#31 Jean: (six weeks, four months, seven months, fourteen months)
#1) six weeks (breastfeeding stopped at two weeks old)
#2) 4 months (breastfed for 14 months--but used pacifiers, no co-sleeping and fed on schedule, no separation, solids at 4 months)
#3) 7 months (breastfed 28 months, limited pacifier usage, no co-sleeping, but did nighttime nurse, and used a semi-schedule, in other words, not completely fed on cue, yet not completely by clock either, no separation, solids at 6 months)
#4) 14 months (currently still breastfeeding this 32 month old child with no intentions of weaning any time soon--used total attachment parenting--no separation of mother-baby, no pacifiers, fed completely on cue, co-slept happily, no solids until nearly a year old and then very sporadically)
I would say that my experience shows that when you change your parenting practices and use more attachment techniques, you clearly see the pattern in how long my amenorrhea lasted. Breastfeeding frequently day and night is the key. No separation, and definitely delaying solids.
Did I notice any fertility signals that let me know I was about to ovulate? ABSOLUTELY! I could feel "rumblings" deep in my ovaries. Tiny bits of crampy feelings like they were waking up down there. In fact I remember wondering if I used a breastpump once or twice a day in addition to our
regular nursing, if that would delay my ovulation (that extra little bit of stimulation). I think it was about two months after feeling those first tingles that my period actually appeared. So i did indeed have warning it was coming. No noticeable mucousy, ovulation like discharge though until after my period returned. So, I don't know if I had the actual warning period or whether it was a fertile cycle or not.
I think that it is important to add that in my experience as a lactation counselor, I have noticed over the years (as have many lactation experts in the field) that the heavier women tend to menstruate sooner than the thinner women. Now in my case that doesn't hold water because I was heavier with
each consecutive child postpartum and onward. HOWEVER, I do believe this theory as I've seen in in other women. I think had I used attachment parenting with number 2 and more with 3, I would have had a much longer period of amennorhea. It's not uncommon for a very thin woman who
attachment parents to go 2 or more years without a period.
#32 Andrea: (fifteen months)
I have been an NFP user for 3 years and 4 months. I experienced my first postpartum menstrual period after 15 months and 1 week of LAM. I had been charting so I could detect returning fertility, and I noticed fertile mucus a week before my period, and a temperature shift 5 days before. I had a 5-day luteal phase. Thus, although this cycle was ovulatory, it was infertile.
What did I do? I was rather faithful to ecological breastfeeding for many months. I never used pacifiers (tried to use them on a long car trip to no avail, and had intended to use them only in such situations). My daughter never had a bottle and we didn't start solids or cups until she was 10 1/2 months old, though she didn't really catch on to eating or cups until 12 months. We napped together until 6 weeks prior to my menses' return, as I started not being able to sleep well at night. Around the same time, she started sleeping through the night most of the time. She does still spend most of the night in our bed, although I have put her in a crib to sleep in the beginning of the night since she
was 3 months old. I didn't leave her with anyone for more than 2 hours until she was 10 1/2 months old (starting solids) and still have not left her for more than 4 hours straight (if that).
It has worked beautifully, but I hope that I have fully fertile cycles soon, as I am thinking about #2!
#33 Pam: (seven months, thirty months, twenty four months, eighteen months)
My first baby seven months when I became pregnant with #2. I had no period before then so I was unaware of the pregnancy until the 5th month and felt movement. With #2 I had no period for 2 and 1/2 years and then no pregnancy until he was 3ish. I lost the baby and got pregnant again a couple of months later. With the third baby, I had no periods for almost 2 years. He was very close to five when I became pregnant with next pregnancy which turned out to be twins. With twins, periods returned at about 18 months, but with a long ovulation cycle until recently when it started to be 30 days. We will see when #6 starts, although I do pray God is finished with this old body.
I did exclusive breastfeeding, no bottles, no pacifiers, co-sleeping with nighttime nursing (a big plus). With #2 I had no separation, with #3 some separation, and with the twins a little separation.
#34 Bea: (thirteen months, fourteen months, sixteen months)
I am going to give you the information for each of my three children one at a time:
MAX, born 3/17/95-
I had my first period when max was about 13 months old. I have one definitely charted for July 3, 1996, but I had 2 or 3 before then. I then conceived william on my fifth cycle, in August. Max nursed on demand until he was about 18 months old, at which point I would ask him to wait briefly now and then, but that didn't affect my amenorrhea, as I was already pregnant! :) He still sleeps with us, and has never been away from me for longer than half a day. For his first year or so, he was in arms or sling almost constantly. He never used any sort of artificial nipple as a baby, though he now insists on a bottle sometimes because of those #!*^& rugrats!!! He also does it to drive his lactivist mother nuts. He is still nursing about once a day.
