When you are breastfeeding, in particular exclusively breastfeeding, your period may not return for 6-18 months. This is due to the hormones of ovulation being suppressed because of prolactin, the breastfeeding hormone, therefore you won’t ovulate and then don’t get a period. The time at which your body decides to start producing the ovulation hormones again and you get your period back is very individual and every mama will experience it differently. The most common time for you to get your period back is when your baby starts eating solids or sleeping for longer periods and not breastfeeding as much.
Some mama’s report a drop in their breastmilk supply for a few days or weeks when their period returns, while others notice no drop at all. This can be caused by the hormonal fluctuations your body is experiencing. You may notice bub is fussing more at the breast, especially if your let-down takes a bit longer than usual. The hormonal changes can also cause your milk to taste slightly different. If you do notice a decrease in your breastmilk supply, it is normally resolved when you finish your period. We have put together a list of a few ways to help keep up your breastmilk supply when your period returns.
6 ways to increase your milk supply once your period returns:
Discuss concerns with GP or lactation consultant
The first step in investigating and treating low milk supply in the postpartum period is to seek professional advice from your GP and referral to a lactation consultant (LC). An LC is a highly experienced midwife whom is trained to assist mamas with any breastfeeding concerns. Your GP or LC will support and help you increase your milk supply to what your baby needs. Sometimes a blood test may also be recommended by your GP to check your full blood count and iron levels.
Supplements including calcium & magnesium
While you are breastfeeding and for your postpartum period, it is a great idea to take practitioner quality maternal supplements / a multivitamin for at least one year post partum. These will help provide your body with addition nutrients, as well as your diet, to support you while breastfeeding and help maintain a good supply.
If you’re not taking prenatal or breastfeeding supplements, calcium and magnesium can assist maintain your milk supply. When you begin ovulating again and your period returns, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone increase, which causes the calcium content in your blood to decrease. Low calcium levels are actually proven to interfere with milk production, particularly in the middle of your menstrual cycle around the time of ovulation. A combined supplement of calcium and magnesium is recommended. Calcium, iron, magnesium, b complex, omegas, zinc, selenium, pre and probiotics are all important for gut health. We recommend seeing a naturopath to help guide you on a supportive post partum supplement regime.
Increase breastfeeds or pumping sessions
Remember when it comes to breastmilk production SUPPLY = DEMAND. The more you put your baby to the breast for breastfeeds or pump, the more breastmilk you will make. If your baby is attached well at the breast, the quickest way to increase milk supply is to feed more often. Ensure to breastfeed on demand whenever your baby shows hunger cues, and to help increase your milk supply you will need to feed your baby more than usual. Offering the breast every 2-3 hours during the day so baby is having additional feeds than normal is one way to do this.
If you are exclusively expressing or pumping after a breastfeed, try to keep pumping until you experience a second let down. You can even try ‘power pumping’ to assist increase your milk supply. Power pumping is simply pumping on and off over a one hour period to try and mimic a baby cluster feeding and signal to your body to make more milk. Power pumping is normally around 20mins of pumping, 10mins off, 10mins pumping, 10mins off, 10mins pumping.
Simple steps to remember before breastfeeding or pumping
Going back to basics with a few things to remember to do before breastfeeding or expressing that will help bub drain your breasts to encourage more milk production. If you’re able to, do as much skin to skin with your baby as possible, especially before a breastfeed or pumping session. Use warm compresses or heat packs pre-feed or before pumping to encourage milk flow as well as massage. Try massaging your breasts downwards towards the nipple and on the sides while your baby feeds or you are pumping. Also remember to take some big deep breaths and relax to encourage a let-down during a feed. Remove distractions, get comfortable in a feeding chair, play some music or meditation track, have a drink or snack close to you and try to concentrate on relaxing every part of your body.
Enhance your diet
To help your milk supply and production, ensure you are consuming a balanced diet with the recommended water intake for hydration. If you struggle to drink enough water, or are needing some extra hydration, our Motherhood Hydration Powder, is perfect for you. Natural, plant-based and designed for all stages of motherhood. Loaded with vitamin C and nourishing electrolytes to help your body stay hydrated.
If you are unsure of how to better balance your diet, and eat a variety of plant foods, chat with a naturopath or nutritionist, who is specialised in women's health.
Galactagogues are a food, herb or medication that is seen to help increase milk supply. Galactagogues work by increasing the prolactin hormone in the body, which is the main hormone for milk production. Natural galactagogues include fenugreek, blessed thistle, whole grains, dark leafy greens, chickpeas, almonds, ginger and spices. Research some delicious meal ideas that contain galactagogues. Here at Franjo Kitchen, we use natural, wholesome ingredients that are packed with galactagogues to create our delicious, nourishing cookies. Naturopath formulated, our cookies are created to give your milk supply a boost and your body some much-needed nutrients.
Domperidone or Motilium is a galactagogue medication which requires professional advice and a prescription from your GP before commencing. Domperidone increases the level of prolactin hormone, and in combination with expressing or breastfeeding frequently, will help increase your milk supply.