The Fun Carter Family asked, "How long do you plan on nursing Margaret? Do you find that you get a lot of "odd" looks because you're still nursing?"
At the moment, I plan on nursing Margaret as long as she likes. I'm not easily "touched out" at this point, so I don't have any objections to continuing to nurse. I do feel more "touched out" around the time I ovulate because of hormones or when I'm very tired in the evenings, but that happens only a couple of times a month, but 95% of the time, it's working for both me and Margaret. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right?
As for odd looks, I don't actually get many. Or any. I think most people I interact with read my blog, know of it, or at least know my opinions on breastfeeding. I think my lack of odd looks is due to the fact that everyone knows this is important to me and I'm not going to be menaced into weaning by odd looks or even a verbal confrontation or anything less than Margaret no longer needing it. The only times people have asked me about it were simple curiosity. For example, a couple of months ago a lady at church asked me if I was still nursing Margaret, but I think it was because she hadn't seen me doing it in a while.
Seth and Brittney asked, "I have been wondering since you posted on it about how your breastfeeding interferes with your getting pregnant. I know this is more of a women's health question but can you explain that more? What makes it difficult when you are nursing the way you are--baby with access to the breast at night, etc.-- to get pregnant?"
In general, it's because of the hormone prolactin. Every time you nurse and your nipple is stimulated, prolactin is released. It's responsible for your milk supply, but also keeps your eggs from maturing and being released. This is why frequency and duration of breastfeeding have a great affect on fertility.
But what about people like me- I've had regular periods for over a year and have been consistently ovulating for over half a year (before that I wasn't taking my temps, so I can't be sure, though I found some notes the other day that indicate I was having fertile mucous from the very first cycle). My prolactin isn't doing its "don't ovulate" job.
Currently, I'm in what kellymom considers to be the 2nd phase of returning fertility, "Ovulation without luteal competence." What this means is that the time between my ovulation and my period is too short for a fertilized egg to implant and give the "Hey you're pregnant" signal. My body goes into period mode too soon, so even if I do have a fertilized egg, I never know. I could be having a miscarriage every month and not know it. From what I've read, luteal phase isn't related to prolactin, but progesterone- and I don't seem to have enough.
Lack of progesterone is actually good for my ability to make milk. From what I picked out of this lengthy, technically-dense article, progesterone and prolactin fight for the same receptors on the aveolar cells, meaning more progesterone can mean less prolactin- and less supply. This is why the progesterone-only "mini-pill" birth control can have an affect on supply, especially if supply hasn't been established prior to starting the pills. It doesn't have the same great affect as estrogen, but it has some.
Highlights from the kellymom page I linked to above:
The amount of time that it takes for the transition to full fertility varies from woman to woman. In general, the earlier that your menses return, the more gradual the return to full fertility.I think that for many moms night weaning is easier than day weaning, so it gets suggested a lot. Also it's an easy time to go without nursing for a few hours. I have heard of moms day weaning and nursing only for naps and night time in order to get their fertility back.
Many moms can conceive without deliberately changing their toddler's nursing patterns. There is no "magic" threshold of breastfeeding that will allow you to conceive -- every mother is different. Some moms need to stretch out nursing frequency and/or shorten nursing sessions to make it easier to conceive -- babies naturally do this themselves as they get older, so one of your options is simply to wait a bit.
Changes that are more abrupt tend to bring fertility back faster (e.g., cutting out one nursing session abruptly, rather than gradually decreasing nursing time at that session) --even if you continue to breastfeed a great deal-- this is why many mothers experience the return of fertility when their child sleeps through the night or starts solid foods. If you decide to make changes to your nursing pattern, the time of day that you make the change (e.g., cutting out or shortening a nighttime nursing session as opposed to a daytime nursing session) should not make that much of a difference. Current research indicates that nursing frequency and total amount of time at the breast per 24 hours are the most important factors, rather than the time of day that the suckling occurs.
Am I going to do anything to lengthen my luteal phase like trying Vitex? Not right now. It's been quite a journey from nightmares of Margaret weaning a year ago to getting used to the idea that "if you have periods, you should assume that you are fertile" and thinking I might get pregnant any day. Going from using 3-4 pregnancy tests a month to giving up on that and just waiting has been a bit of a let down. Then I look at Margaret and see how small she still is and how much she needs needs the breast. I don't know when my full fertility will return, but right now it's just not supposed to happen for whatever reason.