TMI: How long did it take to get your period back after nursing?

This is a blog post my dad and Nick’s coworkers can skip over. I’m gonna talk about fertility, menstrual cycles, intermittent fasting and nursing. Fun stuff that guys really wanna know about. On to the over sharing…

I nursed Tommy for 18 months. I got my period two weeks after I stopped. I was not intermittent fasting. I was in shape doing I think the Kayla Itsines BBG workouts and running like 3 miles a few times a week. I was 33 years old.

With Connor, I stopped nursing after about 13.5 months at 35 years old. I was actively practicing intermittent fasting using a 15:9 schedule as a FASTer Way coach. I workout 5 times a week for like 30-45 minutes a day following the FASTer Way membership workouts so similar but more lifting and less cardio.

I assumed I would get my period after 2 weeks went by after our last nursing session but I did not. I waited a month and still no flow. Was it the intermittent fasting? Was it just that things are different after your second like the intensity of uterus contractions? Was it age? Or was I just impatient and crazy.

I did pump a little bit after I stopped nursing Connor for my own comfort but not very much. I’d say after 10 or so days I no longer needed to and had officially “dried up.” I don’t remember doing this with Tommy but I had weaned him to just mornings by the time I was over it.

Like any good millenial, I crowd sourced how long it took people to get back their periods after they stopped nursing, if it hadn’t already returned. I wanted it after Tommy so I could get pregnant again. This time around, I’m not eager to get pregnant for a third time but if we choose to go that route, I’d like to be able to at least try to plan it since we currently live in a two bedroom condo in the city. My parents think we are crazy for even thinking about a third kid but as a third child myself, I’ve just always wanted 3 children.

Anyway, let’s chat about intermittent fasting real quick…

So while I did stop nursing 3.5 months sooner my second go round, intermittent fasting was the only other variable that I thought could be the reason I STILL hadn’t gotten my period after 4 weeks. A few people responded to my crowd sourcing on Instagram and said it just took longer after their second child. Others said IF made their cycle unpredictable.

Some of my clients shared that they had been told by their doctors to try intermittent fasting for help in regulating their cycles so that they COULD get pregnant! This was surprising to me as my own research indicated that IF could cause your period to be less than regular.

When you practice IF properly, it might regulate blood glucose, control blood lipids, reduce the risk of coronary disease, manage body weight, help us gain (or maintain) lean mass, reduce the risk of cancer, and more but it can also can cause lost menstrual periods.

It turns out that the hormones regulating key functions like ovulation are incredibly sensitive to your energy intake. If you’re interested in the science behind this, you can check it out here.

Bottom line, I was not crazy for thinking it could be the reason I had yet to have my menstrual cycle return.

So, I started eating breakfast and reduced my fasting window to 12 hours. Almost exactly one week later and 5.5 weeks after I stopped nursing, my period returned. I didn’t experience PMS-like symptoms except for a small breakout consisting of a zit or two. I had minimal cramps and it overall wasn’t bad at all lasting barely 4 days.

I remember when I finally got it back after Tommy, it seemed like it was heavier and longer than I remembered but this time, it was similar to what I experienced while on the pill. Could the IF be contributed to that I wondered?

Take aways:

Everyone is different. My cycle pre kids had always been fairly predictable. My cycle may have returned even if I did not shorten my fasting window. I will never know officially but for journaling my own experience, it took 5.5 weeks.

Looking back at the dates, it probably took about 3 weeks after I officially stopped lactating so the difference is really just a week or two which feels totally normal to me. I now realize I may have been stressed about something unnecessary but had I not incorporated breakfast would I still be waiting? Again, I won’t be able to know officially. There aren’t a lot of studies on women who are pregnant, nursing or trying to get pregnant for obvious reasons as no one wants to put a baby at risk.

This article that I linked above mentions that a lot of the negatives associated with IF in research are correlated to lower calories consumption.

