If you are one of the lucky mom’s who has still not had the return of her monthly period- then count yourself luck! My menstrual cycle returned when my son Cooper was 6 months old. Prior to that, I had one fluke period when Cooper was two months old. I have had my period three times and each time the week leading up to my period my milk supply decreased significantly. I was terrified that I was drying up. My son was fussy because he was not getting enough milk. The first time this happened I went searching the internet for help. Here is what I discovered has helped me and I hope it will help you:
- calcium/magnesium supplement: take one a day and this is suppose to help with maintaining your milk supply levels prior to your period
- Nurse more frequently: because your supply level is lower, it will mean your child will become hungrier faster. My son is on a 4.5 hour schedule. During the week leading up to my period sometimes feed him every 3.5 hours or less (if needed). Yes, this messes up the schedule somewhat, but it helps him get enough to eat.
- Supplement with frozen breast milk: This I read no where, but I started to do it on my own. I found that I was just not producing enough milk and after each feeding I would offer my son a few more ounces of warmed breast milk that I had stored in our freezer. I stored the milk in ice cube trays. Each ice cube is equal to 1 oz of milk. It was easy for me to take 2-3 cubes out and warm them to account for the decrease in my supply. This method worked the best for my son and I.
- Pump: Your milk can have a slightly different flavor due to the hormonal changes in your body. My son does not nurse well because of the change in flavor. He often will pull off and refuse to relatch even when I have milk left. In order to keep my milk supply up, I often pump after he is done nursing to keep my milk supply up and running. I would then offer him some warmed frozen breast milk that I had previously pumped because it does not have the strange taste he is resisting. Seems to work.
- Funugreek capsules/ more milk plus: I have found both supplements to help increase my milk supply at various times while I have been nursing. I have found the most success at taking more milk plus. I bought it at an organic market. It comes in a liquid form. I took it for 36 hours and saw a huge different in my milk supply. This is not something you would want to take long term, so just do it leading up to your period. http://www.motherlove.com/product_more_milk_plus.php
Other Problems with Breastfeeding while menstruating
- Baby can be more fussier than usual
- might refuse to nurse or shorten length of nursing
- sore nipples
- flavor of milk can appear more sour or bitter- causing baby to refuse nursing or nurse less
Yes, I know it is frustrating that you have to put all this extra work into breastfeeding during your menstration. I know I have had moments when I am totally ready to throw in the towel and say the hex with breast feeding, let’s just switch to formula. But then my period comes, my milk supply returns, and Cooper and I go back to nursing as usual. No one ever said that breast feeding would be easy. And if you are an unlucky one like me, your nipples are so sensitive while mentrating, making breast feeding even more difficult. But hang in there- breast feeding is the best food for your baby and it is worth it!