I am nursing my 18 month old daughter and have not yet experienced a menstruation. She has never had a bottle or a pacifier, and was started on solids at 7 months.
We semi co-sleep, that is, she starts the night in her own bed, and comes to the family bed for a suckle during the night if she wants one, or early in the morning when she wakes up. When she was younger, we did co sleep most of the time.
About 2 months ago, I did experience some fertile mucus, but no menstruation. I am definately not pregnant.
#62 Shelly (seven months, eighteen months, eighteen months, eighteen months, and eighteen months)
For our first child we used some pacifiers the first months and really pushed baby foods around a 6 months to a year old. We had some pressure from family about extended breastfeeding,"Are you still nursing that baby?" "That baby always has a tit in his mouth!". We didn't co sleep, but were rarely separated. He was gradually weaned by 16 months. I didn't hear about baby led weaning until child #2. I did nap with the first but didn't nap with the rest.
With the last four children we exclusively breastfed until around eight months, or when the child grunted and pointed to food on the table and let us know they wanted some. We gave no bottles or pacifiers, co slept, and were not separated. Periods began around eighteen months. The second child weaned at 3 ½ years, the third child weaned at 2, the fourth is 4 and is still nursing, the fifth is eighteen months old and still nursing.
With the exception of one time when my husband was a deacon in a church and we had many responsibilities, we used a pacifier to occupy the baby when I couldn't get to her right away. I felt awkward nursing in front of the Pastor there because his wife wasn't able to breastfeed, and they kind of thought of it as gross. You know the kind of people who are very uncomfortable around
breastfeeding. Well, I would use a pacifier when she was hungry, rather than nurse in front of them. This was #4. More and more things were busying us and I was separated from the baby for "important meetings" (HA!) and whatnot.
I had a period when she was about eight months old, but promptly reevaluated my lifestyle, cut way down on my responsibilities, quit using the pacifier and being away from my baby. I had no more periods until 18 months, but I did get a lot of flack for "still breastfeeding my one year old" HA! They didn't know that her 3 year old sister was still nursing too, or they would have flipped a gourd. I had worked hard to keep my extended nursing a secret. Eventually we just stopped going there, the attitudes didn't stop from them with the nursing, they thought everything we did was weird and in
the end, we just could not get along because of it. With my first I would nurse in bathrooms, but now I nurse my eighteen month old in public with no problems, but only the family knows that the four year old still nurses. I didn't notice any fertility signals before the periods resumed.
#63 Colleen (eleven months, six months)
As I type I am nursing my nearly 9 mo daughter. Although we cosleep, never used a pacifier, frequently nap together, are rarely separated (1 -1.5 hrs tops), and didn't start solids until about 7 months, I got my first postpartum bleeding at about 5.5 months (we use nfp but were not charting at that time). We charted a 56-day anovulatory cycle that ended with another bleeding episode, then another 38-day ovulatory cycle that ended two days ago with the onset of mestruation. This last cycle was a short (6 day) luteal phase. We had an onset of mucus on day 8, with a noticable change in the cervix at day nine or so, and fertile mucus starting around day 17.
With our first two children, we also intensively and exclusively breastfed. Menstruation returned at 30 weeks with our first, but ovulation did not occur until we weaned him abruptly at 11 months. In bewteen we had several bleeding episodes, none of which were preceded by ovulation until he weaned. Menstruation returned at six months with our second, followed by an ovulatory cycle of 39 days with a 4 day luteal phase, after which pretty much regular cycling resumed (29-33 day cycles with about 8-10 day luteal phases). Our children are 26 and 25 months apart.
We wish that our LAM experiences were longer (I am sitting here with my own "diaper" on!), but we are also thankful that we have such strong fertility.
#64 Kathleen (fifteen months, twenty-four months, fourteen months)
Baby No. 1 (Exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles, no solids) for 5.5 months but with separation while I worked a flexible schedule): Period returned at 7 months; ovulation returned at 15 months. Cycles very long -- 60 to 90 days. Conceived 2nd pregnancy at 19 months.
Baby No. 2 (exclusive breastfeeding for 8 months, ecological breastfeeding, tandem nursing with my 2.5-year-old): Period return at 15 months, ovulation at 24 months, which is about when my older one weaned. Conceived third pregnancy at 33 months. Baby No. 2 weaned at 35.5 months.
Baby No. 3: I got my period at 14.5 months postpartum. And there was an ovulation before it.
I didn't use pacifiers and slept with all my children.
#65 Michelle (two months)
Unlike most breastfeeding women I have been unfortunate in the menstration department. I had my first period only 8 weeks postpartum and have had one every three weeks since then. My son is almost 6 months old now. I exclusively breastfeed on demand around the clock. He has never had a bottle nor a pacifier. We even share a bed with him to facilitate nighttime nursing. At 5 months he weighed in at a hefty 20 lbs. so there is no question that I am producing plenty of milk. I have read on the subject trying to figure why I am experiencing periods while nursing, but nothing seems to adequately explain. I saw my OBGYN 2 weeks ago. She ran tons of tests to make sure that there was nothing abnormal causing the bleeding. Everything checked out o.k. and her conclusion is that I am one of the unlucky ones.
