For some breastfeeding women, if it's not one thing that affects your milk supply, it's another. And for a large amount of women, if it's not one thing, it's all the things associated with your period. So why is it when you put the two together — your period and your milk supply — "something" happens. Sure, it might not affect everyone, but if you find yourself asking, "Why does my milk supply drop during my period?" know that you're not atypical, or even alone. Turns out, there are a few possible reasons why your "monthly flow" could negatively impact your milk supply. The good news, however, is that your milk supply will probably come back up in just a day or two. (No, really, it should, so there's no reason to worry!)
Breastfeeding Basics explains, reporting the following:
"Due to hormonal changes, the taste of the milk may change slightly just before your period starts, and some babies may respond to this by nursing less."
In other words, it's not necessarily your period that's affecting your breast supply, one way or the other. Nope. It's the change in the taste of your breast milY and how your baby may or may not respond to that change. If they're unfazed, you probably won't see a change in your supply. But if they're not into it, well, your milk supply might drop.
Thankfully, according to Breastfeeding Basics, your milk supply should increase quickly once your period starts. The site goes on to explain further, saying:
"Some mothers do notice a temporary drop in their milk supply during the days just before their period starts, and for a few days afterward. As soon as bleeding starts, hormone levels start returning to normal, and the milk supply will increase quickly."
Getting your period can also cause some symptoms that aren't all that pleasant. Breastfeeding Basics says, "Some women experience nipple tenderness during ovulation, or in the days before their period starts." Your period can also cause uterine cramping, but taking a calcium and/or magnesium supplement around the time you start ovulating — and continuing through your first few days of your period — can help mitigate these symptoms.
Is there anything else that might be making your milk supply drop? A few things you might not have thought about could be lowering your milk supply, according to experts. For example, a selection of herbs can make your milk supply drop if you eat a significant amount of them, according to Parents. The site goes on to explain further, writing, "Sage, peppermint, oregano, lemon balm, parsley, and thyme are said to decrease milk flow during breastfeeding when taken in large quantities." Who knew, right?
That's not all, though. (Because this is parenting, my friends, and there's always a "catch.") According to Parents, your milk supply could decrease if you're taking allergy and/or cold medications. But the upside side is that those shouldn't affect your milk supply if it has already been established prior to taking the aforementioned medications. Hormonal birth control can also affect your milk supply if it contains estrogen, but there are many kinds of hormonal birth control options that don't contain estrogen and, as a result, won't affect your milk supply.
If you experience lowered milk supply during your period, you can try taking fenugreek supplements. KellyMom does, however, remind parents that studies regarding the ability for fenugreek to increase milk supply are mixed, at best. KellyMom goes on to explain further, writing:
"Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change. Some mothers do not see a change in milk production when taking fenugreek."
Knowing why your body reacts to certain situations is half the battle, dear reader, so at least arming yourself with the aforementioned information can help you clear the next breastfeeding hurdle. And, as always, if you have any additional questions you should consult your health care practitioner.
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