Crunchy= natural, green, environmental, granola.
Cradle= birth, baby, breastfeeding, pregnancy.
Catholic= One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church

Monday, April 4, 2011

Breastfeeding and Fertility

Well, I heard it again.  "I got pregnant while breastfeeding.  That was a lie, that breastfeeding keeps you from getting pregnant."

I know that I have written about this before, but many women still don't understand how breastfeeding and fertility work.  Dr. Sears put together some great tips:
as does La Leche League:

The thing that is not mentioned in the above articles and where, I think, women who get pregnant while breastfeeding, run into problems, is they cannot meet all the criteria listed.  Many women are working, or pumping and cannot follow the exact "rules" for Lactational Amenorrhea.

Where things can get really tricky, is that we usually ovulate before we get a period, especially when breastfeeding has been interrupted, by a mother who works and is pumping, introducing solid foods, baby nursing less often, etc.

For women, who like me, have to work and pump breastmilk for our babies, can we rely on breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy? Or what about women whose babies are more than 6 months old, but still breastfeeding and cycles have not returned yet?

I have been using NFP (Natural Family Planning) and breastfeeding to space my babies for the last 7 years, so it has become second nature for me.  But, if you are not familiar with NFP or FAM (Fertility Awareness Method), you may not be observing for signs of returning fertility while breastfeeding.  I think that is the answer and the key to breastfeeding and preventing pregnancy, to be watching for your body's signs that ovulation or fertility is returning.  This link describes the signals that our body gives us before ovulation.
I have had 4 babies, and with each of them, I observed a definite change in cervical mucus before my cycles and fertility returned.

So, yes, breastfeeding can prevent pregnancy, but like many things in life, you must read the "fine print".  There are rules to follow and if you cannot meet the criteria, you can start observing natures signals and signs of fertility.  The bonus to learning NFP or FAM is that when you do wish to get pregnant again, you will know exactly when you are fertile.

Every Birth is Different

I have recently been to a couple births with second time moms.  Neither of them had the experience they were expecting the first time around.  Although, I dare to say that not many of us know exactly how our birth will be ahead of time.  In preparing for their next birth, both of these women prepared to have a repeat of their first birth.

I did this same thing when I was pregnant for the second time.  My first labor was fast and furious.  With my second baby, I prepared myself to have a repeat experience.  My second son, however, taught me that he had his own unique personality and was not going to be like my first son.  Labor is a dance between mother and baby.  I believe that I have seen a glimmer of each of my baby's personalities during his/her labor.  My second labor was twice as long as my first.

When I was pregnant for the third time, I let go of all expectations.  I know that my labor could bring anything, and I prepared myself to welcome whatever it might bring.  My third and fourth labors were each unique, and I tried to approach them the same way I did my first, without any preconceptions, and open to whatever my body and baby needed in order to birth safely.

Now, I do think that women who have had many interventions during their labors, might prepare for a second baby, by learning what a normal, natural birth usually looks like, and learning when those interventions are truly necessary.

If you are preparing for birth, welcome it with open arms, just as you welcome your baby's unique personality with open arms.

New Series of Childbirth Classes

I am starting up a new series of childbirth classes and a breastfeeding class.  Details on my website!

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