You are here:

Postnatal Period Delay

Why haven't my periods started again?

Question

I'm worried because I have not had a period since I got pregnant with my daughter in January 2003. I had a caesarean and breast-fed her until she was l2 months, Now she has a small feed at night. I know breast-feeding can stop you having a period but other mothers giving night feeds have told me that theirs have started again. Is there something wrong with me and, if so, what can I do about it?

Answer

Nature doesn't want a woman to get pregnant when she is breast-feeding, because it is a perfect way to ensure that every baby has its quota of nursing and care. The chances of getting pregnant while breast-feeding full-time and. on demand are very low (though not impossible), so it's also used as a method of contraception in some developing countries.

If you give your baby only breast milk for the first six months then any period is likely to be "anovulatory", i.e., no egg is released from the ovaries, which means you can't become pregnant. When you breast-feed, the pituitary gland produces the hormone prolactin, which stimulates milk production and suppresses ovulation. After six months, when solids are introduced and the baby suckles less intensely, breast milk production automatically decreases, and the possibility of ovulation increases.

Since you are giving your baby only one small feed a night, I suspect something is amiss. Periods are the result of three interdependent and perfectly orchestrated cycles - pituitary, ovarian and uterine. The first takes place in the pituitary hypothalamic area in the brain, which is the headquarters of the autonomous or involuntary nervous system and also of hormones. Both the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland release different reproductive hormones in different amounts at various stages of the cycle, depending on the degree of stimulation.

The hypothalamus releases gonadotropin - releasing hormone (GnRH), which triggers the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone ( LH). In the second cycle, the FSH stimulates the ovarian follicles: one matures and develops an egg. When this happens, the ovary produces oestrogen, which kick-starts the third cycle, in which the inner lining of the womb (endometrium) begins to thicken with a lining of blood. This happens over the first l4 days of the cycle.

Around the 13th day, there is an increase of GnRH, and LH begins to be produced at a phenomenal rate. This causes the egg to be released from the follicle into the fallopian tubes and then the womb. Meanwhile, the empty follicle starts producing progesterone to prepare the endometrium to receive a fertilised egg. If the egg isn't fertilised, the progesterone supply falls and the endometrium is cut off from hormonal support, causing it to wither and be eliminated as a period. Because a suckling baby prompts a lower level of GnRH to be released, prolactin instead of' FSH or LH is secreted and no period takes place.

To get your cycle back on track, I suggest the following:

    Diet

  • Eat a high-protein diet including fish, eggs, chicken, game and organic liver. You may be slightly anaemic, which can cause scanty or no periods. Ask your doctor to check your levels of blood iron and suggest a suitable supplement. I prefer Higher Nature True Food Easy Iron as well as a low-acid vitamin C supplement such as Lamberts Ester-C.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits and yeast products, which impair the digestion and body functions generally.
  • Supplements to help regulate hormones:

  • Alive Women's Hormone Support : take one twice, daily.
  • Don Quai: take one daily for four months. This contains phytoestrogens.
  • Mexican Yam: take one twice daily from the l5th day of the calendar month until the end, to regulate progesterone production.
  • Homoeopathy

  • Take pulsatilla 30 potency : two three times daily for three days before the end of the calendar month.
  • Neck and Shoulder Massage

  • Rub and stroke the sides of your neck, shoulders and the back of your skull, to help the blood flow to the brain. This improves the ability of the pituitary and hypothalamus area to stimulate hormone production. Details of the massage technique are on my Lifestyle DVD (Integrated Health Group).
  • Yoga

  • Practise Iyengar yoga (to find a qualified local teacher, visit www.iyenaryoga.org.uk); in particular, the cobra, swing, neck roll, half-bridge, and turtle postures.
Home
Website by DataShire