Note: After corresponding with Michelle, we decided that her early return of fertility was most likely due to her son being a very fast nurser.
#66 Joselyn (twenty-nine months, eight months so far)
I had no periods from Sept. 97, when I conceived my daughter, to Sept. 2000. So I had 27 months of LA, although it was 29 months before I ovulated. I worked away from her for 1-1/2 years of that time.
I slept with my daughter from the time I became too scared that I would fall asleep and drop her in middle of the night, which was around 1-2 months old. She was fed breastmilk exclusively until 6 months old (no pacifiers, no formula) and continued to receive it as her main source of nutrition until well after the 1 year mark. I always fed her on cue, day or night.
Wrench: I had to return to work when she was 12 weeks old. I knew the incredible advantages of breastfeeding and was determined not to deprive her of them despite this. So I introduced bottles of my milk at about 9 wks and nursed her before I left, as soon as I got home, and whenever she asked, which turned into very frequent evening and night feedings. I pumped during lunch (although as she neared 2 yrs old, I just pumped on the way home to make the next day's supply). I used a double electric pump and used pictures and thoughts of my baby nursing to stimulate letdown (until I had been nursing long enough it happened automatically). I nursed on requests during the weekends, never used babysitters, and spent the night away from her only twice during this time, once for 1 night and once for two, pumping vigorously out of necessity.
I did not ever nap with her while nursing. I was away from her for 9-10 hrs/day. When I started staying home with her (mid-May '00) and she found me home all day, she nursed with her usual evening frequency all day. But by July, she was down to about the same # of feedings in a 24 hour period as before, just spread out throughout the day instead of only at night. That decreased the nighttime (sleeping) feedings naturally, which allowed my body to resume thinking about fertility, as
I had expected.
In September, I had my first cycle. I had no period in October, had another in November, and conceived in December. (I had never skipped a period before, ever.) I was using the Creighton Ovulation method of NFP, but decided to start taking my temp in Sept. just for kicks. That showed that I did not ovulate until December (on day 26, strangely).
I knew fertility was about to resume through the signs I saw - two weeks before my first postpartum period, my nails grew brittle again (they had always split and cracked until the first time I became pregnant and had remained strong through all my LA), I started seeing near-continuous peak-type mucus (I've always had a ridiculous amount of mucus), and my still-nursing daughter got pimples! Two weeks before the next period, I got bloated for the first time since her conception.
I had my son in August of 2001 and have nursed him exclusively - we're in month 8 of no menses. He has had no pacifiers or bottles, been nursed completely on cue, slept with me, nursed 2-4 times each night (at his need) while I slept, nursed me to a nap about 2-3xs a week, and not been left with babysitters. He has never slept away from me. In addition, I carry him in a sling when I go out (which fosters nursing and increases mothering (fertility-inhibiting) hormones) and occasionally around the house and hold him whenever he needs it. He is just now starting to eat about a teaspoon of oatmeal, rice, or water each day. I have absolutely no signs of a return to fertility.
Science has revealed that 2-3 yrs spacing is ideal for both babies and mom. Following the principles that keep fertility at bay does this, not coincidentally. This tells me that these principles mother-baby togetherness, breastfeeding, etc.) are best for baby, even if my family thinks I'm nuts for nursing a 2 year old or not sending a 6 mth old to a babysitter.
For kicks, I would characterize my build as medium, and I was somewhat thin for my build from the time my daughter was 1 until I conceived my son.
#67 Michele (twenty-two months so far)
I have breastfed my son, Gabriel, on demand, since birth. He has never used a pacifier, bottle, sucked his thumb, or been apart from me long enough to miss a meal. We sleep together, and until recently he stayed latched on almost all night. I wore him or held him continuously until he started crawling. He eats some solids, but even when he eats large amounts of food, it doesn't seem to affect his milk consumption. I am currently period free.
Gabriel is now 22 months, and nothing yet! I have never used pacifiers or supplemental feedings. He currently eats about 1000-1300 calories worth of food, yet still drinks milk 6 times nightly and 2 times daily, though lately he has been trying to get milk more during the day, but there is nothing there. I believe I have been ovulating since May 27 of last year but it is erratic. I have mittelschmertz, so I knew exactly when I ovulate.
#68 Valerie (?, nine months, eight and a half months, nine months)
#1) 6 weeks postpartum I experienced a bleeding episode which I took to be my first postpartum menses. Had I known more, I wouldn't have started to wean our baby at that time. Nursed by the clock and didn't enjoy it.
