I am so glad I have found mothering.com as I have an experience of 6.5 years of nursing of my beloved LO and now I am finding myself with all those questions of what NOW and nobody to ask. First of all I am extatic that we have managed to do it for so long. I see so many benefits of it and it was totally natural thing to do and then it was totally natural thing to stop. We have had a great time considering it was all on the assumption that I will be happy if I will manage to nurse my LO for the Whole! three months when she was just borned.
Now few months after we stopped my body have started behaving weird to say least, and since I am 45 now I could attribute many things to peri or menopause, however I believe that there is such a thing like hormonal adjustement, horomnal leveling.. you name it.. I just throw what comes to my mind.. afer a childs stops nursing then one could easily confuse those symptoms with something else. Therefore my reluctance to head to medical doctor at this point who most likely does not deal with a body that was nursing for 6.5 years straight and then stopped and what comes after.. I believe that experiences of this foum can give me better picture of what might be happening then anyone else. Please do share..
Having said that..
After nursing for 6.5 years straight, my child gradually slowed down to few sessions a week, then month, then stopped eventually. I am now 45 years old and it is 8 months later..
What has happened:
* at first nothing happened, my body went on with usual business, period normal as scheaduled, nothing unusual.
* then I noticed that my breast are not getting any smaller in any way, they did not feel that they are having any letdowns or anything but they were kind of big as usually and I hoped they will get smaller once we stop nursing
* then after few months I gained 5 lbs.. and no matter what I did or do I can't shed a pound.. just nothing comes off. NOTHING. LIke some strike
* then 6 months after I was still getting my period as usual, and the next period after that came..!!!... 12 days after the first period ended! What I have noticed right before this weird oncoming period was that the breast felt tender, and full like in the old days pre-pregnancy when they always did it.. Also it felt almost like I had occassional letdown like my milk ducts were filling with milk during the period itself.. Bleeding was weird.. it started with spotting of brownish discharge (sorry for the details)then turned to thick dark brown blood with small clots in it and then turned to the red normal blood and then it went on for a week like normal period bleeding.
* the bleeding stopped and after 14 days here we go again.. the same symptoms as above.. started with spotting and now I am into beginning of bleeding..
I am not sure if this might be some affect of overbuildup of hormons? is it my body who went crazy on me? Was my body trying to store fat and hormons for eventual come back of the nursling? Are the frequent periods body's attempt to shed off hormons when it realized that we are not nursing anymore?
I have so many questions..
I would so appreciate if you could share your experiences. I am assuming that to truly compare notes the best is the experience of someone who nursed for good few years and is into possible premenopausal years. Oh one more thing that buffles me.. my sister and my mom did not get any premenopausal symptoms anywhere near this age so my guess woudl be that it is possibly not peri but rather hormonal adjustement.. but now..what next? what are possibilities if it is not that..
I am not on a quest to get my regular periods back as I do not plan or more children, I rather would like to have some picture of what is possibly happening with me. Does it look like something you went through and how did it go?
Thank you so much for your reply. I hope this will benefit not only me but others as well.
Did your sister and your mom nurse for the length of time you did and close to your age? If not then it's hard to compare their experiences to yous since you are close to menopause. It could be nothing at all but your body readjusting to not breastfeeding and the shift of hormones, accompanied with approaching menopause.
And the weight loss - well, it gets more difficult as you get older. It seems like you have to work twice as hard at dieting and exercising to shed those pounds.
i'll share, although i'm not in quite the same spot as you. i was interested in reading your experiences.
i'm 44, have been nursing for 6+ years. still nursing. my son is almost 3 and my daughter is 6. i nurse both, although the son is still a pretty heavy nurser and the daughter is just a cursory nurse before bed. like a comfort routine.
everything was going fine and normal as of last fall, i was 43 and had weighed about 180+ for a few years.
i went on a diet.
i lost almost 47 pounds in six months, mostly by restricting eating (low sodium turkey, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, coffee, green tea, beans, my staples). and by stopping eating at 5 pm.
i got down to 139.
and lost my period. for a full month. it was a full month late.
i stupidly asked a doctor's opinion. she ordered FSH levels and LH levels checked, and concluded that i was in "menopause."
my first missed period, mind you. and suddenly, i'm in menopause.
i was worried because, after all, this is a doctor's diagnosis.
but i went to a gynocologist for follow up and he basically laughed, said that was inaccurate, that you don't just miss one period and go into menopause. that there are symptoms that last for YEARS. up to 9 years or more.
from my learning during this whole process: heavier, more frequent periods are typical of perimenopause.
so it COULD be that.
but i'm gonna guess that you and i both have experienced some hormone fluctuations. me with the extended tandem nursing + weight loss, and you with the extended nursing + stopping.
my neighbor nursed her son for three years and is our age, and when she stopped, she said her period, which had been light while nursing, came roaring back.
as for me, i was SCARED to be in early menopause, and willing to do anything to turn back the clock, so i ate to gain weight back. gained back about 10 pounds, and got my period ROARING back too.
i doubt you will get too many replies to this question, although i think it's a good one. each reply will be valuable, and if you'd like to keep the thread alive with periodic (no pun intended) updates, i will keep you updated on my situation as well.
i'm gonna guess and say you're fine. you are like me, had a baby in your late 30s. that alone bodes well for having good health. mother didn't get menopause until much later than the mid-40s. (mine was all of mid-50s). you should not be going into menopause already.
BUT you are likely in perimenopause, which is totally normal in the mid-40s. and, as the gyno told me, can last 9 YEARS or more. that would take you to the mid-50s as a menopause point. menopause is the complete cessation of all menstrual periods for one full year. you obviously aren't there yet. LOL.
hope that helps!
