your baby spends at your breast, and the amount of time in between feeds (e.g. whether baby sleeps through the night.) Other factors obviously are involved, since this extended menses-free time does not occur in all exclusively breastfeeding mothers. We still have more to learn in this area. See my letter, No period at 14 months postpartum, for more information.

Once menstruation has resumed, especially when during the first few months of lactation, there is a chance that while still breastfeeding your cycle may take a break. This can happen if your baby begins to spend more time at your breast, and go shorter intervals between feeds. Perhaps there has been a slight change in your baby's feeding pattern that you haven't really noticed.

On the other hand, if you made love near the time of ovulation and didn't use a method of birth control, there is a chance you may indeed be pregnant. (Once your menstrual cycle resumes and/or your baby is not exclusively breastfeeding - all nutritional and sucking needs are met at breast - you are no longer considered to be infertile.) You might want to consider having a pregnancy test if you feel this may be a possibility.

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