Dear Lactation Consultant,
Hello. I have a small concern. Last week I had a longer lasting than normal period. Now this week, I still have all the physical aches and pains that go along with menstruation. I also noticed that I have a liquid that sure looks like colostrum leaking from both breasts. I weaned my son eight months ago. Do you know what could be causing this? Any help you could give me would be appreciated.
It's not unusual at all for mothers to leak or be able to express drops of milky or clear fluid (it looks a lot like colostrum) for months or even years after they stop nursing. This only becomes a concern if the breasts produce a large amount of milk for long periods of time. If the breasts stay engorged or lots of milk leaks out months after weaning, then there may be a problem and the mom should be checked out by a doctor.
I don't know how long you breastfed, or whether you weaned gradually or abruptly. I also don't know how long ago your periods started back. After nine months of pregnancy and months or years of nursing, women's bodies usually take a while to get back to your pre-pregnany state. It certainly doesn't happen overnight. Most women will have somewhat irregular menstrual cycles for months after their periods resume, and they may be heavier or lighter than usual, or you may even skip a period. Some women experience cyclical breast changes when they start menstruating again, and after weaning, these changes may include breast tenderness and discharge.
Chances are that nothing is wrong at all, and that your body is simply taking a few months to adjust to your non-pregnant, non-lactating state. If you continue to experience problems with irregular periods or excessive leaking or soreness, then I would have your doctor check it out. Otherwise, I would just give it some time, and things should settle back down to normal soon.
-- Anne, IBCLC
Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a health psychologist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Research Associate Professor of Psychology specializing in women's health at the Family Research Lab, University of New Hampshire. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in both the Divisions of Health Psychology and Trauma Psychology. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a La Leche League leader, chair of the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Taskforce, and the Area Coordinator of Leaders for La Leche League of Maine and New Hampshire.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett is author of more than 140 journal articles, book chapters and other publications, and author or editor of 15 books including The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood (2005, Hale Publications), Depression in New Mothers (2005, Haworth), and Breastfeeding Made Simple, co-authored with Nancy Mohrbacher (2005, New Harbinger). She is on the editorial boards of the journals Child Abuse and Neglect, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse and the Journal of Human Lactation, and regularly reviews for 27 other journals in the fields of trauma, women's health, interpersonal violence, depression, and child development. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is the "Ask a Lactation Consultant" columnist on Pregnancy.org and serves on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in psychology from California State University, Chico, and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University in social and developmental psychology. She has won several awards including the Outstanding Research Study Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and was named 2003 Distinguished Alumna, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California State University, Chico.