Postpartum Hormone Shifts

When the placenta is delivered, estrogen levels drop. While breastfeeding, periods may not return for several months because the hormone that causes you to make milk, prolactin, also stops you from ovulating and having your period. Breastfeeding, though, can cause hormonal fluctuations that can some times catalyze additional hormonal imbalance symptoms. Breastfeeding mimics menopause due to the production of the milk-producing hormone, prolactin, temporarily blocking estrogen production, which keeps your estrogen levels low and prevents your period from occurring. Around 2-3 months postpartum, hormones begin to reset to pre-pregnancy levels. However, the stress hormone cortisol can increase, and in combination with lack of sleep, melatonin decreases (and, as a result, serotonin) and these hormone changes can negatively impact mood. For most, prolactin levels drop around 6 months postpartum as baby takes more solids and sleeps longer and periods may start again. These hormone shifts can have crazy symptoms. And if you’ve suffered from a hormone imbalance prior to pregnancy, there’s a good chance it’ll come back once this shift happens. Some times just understanding the hormone shift can help you cope. Some times you’ll need to be seen by a health care provider to figure out your exact imbalance to work on strategies, therapies, nutrition or medications to bring you back to balance.

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