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breastfeeding - probably a tricky q!

(28 Posts)
Clarella Sat 19-Mar-16 18:54:39

I posted in health earlier but I'm starting to wonder about perimenopause.

But I'm not sure!

I'm 39. Periods returned about 15 months ago. I wasn't very well at the time with thyroid issues and they caused merry hell with aches and pains and were very heavy.

It's a lot better now but still heavy. Settled to between 26-23 days (always used to be 24).

It's just that I've noticed I'm very washed out and actually weak, achey, for a week- 12 days after my period. Then, after ovulation, I seem to improve and feel quite well.

Extra info - I was ill again in November with a chest infection that never went and I found out I have mild asthma (no allergies though). So, I've only been improving there for the last 6 weeks. So that was quite physically stressful. So it could have knocked 'things'.

However - I'm still bf my 3 year old. Possibly not an easy question but if I go to GP to ask for a test, potentially could this a) mess the test up, b) be causing peri symptoms, and c) scupper any chance of another pregnancy?

I'm not sure what to do! I didn't want to stop bf.

lljkk Sat 19-Mar-16 19:10:13

iron anaemia?

AuntieStella Sat 19-Mar-16 19:25:13

There isn't one test for perimenopause - they can do bloods to look at your hormone levels, but it's like an MOT as it only tells you what is happening that day. So you'd need a series of tests to establish the pattern, then someone who knows what they're talking about needs to interpret them.

I don't think BFing causes peri symptoms.

Yes, if you are perimenopausal, you chances of conceiving and carrying a normal pregnancy to term will be worsened. But until your periods dry up completely, it remains possible. They say 2 years amenhorrhea under 50.

PollyPerky Sat 19-Mar-16 19:49:24

Have you had your iron levels checked?

Does breast feeding mean your oestrogen levels might be lower? I know some women experience vaginal dryness when BF and it's been linked to low(er) oestrogen.

You could still be having cycles but you might not be ovulating for all of them. I never missed a period at all until I was almost 53 but they were coming lighter and shorter, so I'm sure I was not ovulating for a lot of the time.

It does sound though as if you are in need a really good rest and recuperation- might it be worth re-thinking BF as 3 years is a really long stint.

Clarella Sat 19-Mar-16 20:28:38

Thanks for your responses - iron anaemia was mentioned on health post. I'm due a ferritin test but it's never been very, very low, in fact I got it up to 130 last May. Then stopped the iron but it was 80 5 months later in Oct. so I'm getting another next week. I know 70 is 'normal' but women get much lower scores?

But wouldn't that be washed out all the time? Why just after period? Maybe my biology is wrong but I assume it's not really sudden blood loss at period as the lining builds up throughout the cycle?

Clarella Sat 19-Mar-16 20:32:00

Yes 3 years of bf is a big stint - it means so much to him though. We went through night weaning 6 months ago, and I've dropped the morning one. He's often not interested but can go through phases where it seems to really matter to him. I have t quite the heart to stop yet.

I guess quite a lot had been going on recently. I had some oral steroids too just before asthma diagnosis. Maybe things still settling.

Clarella Sat 19-Mar-16 20:34:24

Periods are heavier and if anything a tad longer sometimes. possibly seem to be settling a bit - last two not so hideous.

I never get any pain in tummy though. Just some back ache which is new.

PollyPerky Sat 19-Mar-16 22:18:09

But if your health is suffering from 3 years of BF maybe you need to put yourself first? You can't be a 'good' mum if you ar worn out, no matter what your son wants.

steppemum Sat 19-Mar-16 22:55:01

when I had very heavy periods, I was washed out the week after. The blood lost os fresh blood, so if you lose a lot over 2/3 very heavy days, that is like bleeding from a wound and yes, you do get very low blood levels/ iron etc and need to re-build.

Don't forget, your close cuddles and snuggles don't stop when you stop breastfeeding.

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 06:04:50

I don't know if my health is suffering from 3 years of bf.

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 06:13:36

Sorry posted too soon.

I know women who have been bf the same or longer and their health isn't suffering. I'm
Trying to work out what hormones are going on. Though I agree bf could be adding something into the mix. At the same time, it might be how my periods are post baby. Or my age. Searching mn I came across the start late, early menopause thing. Not sure if fact? At the same time, keeping weight on has always been an issue. Though my bum is pretty sizeable hmm I know body fat is a thing linking to hormones?

Asthma (mild) was unbeknown to me contributing to poor health!

Ok thanks, I didn't know that about iron etc. It very much could be that.

RapidlyOscillating Sun 20-Mar-16 06:35:11

70/ 7.0 isn't normal, that's the point at which you would strongly recommend transfusion, or above if you have symptoms! Are you and your 3 yr old taking a vitamin d supplement?