For his first year, he nursed about every 1 1/2 to 3 hours throughout the day and night. I think that because I was sort of following standard advice to switch breasts during each feeding, he wasn't getting enough hindmilk (I have an abundant foremilk supply), so he was nursing more frequently to make up for it.
I noticed fertility signals prior to ovulation. I can usually feel that I am going to ovulate or have a period by moodiness, cervical fluid changes, water retention, fatigue, mittleschmertz, etc. Back then, I was not as keenly aware of what each signal meant, but I did feel as if I was nearly ovulating and having a "ghost" period for a few months before I finally did have my first bleed.
WILLIAM, born 5/5/97-
I had one period, beginning on July 1, 1998, when william was almost 14 months old. I conceived dora on about july 23, 1998.
William nurses as much as i am willing to let him. When we are really in sync and I have not been denying him too often (which always makes him ask more frequently), he nurses about five times a day.
By the time I had william, I had discovered the more natural way of nursing, to nurse on whatever breast was handy, and not be too strict about switching sides. He didn't nurse as frequently as max had, but got much chubbier. The same holds true for Dora (though she does go through periods
of nursing quite frequently.).
DORA, born 4/11/99-
How long did I experience lactational amenorrhea? Well, now, that is hard to answer. I still have not had a period, so am still experiencing lactational amenorrhea, but I think that I might be pregnant.... so if I AM pg, then i was fertile again in May. BUT, I also got pregnant when dora was 5 months old and had a miscarriage in October (I do believe miscarriages, hard as they are to deal with emotionally, to be part of the natural course of fertility. If a baby is still very small and nursing frequently, it stands to reason that the body will not want another baby to come along so soon. And if there are *3* nurslings, then all the more reason to have a miscarriage). All in all, this has been very confusing to me.
Parenting practices have been the same as the boys (including the bottle-- every now and then, dora wants one if the boys have one. And for a few months, we would give her one in the car if i was driving and couldn't nurse her but she didn't waste much effort sucking it. Mostly she just held it and fell asleep). She nurses as often as she likes, anywhere from 12 to 24 or more times a day. Some of
those times are very brief, of course.
I have been sure that I have been semi-fertile since shortly after she was born. I though that I was just crazy, but then I got pregnant when she was 5 months old. I wish that I had been charting temps, because I would have a better answer for you. But the boys stole my thermometer, and I could never remember to take my temp in the morning anyway, who can lie around for one minute when there are potties to be found and breakfast to be made...? :)
Anyway, in mid-May, I felt definite ovulation, the distinct mittleschmertz that I get when I ovulate. I haven't felt it since then, but I have felt pregnant... time will tell!
Well, I am finally at the end of my amenorrhea (though I do know that I have been at least semi-fertile before now)-- I started my first period this week, so I went 16 months this time of LA-- 25 months without a period (if we count the pregnancy as time without a period...).
My body was able to get it together to ovulate a few times, but not able to get the endometrium right
to make a baby place [Bea had a miscarriage] so i wasn't bleeding. Wow, though, it was trying really hard to have a successful ovulation a couple of weeks ago-- loads and loads of super fertile fluid! for days and days.....
#35 Jeni: (seven months, ten months, twelve months so far)
First child nearly 7 months (until he was almost completely weaned). Second child 10 months (began the day I stopped nursing and we had slowed WAY down ahead of time). Third child still no signs of fertility, first birthday is in 2 days.
The first 2 children I had no return of fertility while I nursed and both were given bottles at least on a semi regular basis, neither used pacifiers, neither were slept with, I was home with both of them and nursed on demand. My third child has never taken a pacifier and aside from the occasional bottle of water while driving in the car (never taking more than an once) does not take a bottle and never has. He does occasionally sleep with me and we used to take naps together until he thought it was playtime.
Neither time did I notice any fertility signals and although I had a period I couldn't guarantee that I ovulated since I was not charting and did not get pregnant at that time either.
My mother had 4 daughters and 3 sons. She nursed all seven children for approximately one year. She never had a period before the child was weaned and many times was pregnant before ever having a period and usually again within a couple cycles if not before. She didn't ever use pacifiers, gave occasional bottles of juice when away from the baby but never left the baby in the first 3 months. She nursed on demand but did not sleep with her babies though she did nurse them at night when they woke. Of her 4 daughters all have nursed their children (2, 2, 3, and 3 children with 2 of those expecting right now), none having a period before the children were fully weaned and none of them becoming pregnant until they began having cycles, most often taking about 6 months past weaning to conceive (none of us use birth control). Oh yes my mother was average to underweight during her childbearing years as are 3 of her daughters.