“Intermittent fasting alone shouldn’t cause amenorrhea (aka stopping of a woman’s period),” says holistic health coach Erin Wathen. “Intermittent fasting isn’t supposed to be about going super low calorie where a woman’s period would stop, but [rather] reducing the individual’s eating window.” In other words, if you’re being careful to follow an intermittent fasting plan to focus on your health, not on restriction, then your period shouldn’t be affected. “Intermittent fasting is intended to give our bodies and mind a break from always eating, not as a means of extreme weight loss,” Wathen tells Elite Daily.

https://www.elitedaily.com/p/does-intermittent-fasting-affect-your-period-heres-what-experts-want-you-to-know-13099326

If you are a member of the FWTFL community, I honestly do not think IF has a negative effect on nursing or fertility because it’s not a low calorie diet. If anything, combining IF with macro counting makes sure you DO eat enough.

Here is one first hand account from someone who used IF to regulate her cycle as well.

I share my experience because after I stopped nursing Tommy, I was scared it would take 6 months to get my period again. Even though I knew better, I was still nervous second time around.

If IF effected your cycle, good or bad, I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments!

Also, I will be starting my next FWTFL round October 28th! Don’t worry, the first week is prep week so if you really want to eat all the halloween candy, you can, I’ll just ask that you eat it between noon and 8 pm haha!

TMI: How long did it take to get your period back after nursing?

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6 Comments

  • Allie B
    Reply

    This is such an interesting blog post -- I remember reading about intermittent fasting being bad for hormones and cycles several months ago. But I see so women on instagram/bloggers doing it, so I’ve considered it postpartum. Do you think you’ll go back to IF now that you’ve regained your period? I’m interested in joining your next round of FWTFL -- I’ll be 4 months postpartum by then, but still breastfeeding.

    • Sarah
      Reply

      I’m pretty vocal that we want #3 and so I’ve increased my window to be a 12:12/14:10 split. If we did not want 3, I would probably go back to a 16:8 split but I just want to have cycle as predictable as possible for our own planning purposes.

  • Sarah
    Reply

    Hi! I tried IF for the first time last spring and stuck with it for ~2-3 months. My youngest child is 3 so it’s been about 2 years since I last nursed and since then my cycles have been super regular. I teach fitness and workout 6x/week for about 45mins-1 hrs. I eat A LOT! I’ve always eaten breakfast and been super hungry when I wake up. IF was hard for me and a little stressful; I did feel like I leaned out so it was tempting to stick with it but what really led me to stop was my cycles almost stopped and were SO irregular. I also randomly had my first ever ovarian cyst during that time (could be unrelated). As soon as I started eating breakfast again and back to my normal “routine,” my cycles went back to normal. I had also read somewhere that IF can interrupt cycles and so did some digging and decided, from my research and personal experience, it wasn’t a positive healthy habit for me. I feel more stable and relaxed when eating when I’m hungry, if that makes sense. Thanks for posting this! I respect the FWTFL approach but do not think the IF component Is for everyone.

    • Sarah
      Reply

      I totally agree that it is not for everyone. I’ve been feeling a little jittery in the morning actually. I think I’m drinking too much coffee HOWEVER, I am so happy you shared your experience. I’m hoping someone stumbled upon my post and realizes that eating breakfast may be a simple solution if they are trying to get back a regular cycle.

  • Danielle
    Reply

    Thank you for blogging about this. No one ever told me that you might not (probably won’t?) get your period back until you finish nursing. Why don’t people talk about that? I thought something was wrong with me lol

    • Sarah
      Reply

      Oh really??? Everyone is different. It’s nature’s way of birth control. I’m not positive on the specifics but nursing generally causes amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle). It’s your bodies way of putting off another baby since you have a small baby. Somehow our bodies get that 2 under 2 is a lot! Some people get theirs right away nursing and all, others it takes a while, and some like me, need to 100% stop lactating to get their back. This is where the whole myth of breastfeeding is a form of birth control. For me it is! But for most people it is not!!!

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