Pregnancy

Breastfeeding Won’t Always Keep Your Period At Bay, Because Mother Nature Is A B*tch

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My period came back two months after the birth of both of my children. I exclusively breastfed my first for seven months. I exclusively breastfed my second for almost a year. Sorry to rain on your postpartum parade, but sometimes you get really unlucky and your period comes back even though the internet basically promises you it won’t. The internet is a big, fat, filthy liar.

It’s  not just the internet that led me to believe I would be footloose and period-free the entire time I was breastfeeding my child; there are all sorts of people who claim that breastfeeding is actually an effective form of birth control. My midwife was one of them. So was Planned Parenthood. Apparently, if you exclusively breastfeed and feed your child a certain number of times a day, you can use breastfeeding as birth control for six months. Seriously. It’s called LAM for Lactational Amenorrhea Method. It’s clearly not the birth control I used. I was experiencing the most awkward diaphragm fitting, ever — mere months after I had my child. Because, of course I was. I never get the perks.

When it returned so soon after I had my first child, I was convinced there was just some weird spotting going on. I was in denial. I fully needed a tampon, yet insisted on buying pantyliners because of course there was no way I was waking up every three hours to feed a child and not getting the major benefit of breastfeeding. I guess most would argue the major benefit is a better immune system for your child – blah, blah, blah. I just didn’t want anything to be going on with my uterus for a while. Is that so much to ask?

I soon discovered that the cute pantyliners I bought were not going to cut it, and I would need to fully accept my fate. Every time I heard a new mom talking about how great it was to not have a period, I would snarl. Why was Mother Nature fucking with me again? What the hell was her problem?

Baby number two came, and the same, exact thing happened. I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe the emotions I felt when I saw — 7 weeks after giving birth — that I had started my God-forsaken period again. I have no words, so I’ll just use this:

Jack-Nicholson-throwing-plates

(-via)

and this:

Hades-rage

(-via)

and this:

Sue_is_in_a_rage

(-via)

Dr. Sears claims that if you practice feeding on demand and not supplementing with formula — the average postpartum mom’s period doesn’t come back for 14.5 months. 14.5 months!

If your dumb period came back while you were exclusively breastfeeding, you are not alone. It happens to the best of us.

49 Comments

  1. ohladyjayne

    November 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Definitely true.

    My sisters are 10.5 months apart. My mom exclusively breastfed my oldest sister.

    Seriously.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      And wow. Fertile lady, your mom!

    • ohladyjayne

      November 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Yes, apparently so. And being told this information as a young teen meant that I was completely religious about taking my birth control and always used a barrier back-up….man, I have got to remember to casually mention our genetic predisposition for being extremely fertile when my daughter is older.

  2. Lilly

    November 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    14.5 months — Dr Sears is becoming more Dr Oz-y everyday. Does becoming famous make you forget medical school?

    I think like most things there is a bell-curve, some people get it back early, some people it stays away but for most women I have talked to it seems to come back sometime around 6 months or so (usually close to when solids start becoming a thing).

  3. LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

    November 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is legit! Of course, you wouldn’t have been able to use it as a form of birth control after your first period : (. However, some of the research I’ve done has suggested that chances are you didn’t actually ovulate before that first postpartum period: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/fertility/

    It is possible to have one or (occasionally) more periods before you start ovulating. In this case, menstruation begins during the first stage of the return to fertility –before ovulation returns. Cycles without ovulation are most common during the first six months postpartum. For other mothers, the first menstruation is preceded by ovulation – a longer period of lactational amenorrhea increases the likelihood that you will ovulate before that first period.

    It sucks that you got your period back before you wanted to. I’m alway curious to hear when other breastfeeding moms got theirs because I’m 10 months out and still no flow.

    • CMJ

      November 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      Ehhhhhh, for me, that website isn’t the most comforting place to tell me that this actually works.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      The site I linked? Why not?

    • Tina

      November 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      I get what you’re saying, but doesn’t it just feel super risky to have sex without any contraception at all when technically you could have not gotten your first period yet but been ovulating at the time of sex? I know it says it’s possible and maybe even common within the first six months to have a period and not ovulate, but you can never know for sure! I’m sure some people don’t mind the risk and of course the chances are lower than if you were supplementing or only FF, but can you really call it a LEGIT method…?

    • Andrea

      November 3, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      It’s only a legit method if you won’t really mind getting pregnant.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 4, 2014 at 8:27 am

      That’s a fair question, and to be perfectly honest, we tried for a really long time before using fertility treatments for our daughter, so a “surprise” baby would be very welcome in our family. However, Planned Parenthood lists LAM as a legit method of birth control on par with the pill provided you follow it correctly (baby must be under six months old, breastfeeding exclusively, breastfeeding every 4 hours or less, and you can’t have gotten your first period yet). It might not be practicable for a lot of moms, but there is some science behind it. Also, personally, I’m someone for whom hormonal birth control has a lot of negative side effects, so I may be more open minded towards alternative methods than most.