#2) 9 months. Didn't start charting until after the first period, so I don't know if I ovulated prior or not. We followed an attachment-parenting style and didn't start solids until he started wanting them at around 7 months. Breastfed exclusively until that point, then permitted bottles very sporadically. Breastfed until 14 months when he weaned, got pregnant the following month, miscarried at three months.
#3) 8.5 months. Followed the same parenting style as above, but used charting when fertile mucus would appear. Charted for several months without ovulation. Had a warning period without any apparent ovulation. First ovulation occurred some days after a 6-hour separation and first pp menses followed. Ovulated with each cycle after that. Became pregnant at 11 months pp, breastfed until 14 months. Miscarried at almost 4 months.
#4) 9 months. Same parenting style, started charting at 7 months w/appearance of fertile mucus. Detected ovulation prior to first menses. Became pregnant at 10.5 months. Baby is now 12 months, still nursing, still pregnant. :-)
One thing I think might make a difference in the length of amenorrhea (for me) is taking a nap with the baby during the day. I do not nap with my babies unless I am pregnant! :-)I guess I'm out of Lactational Amenorrhea. I had a bleeding episode about two weeks ago and I think it was preceded by ovulation. Although I wasn't charting, I was keeping an eye on things, but it still crept up as a bit of a surprise. *sigh* DS is 8.5 months old and this is the EARLIEST it has
returned, despite his night nursing and my laying down with him to nurse for naps. He has *never* gotten a bottle, used a pacifier, or sucked on his fingers. All I can figure is it happened after being on a 3-week RV vacation, meaning he slept more on the travel days and nursed less frequently. Couple that with his efficiency at suckling and increased interest in FOOD, then it really isn't a big surprise. The funny thing is, I thought I had a bladder infection while on vacation, but in retrospect I think it may have been mittelschmerz as I also had very liquidy mucus...and about 14 days later I started bleeding.
#69 Jenny (seventeen months)
My amenorrhea lasted one week short of 17 months. Mark was exclusively breastfed for 9 months, then gradually introduced to solids. He did not begin eating more than 20% of his meals from the table until around 13-14 months. Baby led feedings, frequent night feedings. No bottles, pacifiers, or thumb sucking ever. We do co-sleep, take a nap together when possible. I always did until around a year, then started to try and get something accomplished during nap time. We have very minimal separation; I work 2-4 hours a week in the evenings about every other week, and did not begin to do so until he was 14 months. Otherwise I take him with me pretty much
wherever I go.
I began having what I would have considered fertile mucous in my pre-baby days just before 11 months. As it did not change over time (clear to cloudy and watery, but with minimal stretch), we considered it background after the first 6 weeks. There was a very noticeable change in the two weeks before I actually ovulated to a more fertile, stretchy mucous. Cervical changes were also present before ovulation that had not been there before with the background mucous. To my knowledge, there were never any patches of more fertile mucous before that point. I also had lower BBT's before the return of fertility (in the range of mid to upper 96's) which slowly started to increase as I drew closer to returned fertility (in the upper 96's and low to mid 97's as pre ovulatory temps). I attribute the return to fertility to a combination of age, increased solid consumption, but most particularly to the fact that he slept through the night for two weeks (never has before or since), and I ovulated immediately after that.
My first menses was preceded by ovulation. The luteal phase was of normal length for myself, but mine are always at the lower end of the range. Time to the next ovulation was three weeks, but that also was normal for me in a non-lactating state. We conceived in that cycle (planned), so no further cycles for comparison.
I am 4' 11" with a moderate bone structure, and sit around 100 lbs even in my non-pregnant state (for height, that's on the lower end of average, but is not considered thin).
We consider the spacing between pregnancies provided by LAM to be of a very good range. If I had experienced an earlier return to fertility we probably would have postponed pregnancy as Mark had health issues early on and was very high needs, but it has worked out well for us.
#70 Eva (seventeen months, nine months)
With my 1st son, I had a c-section. The postpartum bleeding lasted almost three months and then changed into irregular menses. I breastfed on demand (night too) for 22 months and pumped also during the 1st year so that I could be away for 3-4 hours per night for grad school. He began solids at 5 months and we used a pacifier. We did not use any form of birth control and I became pregnant again at 17 months postpartum.
With my 2nd son, pure vbac. I had a very brief period of postpartum bleeding. I breastfed on demand, no time away from the child and he refused anything but the breast until 8 months and this was sparingly. We practice the family bed and night nursed, no pacifier. I noticed heavier discharge
around the 8th month, but no bleeding. In mid November I found out that I was 3 months pregnant, probably conceived about 9.5 months postpartum, again we had not been using any type of family planning or artificial contraception. My menses never returned and I obviously ovulated without ever having a period.
I attribute the differences in conception to outside factors rather than the breastfeeding. After the c-section, my life was very stressful and I had a long recovery. The second time I had an easy delivery, and a very non-stressful life. As soon as we started solids my fertility returned. Unfortunately, my milk has died up, leaving me with a very disappointed 13 month old.
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