Your period is back. What it means for your milk supply.
If your milk supply dropped and your period returned around the same time or a couple of weeks later, don’t blame your period. It had nothing to do with it. It’s just a consequence of your hormones changing behind the scenes. Here’s how it works.
Period and Milk Supply: How It Happened
Prolactin is the milk making hormone. Estrogen is the fertility hormone. They don’t like each other much. In fact you could call them enemies. During the second and third trimester Prolactin levels are on the rise, but no milk is made because Estrogen and her partner Progesterone (the pregnancy hormone) keep Prolactin off the dance floor. Prolactin does manage to prepare the breasts for making milk, but that’s all Estrogen and Progesterone will let her do.
After birth, things change rapidly. Estrogen and her sidekick Progesterone have a seat now that the long dance of pregnancy and birth are finished. No longer a wall flower, Prolactin hits the dance floor. Each time your baby nurses (or you pump) you keep the music going. Prolactin will keep dancing and making more milk as long as the music plays.
But Estrogen doesn’t like sitting out. She’s getting quite jealous that Prolactin is hog- ging the dance floor. Estrogen will look for any gap in the music and when she finds it, she’s going to burst onto the dance floor and kick Prolactin back to the sidelines where she belongs.
If your period is back, that’s what happened. There was enough of a gap between nursings or pumping sessions that the music stopped and Estrogen rushed the dance floor. Maybe it was just the one night baby slept all the way through or maybe it was when you were busy in town all day and didn’t get a chance to pump. Estrogen just needs the slightest opening and she’ll be back.
Estrogen’s first request to the DJ is predictable. She wants to hear the fertility playlist. You know the one. “Where’s My Man,” by Kashia. “PMS” by Mary J. Blige. “Period” by Molemen.
Period And Milk Supply: What You Should Do
Once regular periods are established you may notice your milk supply dropping temporarily just before or during your period and sometimes at ovulation. This is Estrogen’s way of flaunting about the dance floor at the expense of Prolactin. If you find this to be the case, you’ll need to work on increasing your supply during that part of your cycle. See our other articles on how to do this.
You may also benefit from taking a Calcium-Magnesium supplement such as Calcium-Magnesium Complex from Country Life. Levels of calcium regulating hormones fluctuate during periods and can cause calcium levels to drop. Women who have low calcium levels sometimes see a drop in milk supply. The magnesium is simply a carrier that helps your body absorb the calcium. It’s a common enough problem that if you’re seeing regular milk supply issues that seem tied to your period, you should test this simple and inexpensive treatment.