    • Tina

      November 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Yeah that totally makes sense, it worked in your particular circumstances and that’s awesome. However, despite the science behind it, I also can’t help but wonder if the numbers are also a bit skewed in comparing it to be on par with the pill. Looking at that effectiveness chart, by pregnancies in 100 women, I’m thinking that the numbers might be that low because the first six months after a baby is born are when most couples have no/less sex than before. Considering the first two months are normally a write-off for the average couple, and then adding in everything else that puts a damper on a sex life after baby during the next four months (no sleep or energy, low sex drive, medical problems, less time alone, stress, etc.), I’m inclined to think the actual effectiveness of LAM could look very different if couples were having sex as often as before they got pregnant. It might be more of a combination of LAM and abstinence that makes it effective.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      I don’t know, maybe? Full disclosure here: I am not a doctor. But Planned Parenthood is a pretty credible source; their mission is to educate and provide reproductive choices.

    • Maria Guido

      November 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Ooh – lucky!

    • noelle 02

      November 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Kid1- 4 months. Kid 2- 4 freaking weeks. Kid 3- 3 months. All exclusively breastfed…but they all slept 6+ hours at night…until 4 months when they began the game of waking every two hours to eat for the next year! My doctor said it was the long stretches at night that brought mine back so early.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 4, 2014 at 8:28 am

      It might have been the long stretches, the LAM requires you to be breastfeeding every 4 hours or less. But hey, at least you got to sleep through the night.

    • ohladyjayne

      November 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      It CAN work, but unless you are ok with getting pregnant, it shouldn’t be your only method.

      See above – my sisters are 10.5 months apart.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Yeah I saw your comment- that’s crazy! But, you could say the same thing about the birth control pill- I know several people who have gotten pregnant while on the pill. It’s either user error or freak fertility (er…not to say that your mom is a freak or anything). I think people just assume that the LAM says that if you’re breastfeeding you can’t get pregnant- which is not the case!

  4. SA

    November 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I had a low supply, but breastfeed for 6 months anyway. Period back at 3 months. Do people really still say that you can not get pregnant while breasfeeding?! Everyone including my doctor was like DO NOT START HAVING SEX AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE ON BIRTH CONTROL!!!!

  5. Erin Murphy

    November 3, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I didn’t get my period for 9 months (yay) but I also didn’t lose weight breast feeding. …

  6. Foleygirl24

    November 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Same exact thing happened to me. Got my period 7 weeks after giving birth, and was exclusively breastfeeding around the clock, it seemed like. My doctor drilled into my head that nursing is not effective birth control. She told me that only 25% of women will NOT get their period at all while exclusively breastfeeding.

  7. EX

    November 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    IUD. Haven’t had a period other than while trying to conceive in 4 years. It rocks.

    • momma425

      November 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      I got an IUD 8 weeks after having my daughter. No period for five years (plus the 9 months of pregnancy and lack of period). It was glorious. And I never had to even think about breastfeeding one day in my life.

      I had my iud taken out in Feb. I miss it!!!

    • Andrea

      November 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      I have recently started regretting my husband getting a vasectomy because now I can’t really have a reason for using any form of BC that will take away my periods.
      But seriously, I am almost 40 years old, my youngest child is 11 years old, that factory is CLOSED. WHY do I keep getting them??? There is ZERO point to this Mother Nature! Give up already!!!!

    • NotTakenNotAvailableWTFDisqus

      November 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      I know that this is not one of the expected side effects of Essure (no lining thinner built into that one), but I hope that my reproductive organs will react to having their primary function taken away by shrugging and saying, “Welp, guess there’s no need for that anymore.” I had a pretty erratic and very widely-spaced period when I couldn’t take BC before in any event, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I lose that particular ability entirely!

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      November 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

      With an IUD my period is shorter but sooooooo heavyyyyyyyy. And I’m still breastfeeding. I got my period about 2 months postpartum ugh.

  8. Alene

    November 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Preach.

    I gave birth on September 27th. I got my period on October 28th. I am exclusively breastfeeding and have 300 oz of breastmilk in my freezer.

    #allthecondoms

    • lea

      November 4, 2014 at 2:02 am

      Ripped off! I hadn’t even finished my post partum bleeding 1 month after birth, so to get your period so soon seems a cruel joke. 🙁

  9. Andrea

    November 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Who the fuck says you won’t get pregnant while breastfeeding??? Not anyone with a minute of medical training that’s for sure. I got it drilled by EVERYONE, the doctors, the nurses, the midwives, everyone that BFing is NOT a form of a birth control!

    • Harriet Meadow

      November 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      My sister-in-law uses breastfeeding as her only form of birth control. She breastfeeds each kid for about a year, then as soon as she stops she gets pregnant again. She hasn’t had a period in over 7 years.

    • ohladyjayne

      November 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      A few of my friends used to work at a pregnancy centre for teens (not the scary kind) and there was a pro-breastfeeding mandate, with “birth control” being touted as one of the benefits. After talking to me, my friends got that fixed.