#36 Amy: (twelve months, eleven months)
These are my experiences with 2 breastfed kids.
#1 - exactly one year
#2 - 11 months
We co-slept, took naps, no bottles or pacifiers.
Did not track fertility until after mensus returned to try to conceive our next child. Began tracking after first period, cycle was very "typical" after that - I don't know what is normal for me, but it was like the books said it should be and it took us only one month of trying to conceive.
#37 Liz: (twenty-four months or so)
I experienced lactational amenorrhea little over 2 years
I did exclusive breastfeeding, not introducing solids until my son was really wanting them on a regular basis (he was about a year old), we did co-sleep (still do) and I NEVER restricted his nursing or when he nursed, he did have a pacifier (until he was 10 months old and then HE got rid of it) and he did have breastmilk in a bottle several times.
I did notice fertility signals, cramping, bloating pain on the side I was ovulating on, typical PMS
signs but they were MUCH, MUCH worse after my son was born than they ever were pre-pregnancy. I only had a period for maybe 5 months before I got pregnant again. All my cycles were irregular and much more uncomfortable than prior to the birth of my son.
I don't think I ovulated the first few times or I would have gotten pregnant (I get pregnant thinking about it too long), plus my first two cycles were VERY heavy but short. Just odd periods for me.
#38 Joannie: (five months, seven months, eleven months, eleven months so far )
Child 1. 5 months then a cycle then 4 months
Child 2. 7 months then a cycle then 2 or 3 months
Child 3. 11 months
Child 4. 11 months and still no periods
I did exclusive breastfeeding, no bottles, no pacifiers, co-sleeping, before 6 months of age daily naps often, little separation until 6 months or so then maybe 4-6 hours 2 nights per week, cup and food at 5 1/2 or 6 months but not a lot of food at every mealtime, tandam nursing especially with this sibling pair--the 11 month old and the three year old.
I noticed big change in mucous, ovary ache before ovulation, and I would say all but 2 or three of my in between baby cycles had a shorter than normal luteal phase.
#39 Kimberly: (twenty-four months, twenty months, fourteen months)
I experienced lactational amenorrhea of 24 months, 20 months, and 14 months.
I was with my babies constantly for the first 2 weeks, then returned to my home-business 4 days/week with my husband caring for the children. I scheduled 30 min. off every 90 minutes for nursing, bonding, etc. I also had some "unscheduled" visits if the baby was fussy. Babies nursed
frequently when I was home, and several times per night. We never used pacifiers, bottles, or baby food. Babies began solids around 5-6 months, or when they had teeth and took food from our plates. I always held them lots -almost constantly (so did Dad when I was unavailable). We never left them with sitters. We took them everywhere, and nursed everywhere. We slept with them in the early months, and they came in our bed and generally stayed after their first waking after a few months. They left our room around 18-24 months, and each weaned between 20-24 months.
I was not making routine checks for fertility, but we also were not terribly concerned about conceiving. Mucus was generally negligible. We use STM, and I am fairly certain (although not actively charting) that I had a warning period the first time. The second, I had very clear signs of
fertility, then ovulation. Two weeks later, I got my period (that was neat!). I had a warning period before my 3rd return to fertility. I nursed through the first few weeks/months of my 3rd & 4th pregnancies, but I encouraged weaning because it was uncomfortable.
Nursing has been a wonderful experience for our family. Our kids nurse their babies instead of use bottles for them, and they are very nurturing toward each other. It also gave me the opportunity to bond uniquely with each one, and often was an excuse for a much needed rest. I achieved pre-pregnacy weights within a few months of each birth, which was nice.
#40 Theresa: (five weeks, six weeks)
With baby #1, I experienced 5 weeks of lactational amenorrhea, with baby #2, 6 weeks.
I breastfeed exclusively. No bottles or pacifiers. With both, we co-slept with #1 for a year and #2 for five months.
With baby #1, I thought I had fertility mucus and then about 5 days later started my period. I then was irregular for about 4 months but able to detect fertility and did get a period every month (just not at my regular 28 days)
Baby #2 was the same. I had fertility mucus at 5 weeks and had a period at 6 weeks. It took 4 months to get regular with my periods also (had a 33 day cycle, 40, 21, 30, then regular).
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