Ah, Birth control. I didn't really like being on the pill. At all. It made my periods really gross and didn't even regulate them how it's supposed to. I don't ever want to go back to artificial hormones again. Ever. Period.
So after having Margaret I read up on more natural ways to prevent pregnancy. I was very afraid that any sort of hormonal birth control (even the mini-pill) would wreck havoc on my supply, so I wanted to avoid that. After some research, I figured I was a good candidate for the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM), it has been our primary form of birth control with some FAM mixed in.
The LAM method is actually more effective than barrier methods like condoms for the first 6 months. In general, the LAM method includes:
- Exclusive breastfeeding. Exclusively breastfeeding means the baby needs to be at the breast for all nutritional needs. Pumping does not stimulate as much oxytocin as an actual baby does. While pumping is a wonderful way to ensure your baby has the best nutrition when you're away, it isn't the best way to prevent pregnancy.
- Feeding at least every 4 hours in the day at and least 6 hours at night.
- Being less than 6 months postpartum.
- Not having any bleeding after 56 days postpartum- thought I don't agree with this considering I bled lochia up to about 70 days postpartum. The "56 days" is just to let you know that lochia bleeding doesn't affect fertility.
- No artificial nipples. This includes any bottles (even for pumped breastmilk) or pacifiers.
- No food or water besides breastmilk for the first 6 months of life.
- Breastfeeding every 4 hours in the day and 6 at night is a bare minimum. The baby should nurse for comfort, not just nutrition, and on-demand. Scheduling feedings hurts this method.
- Co-sleep* so the baby has unrestricted access to the breast at night.
- Limit mother/infant separation as much as possible. This can mean that you babywear instead of using a stroller- the physical contact between baby and mother is to help keep the hormone levels so that ovulation can't occur.
- Take a daily nap with your baby.
In her book, Kippley mentions a study she did with her ecological breastfeeding method- and on average it took about 14/15 months for fertility to return. I'm at over 16 months of infertility. I guess you could say I'm "above average."
Of course the LAM isn't feasible for everyone, probably not even most moms, but it's there for the few who have the option of it.
Books I read in studying this:
Taking Charge of your Fertility. This is like the fertility bible and teaches the basics of fertility and FAM and charting. I didn't find its breastfeeding chapter to be very good, though.
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
Your Fertility Signals Much shorter than TCOYF and simpler, but I think it had nicer information on fertility and breastfeeding. Since it is so short, this would be a great introduction to menstruation and fertility for a girl learning about her menses.
Also kellymom.com has some good information too.
*I wanted to note again that co-sleeping doesn't always mean bed-sharing. Cosleeping includes any sleeping arrangement where the baby is in the room with you- where you can hear and respond to your baby's needs quickly.