Managing Period Symptoms While Breastfeeding - A Holistic Approach By Fiona Bestrova

Managing Period Symptoms While Breastfeeding - A Holistic Approach By Fiona Bestrova

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Four AM feeds, hectic emotions, nappy duty, flitting between complete exhaustion and total elation. Having a newborn in your home can feel very overwhelming; but at least, if you’re breastfeeding, there’s no more blood…right?

This is the case for the vast majority of breastfeeding women, but periods return for women at different times, and different intensities. Some breastfeeding women may find their periods return while still feeding, while others may experience period-like symptoms. 

Do you get your period while breastfeeding?

If you choose to breastfeed, it can prevent your period after birth while feeding, or limit it to light spotting. This is the likely outcome if you are breastfeeding consistently, and your period will likely not return for a few months or even a year after childbirth. This is because the hormone you produce while breastfeeding (prolactin) also suppresses ovulation and menstruation. Once you start weaning your baby off breast milk, you can expect to get your regular period back.

However, this isn’t always the case, and some mothers may get irregular periods. This is more likely if you are not exclusively breastfeeding or use a bottle for some feeds. Some breastfeeding women get their period as early as five to six weeks after giving birth.

What if you get your period while breastfeeding?

You may get your period a few weeks after giving birth. If this happens, your first real period may be lighter and have fewer PMS symptoms. Breastfeeding while on your period is perfectly safe for both you and your child. However, changes to your hormones in the premenstrual period may affect your breast milk and your baby’s feeding pattern for a few days:

  • Breast milk can become saltier around ovulation
  • Breasts can feel fuller and tender during ovulation and just before you bleed.
  • Calcium levels in blood go down after ovulation, which can lead to a drop in the milk supply.

How do you deal with nipple tenderness when breastfeeding?

Avoid using numbing cream, as it could interfere with the milk ejection reflex, which helps the baby get milk easily. Instead, you can:

  • Gently massage the sore area before nursing.
  • Use wet heat (such as a warm shower) or dry heat (such as a water bottle) on your breasts right before feeding.
  • Put something cold (a bag of frozen peas is a classic) on swollen breasts after feeding.
  • Wear a cotton bra so air can circulate.
  • Avoid wearing nipple covers or breast shells (a hard, protective cover worn inside your bra).
  • Make the area where you breastfeed comfortable! A chair which supports your arms and back, footstools, and even wraparound nursing pillows can all help.
  • Some over-the-counter pain reliefs can be used, such as ibuprofen.

 If breastfeeding is still too painful, try pumping to keep up your milk supply while you wait for tenderness to pass.

How do I deal with low breast milk supply when on my period?

Any decrease in supply should be temporary if it is caused by your period. If this is the case, the decrease will happen a few days before your period arrives, and when you get it, supply should go back to normal. Some ways to increase production during this part of your menstrual cycle include:

  • Eat a well balanced diet with iron-rich foods, such as red meat or leafy. greens, and milk-boosting foods, such as oatmeal, almonds or fennel
  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Taking calcium and magnesium supplements before and during your period
  • Avoid using a dummy until you and your baby are happy with breastfeeding (at least after one month), as babies latch on to dummies differently to how they breastfeed.
  • Let your baby feed when they want to, for as long as they need to.
  • Try increasing the amount of skin-to-skin contact with your baby before and during feeds.

If your milk supply drops too low, it could be dangerous for your baby. Make sure your baby is getting enough breast milk by checking for things like a consistent weight gain; your baby producing at least 6-8 wet nappies a day; your child appearing content after nursing, and sleeping between feeds; and your newborn latching on at least every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times a day. Make sure you are sure your baby grows appropriately by regularly seeing your GP.

What if you don’t get your period while breastfeeding?

Even if you don’t get your period for the whole duration of your breastfeeding, you can still experience period-like symptoms. This is sometimes referred to as the phantom period, but it doesn’t need to be as daunting as the Scooby-Doo-like name implies - especially since there’s less blood involved than normal!

 You may experience some spotting. Many women also experience PMS symptoms without bleeding, a sign that your body is “gearing up” to return to your regular menstrual cycle. Such symptoms can include bloating and difficulty regulating emotions. It is also not uncommon for breastfeeding mothers to experience cyclical cramping. Here are some ways to help you endure such period-like symptoms:

  • Calcium supplements can help with PMS-related feelings of sadness, irritability, and anxiety. Such supplements include milk, yoghurt, and fortified orange juice and cereal.
  • Vitamin B-6 can also help with some PMS symptoms. This is found in fruit, fish, chicken and turkey.
  • 8 hours sleep and 30 minutes of exercise are easy bits of advice to give - and of course, they really do help - but much harder to achieve as a new mum! Try your best, going on a short walk as often as possible is a great start. For cramps, gentle exercise like yoga is also really beneficial.
  • Use painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • Use a heat pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel on your tummy.
  • Be gentle to yourself! It’s emotional enough becoming a new mother, and period-like symptoms can make it even harder to regulate this. A hot chocolate, a soppy rom-com, and a good cry can make you feel more human.

 When you stop breastfeeding, your period will eventually return, but it will likely be irregular. For more information on your first period post-breastfeeding, click here.

Regardless of when your period returns, it's important to closely monitor your menstrual cycle and ensure your body is getting back to its natural rhythm. Look after your body by using period tracking apps to look out for red flags and changing your sanitary pads or tampons regularly. A great way to prepare for your period returning is to stock up on FabLittleBags for hygienic, confident and responsible disposal of your period products. These great sanitary disposal bags mean doing the right thing feels fabulous. 


Weishaupt, Jeffrey. “What Should You Know About Breastfeeding During Your Periods? What Can You Expect?” WebMD, 11 October 2023,

Murray, Donna. “Your Period While Breastfeeding.” Verywell Family, 8 November 2022,

Littleton, Kristen. “Breastfeeding FAQs: Pain and Discomfort (for Parents).” Kids Health, 2021,

NHS. “Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding.”

 Murray, Donna. “Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?” Verywell Family, 3 October 2020,

 NHS. “Milk supply - Start for Life.” NHS,