  10. Edify

    November 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I’m with you. 15 weeks and 10 weeks. The second time, I’d been liner free for 2 weeks post birth before my period arrived. I felt so so ripped off.

  11. Melissa

    November 3, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Yup, got it back at 3 months pp with both my kids (EBF 13 months and 11 months and counting, respectively) and it comes like clockwork every 26 days. And heavier than it ever was before kids. Such a joy.

  12. Cindy Ailey

    November 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Yes, definitely did for me.

  13. Nica

    November 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Yep, I got a whole nine week vacation while bf’ing both my kids. A whole 9 weeks. Woo hoo.

  14. Melissa Lepley

    November 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Sometimes breastfeeding works to stop your period. My son is 19 months and I haven’t gotten mine yet… of course, I’m 8 months “wow, you really can accidentally catch that very first egg” pregnant with boy #2, so your results may vary.

  15. Youthier

    November 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Geez, I didn’t even finish postpartum bleeding for 5 weeks! I would have been pissed about a period at 7 weeks. I BFed for 7 months and period returned after 8.

  16. Rad

    November 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Mine came back after 7 weeks too, with exclusively breastfeeding on demand

  17. Marie

    November 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I got my period at about 6-8 weeks after each baby while exclusively breastfeeding. The odd thing for me was that after my period returned, my milk dried up! We were all established and everything but once that period came back my kids started acting all fussy and hungry and not gaining weight despite nursing around the clock. I believe my lactation consultants exact words were, “well, that’s not supposed to happen.” I ended up having to switch to formula by three months because they just weren’t getting enough food and my stupid boobs wouldn’t work anymore. Can’t say for sure it was related to getting my period back, but it’s odd that it happened at that exact time for both of them.

  18. BeyondthC

    November 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Me too. 3 months pp. Lamest thing ever.

  19. Julie

    November 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I gave birth to my son July 10th 2013. Still don’t have it.

    I only nurse him on one breast per day, for 15 minutes at bed time. Just lucky I guess.

    Although, I’m sure once it does come back, it will be the worst one ever.

  20. aheb

    November 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I took the mini pill while breastfeeding, so that is a factor, but it took 18 months with #1 (he was only nursing once a day) and #2 just turned 1 and still no period. He’s still nursing about 4-6 times a day. My kids are 2.5 years apart, so I’ve had about 5 periods since summer 2010.

  21. Harriet Meadow

    November 3, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I got my period back one week after I stopped breastfeeding, which was when my son was 10 months. And I had been supplementing with formula for several months, not to mention the fact that he was sleeping through the night starting at 4 months (6 months consistently). Maybe it was a coincidence that my lackluster breastfeeding ended about when my period was going to come back anyway, because according to the LAM method there is no way my breastfeeding habits should have cut it…

  22. iamtheshoshie

    November 4, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I got really lucky and had relatively mild lochia and am 9 months postpartum with no period. It’s pretty awesome. Though I’m a little worried that I’m going to have to wean completely before I can get pregnant. My body is crazy sensitive to any hormonal wackiness.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      November 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

      I’m right there with you. I’d like to start trying again sooner rather than later, but so far there is no sign that I’m even ovulating again 10 months postpartum. My child is reluctant to wean even to solids and I think I’m just going to have to try to be patient.

  23. cruiseyman

    November 4, 2014 at 2:04 am

    I got my period 4 mths after my first, was pregnant again by the time he was 8 mths and period again 3 months after the second baby. Both breast fed. Am now too scared to let hubby near me….

  24. Andrea

    November 4, 2014 at 8:05 am

    In my previous fundamentalist life, I was taught that what is called “ecological” breastfeeding” is the only way to keep your period at bay after the baby is born. You have to wear the baby at your breast all the time, including in bed, and let them breastfeed on their schedule, not yours, so it sucks way more (or is way more awesome, depending on how you roll) than exclusive breastfeeding.

    Unrelated, I see that there is another Andrea here (hi!); this comment is my first one on this article.

  25. LittleBird

    November 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Man, that sucks! My little boy is 18 months old so he only nurses 2-3 times in 24 hours but my period has yet to return. No signs of ovulating, either. I must be really sensitive to the hormones or something, but whatever is going on, I’d rather get pregnant on the first egg out of the gate since 2012 than get my monstrous periods back. It’s been GLORIOUS!

  26. Amanda

    November 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I had the opposite problem. Breast feeding I am pretty sure destroyed my cycle. I breast fed for a year with the first two and my period never came back until 3-4 months after I was 100% weaned. At which point is get pregnant again (intentionally) My third was my last so I breastfed her for two years after which my period took five months to come back and has literally never been regular or frequent since.

  27. Kite

    November 7, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Well… I don’t have to worry about accidental pregnancy, but periods make me feel super-shitty, so I have that to look forward to again, probably sooner than I want (which is never, though menopause sucks too), after I give birth.

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