Thursday, July 8, 2010

Breastfeeding and Fertility Thoughts 1

Life with Peter requires a lot of hands on and not so much time for the computer. I have been working on this post for two weeks now. :-)

"However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual." 1 Cor. 15:46

Breastfeeding and fertility, mothering styles and babies. Those are the thoughts that have been clouding my mind lately. The delicate balance of all breastfeeding, mothering, and fertility and how the three things work together and by various methods of breastfeeding and mothering you alter your fertility. Crash course learning going on right here in my home. My friend Whitney just did a few posts 1-3 on things you may not know about breastfeeding. Very interesting. She also went over briefly the difference between ecological and on demand breastfeeding. There is a book called Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood; God's Plan for You and Your Baby by Sheila Kippley and it briefly goes over the 7 standards of ecological breastfeeding. The rest of the book is dedicated to your spiritual decision to breastfeed as well as your emotional and physical health decision. Super positive book and I really want to get her book The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding; the Frequency Factor.

It was to my horror that a couple weeks ago I woke up to find my period had returned or what I thought was my period. I literally cried. Lord knows it's not the most tragic thing to happen to a woman and in this culture it happens pretty frequently around 12 to 18 weeks post partum. "But I breastfeed!" was my defensive, angry thought! This shouldn't be happening. As the frustrated part of my brain was angrily complaining, the rational voice in my head was speaking a voice of reason. I had heard that breastfeeding and extended amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycle in a average woman of reproductive age) was a delicate balance of frequency of nursing and mothering methods. I just wanted to have both freedom and amenorrhea. Kind of selfish. However, there is such a thing as false periods where your body bleeds monthly or as a normal cycle but there is no ovulation. This appears to be what I am experiencing. I am curious to know how many other moms experience anovulatory bleeding? I am sure that many new moms (and older ones) experience it but believe that they are in fact having a normal cycle in which they ovulate. For me, not the case.

Here are the 7 standards of Ecological Breastfeeding:

1. Do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.
2. Pacify your baby at your breasts.
3. Don't use bottles or pacifers.
4. Sleep with your baby with night feedings.
5. Sleep with your baby for a daily nap-feeding.
6. Nurse frequently day and night and avoid schedules.
7. Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.

So if you would like on average 18-30 months between children the above should work for you. THIS IS NOT EASY. So the sympto thermal method is also an option for catholic couples. I continue to temp as well as go off of other fertility signs, since I am experiencing anovulatory bleeding but it is nice to get a base line in for what my body naturally does without ovulating. Especially since I didn't have much time to establish that before we became pregnant with Peter. As well as using the sympto-thermal method, I am also definitely giving the 7 standards a shot.

It's so hard though especially since it is such a demand on you.Many people say that they are ecologically breastfeeding because they believe that it's the only "right" way to breastfeed. This is simply not true, there is nothing better about ecologically breastfeeding or on demand feeding, it's whatever works best for you and your baby and your lifestyle. I personally do not mind being a milk bar 24/7. In fact I love it. However, I realize that as time goes on and I do have other children I am not sure that ecologically breastfeeding will be practical or even desirable as it takes up soooo much time. Time that I might need to be devoting to my other children rather then lounging around all day letting my little one suckle because...well just because! :-) I love taking Peter with me. What I feel like is the hardest thing is explaining to family members that I'm not ready to leave Peter. Peter isn't ready to leave me and that includes just being babysat for several hours or going out on a date. It's hard for family to accept and understand that this is the way I choose to mother and that it effects them as well. It's sad that in this culture to be a "good" aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa you have to babysit and that to be a "good" mom you have to leave your baby with family members so they get there time. Babies thrive on the care of one individual for the first three years of their lives! It's crucial to their development and only God knows the long term benefits of such a close attachment.

"I carried you for nine months in my womb and nursed you for three years" 2 Macc. 7:27

Beautiful! I am sometimes asked how long I plan on letting Peter nurse. I think some people think that babies will naturally wean themselves. In fact, moms tell me this all the time. While this is true to some extent most of the time they are unconsciously encouraging early weaning.
Hopefully i can continue this later


  1. i hope you do continue this, because it is a really good post! i love ecological breastfeeding, but i can't see how we'd manage without a pacifier. he *only* takes it when i detach him from the breast and move him to his mattress, but if i never did, he'd nurse during his entire nap, 2 hours at a time. i also use it in the car, when he is crying and crying, because i hate seeing him so upset. as for leaving him, i know we've talked about before, but yeah, i've never felt comfortable leaving him very long. but i don't feel swamped or like i need "me" time, or that it is a pain to have him with me all the time - i love going places with him. it's so fun! john loves it too. he would prefer river to go out with us on a date than leave him somewhere. i truly believe that is how god intended it to be.

    and about the anovulatory bleeding... i first bled when river was 5 months old. it freaked me out. then i went three months without a period, and then a month later. it's been two months since the last time. i've gotten used to it, ha.

  2. How refreshing to read your thoughts on all of this! I didn't even realize that quote from 2 Maccabees was there!

  3. Yes, the difference between exclusive and/or "on demand" breastfeeding as opposed to ecological breastfeeding is pretty huge. I've known lots of mommas who do the former, not too many who do the latter. With more than one little, ecological breastfeeding is logistically all but an impossibility - afterall, you have the older nursling still needing that momma time ;-) Fortunately, having two nurslings seems to have the same effect as nursing one ecologically ;-)

    I also hear people say that their baby 'self-weaned.' Huh??? My first baby told me "milk is yucky" when I was pregnant with her sister. Apparently not so yucky that she would need to give it up =0! In my experience, natural weaning occurs between 4 and 6 years. For me, the third year was the hardest nursing wise - they seem to go through a period of wanting to nurse seemingly all the time while I'm ready for them to quit;-)

  4. Oh, I had reg. annovulatory cycles for 10 months, 11 months and 11 months after babies 1, 2 and 3.....