Breast milk is often touted as the ultimate food for infants. It contains all of the necessary nutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, and protein - in addition to antibodies that bolster an infant's immune system. However, there are few areas where research and anecdotal evidence are conflicting when it comes to breast milk – especially with regards to menstruation.
Many people claim that breastfeeding moms' breasts start producing inferior quality milk composition around specific times of their monthly cycle; some are sceptical about this during pregnancy, breastfeeding or 'anytime'-here's what science says:
What Is Menstruation? And Why Interfere With Breastfeeding?
For starters, menstruating can be described as a natural biological process happening each month(or less frequently)when a female body prepares itself for pregnancy by thickening up its uterus lining;and shedding it-off-if no baby conceived-which leads to bleeding through the vaginal canal.
Breastfeeding can interfere with menstruation like ovulation because of two main hormones - prolactin and estrogen. Generally-speaking, prolactin(the hormone responsible for making milk production possible after childbirth) suppresses secretion from gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH) which stimulate the ovaries in preparation for ovulation(releasing eggs).
This period of lactational amenorrhoea (i.e., missing periods due to lactation) post-birth protects mothers against getting pregnant again immediately without properly recovering from childbirth. This protection lasts anywhere between six months up-to over one year depending on various physiological factors such as exclusive vs non-exclusive pumping/breastfeeding ,lifestyle & diet among others.Scientists argue these factors present intercorrelations hence why there's no consistency regarding lengths(even irregularities exist!).
But does that mean your menstrual cycle has NO effect on your breastmilk at all?
Hormonal Changes and Breastmilk Composition:
It's understood that breast milk is often described as the 'complete food' for infants, given its complex nutrient structure. However, in reality an average composition of a mother's breast milk can vary drastically among lactating moms even over time within certain cycles!This variation poses intriguing questions: if menopausal and pre-menarche mothers differ - then what happens between mothers having their natural menstrual periods ? Does it affect the breast milk?
Research has shown some interesting results suggesting potential effects; for example, hormonal changes seem responsible for differences .Studies have identified elevated prolactin levels before ovulation in naturally menstruating breastfeeding mommas potentially causing shift in protein fat content during luteal phase(Phase II-III).Both higher IgA & lower lactose levels have been observed as well.
The above research implies there could be significant shifts between different phases of your cycle that could affect your baby’s feeding experience based on taste an nutrition thus making them fussier-feeders or increase number feedings to compensate.
However, many experts argue this sort of shifting is not likely affecting infant growth via exclusive (where babies only consume human-milk)breastfeeding exclusively provided they are being fed enough.Therefore parents shouldn't worry too much unless they see drop-offs from healthy ranges such weight gain,dry diapers and wet-ed ones etc...
In conclusion, periodic shifts occur naturally with breastfeeding moms! The body goes through various physiological transformations especially regarding hormones during normal monthly cycles which might subtly influence quality(or quantity?)of expressed milk over-time,but these are usually overcome by hungry infants who adapt easily .Experts generally agree though if documented patterns at specific times persist(concerning,and/or harmful),seek medical advice!
Tip:Personally tracking these cyclical changes(as basic as using a period-app!)may make one conscious when to areas prone to risks(if any);and to a certain extent,may improve maternal-child bonding via sharing these intimate details with the one you love.