Is spotting while breastfeeding normal?

Is Spotting While Breastfeeding Normal? Here’s What You Need To Know

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Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey for new mothers, but for many women, it comes with its own set of challenges, one of which is the unpredictability of your menstrual cycle. Some women start their periods when breastfeeding, while others may not have a period for months or even years.

In this article, we will explore the common questions around periods and breastfeeding, including spotting while breastfeeding, whether spotting while breastfeeding is normal and its impact on milk supply.

When do you get your period after giving birth?

For most nursing mothers, their periods return between 6-12 months postpartum, but the time frame varies from woman to woman. Some women may get their periods back as early as 6 weeks after giving birth, while others may not have a period or normal bleeding for several months or even years.

Your periods may not start again until you stop night-time breastfeeding or start giving your baby solid foods, formula, or other milk (weaning).

Your first period after birth

When your period returns while breastfeeding, it can be unpredictable and different from your pre-baby periods. The first period after giving birth may be heavy, long, or irregular, and you may experience cramping or blood clots. Some women may also notice a change in their breast milk supply during their period. This is all normal and can vary from woman to woman.

Does having a period affect breast milk supply?

During your period, you may notice temporarily that your milk supply drops, but it’s usually not significant enough to affect your baby’s nutrition.

Research shows that breastfeeding exclusively and on-demand can help maintain your breast milk production even during your menstrual cycle. However, with irregular periods, some women may experience a more significant drop in milk supply, and it can be a cause for concern.

If you notice a decrease in your breast milk supply during your period, talk to your doctor, and consider taking calcium and magnesium supplements or eating iron-rich foods to support your breast milk production. You may also like to try using protein powders to increase your breastmilk supply.

Early return of your period while breastfeeding

Some nursing mothers may experience an early return of their period while breastfeeding, even if they are exclusively breastfeeding on demand. This is because the hormone changes that occur during breastfeeding may not always suppress ovulation.

A non-ovulatory period may occur, which is a bright red bleeding that is not a real period, and it’s perfectly safe for breastfeeding. However, it’s essential to track your menstrual cycles and talk to a lactation specialist if you have any concerns. If you bottle feed your baby or combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding, your first period could start as soon as 5 to 6 weeks after you give birth.

Can you get your periods when breastfeeding?

Yes, you can get your periods when breastfeeding. Despite what you may read, breastfeeding is not a reliable form of birth control, and it’s possible to ovulate and get pregnant while nursing. If you don’t want to conceive, consider using a reliable birth control method, such as a barrier method or hormonal contraception. Breast feeding alone will not necessarily prevent pregnancy.

If you aren’t nursing as often, which frequently happens during sleep training, once your baby starts sleeping through the night (hurray!) or when you start to introduce your baby to solid foods, you may begin ovulating sooner, and therefore your ability to conceive increases.

How to increase milk supply during periods

To maintain your milk supply during your period, try breast feeding your baby more frequently or pumping milk between nursing sessions. Also, consider taking a calcium and magnesium supplement or eating iron-rich foods to support your milk production. Your calcium levels drop just before your period arrives which also causes your milk supply to drop.

Taking a supplement will help maintain your calcium which in turn helps maintain your milk supply. Protein powder shakes designed for breast feeding mothers can also help to make more milk.

If you notice that you seem to be producing less milk than usual, try feeding your baby more often to bring your milk supply back up. There are many other methods you can try to increase your milk supply – check out my post 11 Common breastfeeding problems here.

Hormone changes when your period returns

All women are different and individual hormonal levels can vary a lot between women. When your period returns after childbirth, the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase and then drop rapidly. Prolactin levels also decrease. Your milk supply may drop the week before your period starts and then rebound thereafter. 

To help reduce these fluctuations, you should consider taking a calcium supplement. This will help maintain the levels of calcium in your body which is important for producing milk.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself each day – focusing on self-care and relaxation can help to keep your hormones balanced.

Is spotting while breastfeeding normal?

Spotting while breastfeeding is common, and it’s usually a result of normal hormonal changes in your body. Often spotting soon after childbirth is a mixture of blood, mucus, and tissue from the lining of your uterus called lochia. Lochia starts as bright red bleeding, can be very heavy, and may contain blood clots. After a few days, the bleeding will slow down and turn pink or lighter in color.

Lochia and spotting can last for up to six weeks. If you choose not to breastfeed, you can typically expect menstruation to return within three months.

Your healthcare provider may ask you about your vaginal bleeding so it is worth noting down any changes. If you experience excessive bleeding with/without large clots, foul-smelling discharge, fever, pain or sore nipples talk to your doctor urgently.

Pregnancy before the return of periods

It is possible to get pregnant even before your first period comes back if you don’t use contraception. Even if it’s been more than six weeks since delivery, and you have not yet started menstruating, you can still become pregnant again. If you don’t plan on getting pregnant right away, make sure to talk to your doctor or family planning health care provider.

Frequent nursing is believed to inhibit the release of hormones that cause your body to begin the monthly preparations for a new pregnancy but if you really don’t want to fall pregnant it is strongly advised to use a barrier form of contraception during this time.


Have Questions? I Have Answers.

Breakthrough bleeding (also known as spotting) can occur for many reasons and is usually harmless. It is commonly due to hormonal changes, but it can also be an indication of a more serious underlying condition. If the bleeding persists or becomes heavy, you should contact your doctor.

Light spotting can be totally normal soon after birth. Heavy bleeding is known as postpartum hemorrhage and you should consult your doctor if you experience this.

Yes, it can be normal and is unlikely to be anything to worry about. However, if you are worried reach out to your healthcare provider for further advice.

While spotting while breastfeeding can be totally normal there are some other causes of spotting postpartum including urine infection (UTI), uterine inflammation, and retained products of pregnancy. If your bleeding is heavy and foul smelling or you feel unwell contact a doctor urgently.


Breastfeeding is a complex journey, and the unpredictability of your menstrual cycle can add to the challenges. However, with proper knowledge and support, you can manage the impact of periods on your breastfeeding journey.

Remember, every woman’s body is unique, and there are physiological differences that can affect your menstrual cycle and milk supply. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or a lactation specialist.

Final thoughts

Spotting during breastfeeding can be very normal and is usually lochia. Periods however may return a few weeks or even months later. Track your bleeding on a chart to gauge frequency, duration, and type and always remember to talk to your healthcare provider if you want any further advice or support.

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