The Pre-Menstrual Dip in Milk Supply
With the early return of menstruation, mothers often see a noticeable dip in their milk supply during the week or two before menstruation. The taste of the milk often changes as well, and this can be off-putting to some sensitive babies.
After the return of menstruation, some mothers resume their monthly rhythm. But for some, the periods will be sporadic and only slowly become monthly.
The Causes of an Early Return of Menstruation
I like to compare today’s women to how we were for three hundred thousand years before we could eat a western-style packaged and refined foods diet. On our original, unrefined diet, breastfeeding mothers easily remained free of ovulation and menstruation for more than a year. But today, due to a condition called “insulin resistance” which develops in response to our western diet, we not only see increasing numbers of true milk supply problems but we also see an earlier return of ovulation and menstruation.
Another cause of early menstruation however is if a mother does not exclusively breastfeed. It is the constant production of milk that signals the brain to keep menstruation at bay. When mothers partially breastfeed, the brain assumes you are weaning and the cycles of fertility begin. For more about this, see my article on the Dance of the Postpartum Hormones.
Pre-Menstrual Supply-Dip, a Red Flag for Milk Supply Problems
The early return of menses, because it is associated with insulin resistance, is a red flag and a sign that the milk supply is at risk to become unreliable (up and down from day to day and morning to night).
In this case, a true lactogenic diet in combination with well-chosen herbs and spices is essential to ensure the optimal longterm outcome of steady and sufficient milk production.
Mineral Supplements prevent the Pre-Menstrual Dip
To prevent the dip in milk supply, you can take extra calcium and magnesium at a ration of 2:1 when you begin feeling hormonal or at ovulation (two weeks before the next expected period.)
Mothers whose diets are calcium-depleting (drinking caffeine, soft drinks, consuming a lot of sugar, refined carbs, or meat) should take 1000 mg of calcium a day, together with 500 mg of magnesium.
Larger body sizes may need more, and mothers on very healthy diets may need only half this amount.
You can use supplements that you may already have, or try one like the supplement linked just below. Here, four capsules equal a full dose. You can spread the dose throughout the day with one capsule taken before meals.
The Lactogenic Diet
Because early return of menstruation is a sign of insulin resistance (see this article), making changes to your diet can not only help normalize your milk supply but also begin to normalize your blood sugar levels.
This is a big topic. To learn more about it I recommend taking one of the classes which are generally listed here. You can also read my book Mother Food.
A Galactagogue for Menstrual Cramps
By the way, if you tend to have menstrual cramps, the delicate herbal tea, Vervain officinalis, is milk-boosting and especially cramp-soothing.
2 – 3 cups a day. (Be sure to get Vervain officinalis, or Verbena Officinalis, and not Blue Vervain or other variety.)