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 07:39:41

Sorry! Ferritin 70. That's normal for ferritin. Lowest was 50. And I know people go as low as 20 and nothing is done.

My hb was bizarrely a little over but I'm starting to wonder if I wasn't quite getting enough oxygen (my peak flow has definitely improved and I hadn't been noticing symptoms until they were gone iykwim). So I think my body thought I was living on Everest.

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 07:39:59

Yes to vit d

PollyPerky Sun 20-Mar-16 07:51:30

Iron- try a liquid supplement called Floridex- health shops.
See GP for blood tests
Ask for prem meno blood tests- see www.daisynetwork.org.uk for info on this and how to be tested.
At 3 years old your son is using BF for comfort- not food. Have you thought about stopping?

Hufflepuffin Sun 20-Mar-16 07:57:59

Go see the doc about periods, there are drugs they can give you if it's making you feel this way.

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 08:07:26

Thanks Polly. The thing is after reading around the subject scouring mn I'm not sure my periods are hugely unusual, just heavier than they were. I'm thinking they were freakishly light before. Actually, give or take a couple of days, they are regular. But reading around the ferritin, it could be an issue. Blood test next week, then see from there.

I suppose when I look at a cycle diagram, progesterone is what's around the second half of the cycle, and potentially (though I don't know, according to dr Google) could be surpressed by bf; at the same time I'm pretty sure I'm ovulating. But then again there isn't much progesterone the first half of your cycle anyway.

I think extended bf is a complicated unique dynamic that's hard to explain. I didn't get 'it' at all till I experienced it and observed it. He is naturally dropping.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Sun 20-Mar-16 08:08:07

I can answer question c for you.
Funny periods while breastfeeding does not stop conception
I conceived dd2 while breastfeeding dd1 - and tandem fed until dd1weaned at 4.5.
I carried on feeding dd2 (2.5yo) and am now pregnant with dc3 and still feeding. I'm also 42.
I don't think the breastfeeding should cause you to be so ill. Even if it was for a long time . lack of sleep due to night feeding can lower the immune system though (glares at night weaning immune dd2) but you have night weaned.
I also know someone who continued feeding through the (early) menopause with no problems

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 08:31:16

Thanks susan. I was about to start asking in my local bf group. But as you say, I know so many who are bfing and tandem feeding and older, I can't see it's necessarily the big answer. (Wow, super mama!)

Stress could be a factor - I was exceptionally poorly/ stressed/ exhausted/ not sleeping from end of Nov till I started the steroid inhaler about 6 weeks ago. Had been waking at night though for a long time and now wondering if lungs were a factor there.

But thank you for all your advice ladies, I think I have a plan of action.

I'm thinking of trying extra b6 and vit e too. (I take berrocca and a calcium / magnesium tablet). Any advice?

Clarella Sun 20-Mar-16 08:31:49

I will look at iron after test.

Toria2014 Sun 20-Mar-16 08:39:55

I don't have any advice perse, but just wanted to say I am still breast feeding my 20 month old and I am pretty sure I am in perimenopause as well.

I went to see a medical herbalist about my symptoms which were anxiety mostly and I feel much better.

Sounds like you are on the right track with the ferritin etc. I think BF can make me quite tired at times but not to a debilitating level thankfully.

meditrina Sun 20-Mar-16 08:43:43

I BF for a couple of years per DC, and many friends for longer.

No, it doesn't cause the symptoms you list, especially as you are down to one feed a day.

Go and see your GP, and list your symptoms: tiredness, possible change in menses and backache are slightly non-specific, but still worth investigation.

Choceclair123 Sun 27-Mar-16 02:55:52

I don't think extended bf would be the cause of how you're feeling health wise at the moment. It doesn't sound as though your DS will be taking much from you so can't see him being a drain on you.

clarella Sun 27-Mar-16 08:38:04

Thank you for your responses. I think I'm starting to think iron anaemia too. I didn't really pick up this month and I've noticed my gums looking pale again ( no idea if a sign but I did notice that last time ferritin started dropping, and reverse when up)

Periods have been heavier than they were, I'm not sure as heavy as some experience.

I get blood results next week.

Back issues are I think linked to some ongoing pelvic stuff/ spd / hypermobile which I do think is improving though sometimes affected by cycle; I think it was worsened by asthma / chest infection simply as I had to sleep upright for 3 months! Though didn't sleep! So much better since I started inhalers.

clarella Tue 29-Mar-16 16:00:35

Ferritin has dropped from 130 last May to 50. It was 50 last time I started experiencing weakness and some back issues. GP has said it's borderline and ringing tomorrow to discuss, but I have already recognised symptoms (including mildly itchy bones) and started iron.

I'm just blush I'm a woos at finding it tough at 50 as I know others get to single figures!

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