Breastfeeding and Periods: Separating Fact from Fiction!

Ah, the joys of motherhood! The sleepless nights, the endless diaper changes, and of course, the constant barrage of unsolicited advice from well-meaning people. One topic that seems to cause confusion among even the most experienced parents is breastfeeding and periods. There are so many myths floating around out there that it can be tough to know what's true and what's not.

Breastfeeding and Periods: Separating Fact from Fiction!

Fear not, dear reader - I'm here to set the record straight! In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at some common misconceptions about breastfeeding and periods.

Myth #1: You Can't Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding

We've all heard this one before - if you're exclusively breastfeeding your baby on demand (meaning no scheduled feedings or supplementing with formula), you won't ovulate again until you stop nursing altogether. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this isn't entirely true.

While it's certainly possible for exclusive breastfeeding to delay ovulation in some women (but definitely NOT ALL) , there's no guarantee that it will work as an effective form of birth control. This is because every woman's body is different - some may resume fertility within weeks after giving birth, while others may go months without a period.

To make matters more complicated (yeah right!), even if you haven't gotten your period back yet doesn't necessarily mean you're not ovulating. Sperm can live inside a woman for up to five days after intercourse (no wonder we were told sex education was important)! So while unlikely - but still very much plausible, yes Virginia; you could become pregnant whilst “breastfeeding on demand”.

The bottom line? If avoiding pregnancy is important to you (or if another little bundle of joy wouldn’t put too much strain on your finances), don’t rely solely on breastfeeding as a form of birth control. Talk to your doctor about other options that might be more effective for you.

Myth #2: You Can't Breastfeed While On Your Period

This one's a doozy (sample response: Please don't make me say this word again!), but it's not entirely unfounded. Some women experience a decrease in milk supply during their period, thanks to hormonal fluctuations and changes in breast tissue. This usually happens in the few days leading up to the start of menstruation, and can last until your cycle is over.

But just because your milk production takes a hit doesn't mean you have to stop breastfeeding altogether! Australian National Breastfeeding Helpline emphasise the importance of staying hydrated and nursing frequently; which will help keep both you and baby happy and probably eliminate some cranky moments too!

One point worth mentioning though: many babies may actually experience ease or enhanced relaxation while breastfeeding on/near/nearing mother’s menstrual cycle due to spike in maternal oxytocin levels (which conversely encourages milk flow) even though mom may feel less energetic!

Myth #3: Your Menstrual Blood Will Affect Your Milk Supply

Let me nip it into formation right here, if you're worried that Aunt Flo or her evil cousin Red River whooshing down below, would ruin what little pleasure there is from this whole mumbling awkwardness -then worry no more my friends!

The truth is "Yes", some moms report lower-than-usual milk output during their periods, Due to hormonal shifts associated with menses, BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE…Although these same hormones are responsible for a dip in prolactin (the hormone that stimulates milk production), they also cause an increase in oxytocin levels… hello??? did we forget earlier where I mentioned how PRODTUCTIVE “lil” Junior gets when Mommy bleeds?? Well that same hormone also helps with ‘let-down’ and moving milk through your ducts.

What does all this mean? Well, it could be that you notice a slight dip in your milk supply during your period. However, this is usually temporary and typically resolves on its own within a few days. (So stock up on peanut butter jars.)

Myth #4: You Can't Breastfeed If You Have Cramps

If menstrual cramps have you downing painkillers like they're candy - not to worry! There's no need to stop breastfeeding just because you're experiencing some cramping and looking like an oversized stuffed raccoon…just without the cuteness.

Some women do find that their letdown reflex (the feeling of milk starting to flow) can be more painful or uncomfortable than usual during menstruation. This is likely due to hormonal fluctuations mentioned earlier/that we brushed past; but oh well – life happens right?

Nevertheless, as always make sure baby has latched properly – AND THAT'S A BIG ONE my peeps! With proper latch technique then the discomfort caused by suckling will lessen somewhat and for our relentless warriors out there “IT DOES GET BETTER!”

Myth #5: Breastfeeding Suppresses Your Menstrual Cycle For Good

This one makes me chuckle every single time someone brings it up again!! Some people think that if they breastfeed long enough, they'll never have another period again (please note I did say some not all) . While extended breastfeeding definitely can delay periods into toddler-hood especially if Lactation Amenorrhea Method was properly followed;, eventually most mothers get their cycle back upon weaning or sooner for those who still nurse pretty frequently beyond 6months.

So don’t throw away those sanitary towels just yet ladies!!!!

Let Me Give It Two Cents..

For many new moms worrying about postpartum struggles of all sorts is enough on top of adjusting to a brand new human suddenly living with them, and not really bothering a lot about periods. However, it's important not to get too caught up in the myths we hear from well intentioned acquaintances or friends – creating unnecessary panic.

Hopefully this article has helped clear up some common misconceptions (and given you more reason/sights/reasoning for your maternal happenings). Happy parenting!

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