I occasionally come onto the forums and see that you posted in August but I read through your post and felt that I wanted to offer a bit of my experience.
Congratulations on nursing until 6.5. We are still nursing at 5.25 and no end in sight yet ;) But she says "when I'm six." So we'll see.
First I was wondering if you've had any improvement in your symptoms? Sometimes hormonal imbalances get "back in check" on their own, more or less, after a few months.
I would first and foremost recommend that you have a full physical if you haven't in the past 6 mos to a year. Second but equally important IMO is that you see an experienced naturopathic ob/gyn or midwife who can evaluate all of your changes and order a female hormone panel test via saliva. This is a test that takes about a month to do at home. You get the kit and then, following some easy instructions you spit a small amount in a separate, tiny tube every certain amount of days during the month (there is a chart to tell you when). You then cap and freeze each sample until they are all collected, put them in a small box, and it is shipped to a lab. Your insurance may or may not cover it but it is well worth the $200-$300 even if it doesn't.
The test will evaluate all relevant hormones and their relationship with each other, and a qualified doctor can suggest gentle methods to try to bring your hormones back into the ranges they should be. An ideal doctor IMO is one who is open to "natural" or herbal methods but also open to the possibility of hormone supplementation if it seems necessary.
I had begun to experience some erratic cycle issues similar to your description (a few days late, then next cycle starting after one week, sometimes after two weeks of last cycle ending). Also heavier periods, etc. when my then 3 yo went from nursing a few times a day to just once or twice a day, more like "comfort nursing" and a distinct drop in my milk production occurred b/c there was no demand for much milk.
This was helped for me by two things: I began a treatment with chaste tree berry, or Vitex (an herbal remedy used forever for gently regulating womens' cycles) which I took for about 3 months if I remember correctly, and an extremely low dosage of DHEA, which the panel test had detected I was producing too low a level for at my age (37 at the time). I am 39 now and my periods are pretty much back to normal. I have had some where it comes a few days late or early, but nothing too extreme.
it is amazing how one tiny thing out of whack can have such a noticeable impact on our cycles. I hope I do not come off as trying to diagnose your problems as I understand that a myriad of problems can cause disturbances. I just wanted to let you know what worked for me. 45 is too young (although not unheard of) for menopause but not too young for perimenopause symptoms, which can be managed properly with the right care.
Also there is a lot of power of in a healthy, low-fat, high fruit & veggie diet combined with daily exercise (even a 1/2 hour walk will do). Maybe you do this already but I thought it worth mentioning.
I hope your health improves and that you are able to fully enjoy your post-nursing years with your child!
Loving wife and SAHM to our nursing 5 YO ~ We''ve started our home school adventure!
Im 45 and currently nursing a 10mth old, so far i have no cycles to worry about. I learned a couple of things in my 14mths of ttc (trying to conceive) about that cycle though. I dont know if it applies to you.
Firstly, are you aware if you are ovulating? If you are not actually ovulating, then your periods arent real periods, but caused by a build up of estrogen, and then a sudden plunge. That can cause bleeding to occur at irregular intervals. I found when nursing previously (my 7yo and 4yo, both who self weaned at 4 and above), that i would have a ewcm build up (egg white cervical mucus that precedes ovulation in mid cycle) , and then gradually some false bleeding, and then finally ovulation and a real period, but a short luteal phase. (the phase between ovulation and your period) My understanding is that while breastfeeding, estrogen builds up, leading to ovulation, but progesterone can continue to be too low to maintain a normal luteal phase. (from the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility ) Sometimes it builds up, but not enough for ovulation, then it goes down again, and you get red and brown blood in your bleeding, as some of it is old blood (not a true period)
If you are older, it may take your body longer to establish normal cycles at all, or you may not have been ovulating regularly, even if your cycles appeared regular.
On the other hand, given the gradual weaning process, you most likely were cycling normally. I found that scarce nursing at age 4 with ds1 (who self weaned at 5), had no impact on my cycle at all. Later at 42/43 nursing my 3-4 yo, did not prevent ovulation, but my luteal phase remained short for many months. Eventually my cycle returned to normal, he was nursing a few times a day. Night nursing has the biggest impact on your cycle.
Every woman is different, and i was younger in both cases than 45. (45 now)
Is it perimenopausal? Perimenopause can last for many years, it does not mean menopause is around the corner. I read somewhere on this forum of an older woman nursing, and apparently it made her experience of menopause much less unpleasant/balanced than for many other woman.
Anyway, i dont know if any of this is helpful at all. It could be that the nursing has nothing to do with it, and your cycles are just going a little wacky due to your age. It definitely sounds like an estrogen/progesterone imbalance. I am not sure about the weight gain thing, but im pretty sure that is an estrogen dominance thing, as is the false period. This is a typical perimenopausal symptom. I second vitex for the regulation of cycles. Many women ttc use it to lengthen their luteal phase and re establish a normal cycle generally whilst nursing.
I second what the post above me about seeing a naturapath.
Yes PP you are right - weight gain, breast soreness, erratic periods along with a host of other problems are all symptoms of overproduction of estrogen. Not to say there couldn't be multiple reasons for the OPs symptoms. In essence, restoring balance to the hormone(s) that are under or over-producing will bring the estrogen/progesterone levels more into synch.
I am such a huge fan of the hormone panel testing! It's a bit of a commitment for the month but to find out exactly which hormones are having trouble is so worth it. I don't know how it compares to hormonal blood work -- I've never had that or even researched it at all but that may be another option. Maybe less arduous than the saliva test but each may have its pros and cons in terms of accuracy and limits to get the big picture.
Loving wife and SAHM to our nursing 5 YO ~ We''ve started our home school adventure!