Monday, May 14, 2012

A Different Conversation About Breastfeeding

This is not a post about the Time magazine article.

All I will say about THAT is to each his own (or her own in this case).  We don't need to fuel the fire of mommy wars with articles like these.  I have no problem with a woman choosing to nurse for 3+ years, but nursing your kid for 3+ years does not make you a better mother than someone who went to work 8 weeks postpartum.  Everyone's decisions that they make for their own family are OK and there's no need for one group to be fighting with the other.  We don't need a Working Mothers vs. Attachment Mothers.  We should all just be MOTHERS and be in this together.

So, moving on to another conversation about breastfeeding.

Most people can rattle off a whole list of benefits to breastfeeding both to baby and to mother, especially in the early months when baby has no immunity and uses mother's antibodies exclusively to ward off disease and stay healthy and when mama uses breastfeeding both to help her uterus contract back down to a normal size and to help lose a little baby weight.

And most women have a strong desire to give breastfeeding a go with their newborns.

But nobody talks about the other reason to breastfeed that has nothing to do with the health of mother or baby.

Breastfeeding as Birth Control.

Breastfeeding (let me specify ON DEMAND breastfeeding) has been used as birth control for centuries (we could even say thousands of years here).

Royalty has always used the LACK of breastfeeding to pop out as many kids as possible knowing full well that keeping the baby on the boob would delay the next royal heir.  Many devout Catholics use this anti-breastfeeding as a tool to have more children as well.  You can bet your ass Michelle Duggar does not do breastfeeding on demand.

Hunter gatherer tribes do the opposite.  They keep the baby on the boob FOR YEARS so that they don't have millions of children.  It works beautifully.  I don't have exact statistics for you guys but let's just say Irish twins (siblings less than 1 year apart in age) are unheard of in hunter gatherer societies.

Given my history and my possible PCOS I feel that breastfeeding is the only tool I have in my arsenal to have any choice about how far apart in age my children will be.

To refresh the memory of the masses I ovulated exactly once on my own in the year and a half that we were TTC and it was 8 weeks after a miscarriage.  


While it's possible there were other factors that led to my spontaneous ovulation I firmly believe it was the pregnancy and I feel strongly that I can ovulate soon after a pregnancy has ended in the future.

But I don't want Irish twins.

I'm aiming for 2 years apart.

But I don't know if I can ovulate more than once.

So, enter breastfeeding.

I NEED to be able to breastfeed in order to keep whatever ovulation may or may not happen at bay for at least a year.

If I stop breastfeeding at 2 months and I ovulate soon after.  WE HAVE TO TRY FOR BABY #2 AT THAT TIME because as far as I know my ovaries have a very small window of opportunity to pop out eggs on their own.

And I don't know what my window is.  Is it one cycle?  2 cycles?  More?

The only information I have to go on is that my periods ceased 6 months after I stopped my pills BEFORE we were TTC and were irregular the whole time leading up to the complete stoppage.  Unfortunately I wasn't temping so I have NO IDEA if I ovulated at all coming off my pills.  What I do know is that 6 months later I DEFINITELY was not ovulating.

And I know I ovulated ONCE after a miscarriage.  Luckily once was all it took to get pregnant again but I have no idea if I would have ovulated more than once had a pregnancy not taken place.

Unfortunately I also know that the first pregnancy did not leave my ovaries cyst-free, I had an ultrasound to confirm my uterus was clear a few days after the miscarriage and they were still polycystic but apparently they were just clear enough to pop out an egg.

I know there's a lot of skepticism about BOD (that's Breastfeeding On Demand) WORKING as a tool to delay ovulation, but I believe strongly that it does work.  It's an evolutionary tool after all.  

Evolution is amazing that way.

Tori Spelling, Michelle Duggar and Rosie Pope getting pregnant just months after popping out a kid do not count as using BOD as birth control....I guarantee they were not.  They were probably hoping that whatever amount of breastfeeding they were doing would work, but I'm certain they were not BOD. 

Cause you have to do it right.

Scheduled feedings will lower the effectiveness of this working.

Pumping can lower the effectiveness.

Basically anything that doesn't involve your boob being there whenever you baby needs it will lower the effectiveness.

But I'm ok with that.

Even introducing solids at 6 months, which is customary, can lower the effectiveness.

But I'm ok with that too.

If I make it to 6 months exclusively BOD with no ovulation and suddenly we introduce solids and I ovulate?  FINE.  We'll have kids 16 months apart.  IT IS WHAT IT IS.

I'll control what I CAN control and leave the rest up in the air.

If we get to a year and a half and I'm STILL not ovulating?  Time to cut the kid off the boob and see what happens.

Control what I can.

Of course this means I've just put a ton of pressure on myself to be able to breastfeed, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?  I think of it as motivation rather than pressure.  I AM GOING TO DO IT.

I'm going to pretend I'm a cavewoman and if I can't breastfeed my baby THEN MY BABY WILL DIE.  No pumps, no bottles, no formula will be in this house.  IT'S BREASTFEED OR BUST.

Otherwise we have to deal with the rigmarole of going to the RE again and as much fun as that was it was way more fun to get pregnant like normal people.

So, I open this up to discussion, what are your thoughts on BOD as birth control and any of you plan to use it as your sole form of birth control post baby?


  1. Ohhhh, I'm excited to read the comments for this post. I'm very interested in BOD. Since I have some theories developed about the use of birth control in our society and the statistics of women suffering from IF, I'm officially never using the pill or anything like it again. I do plan to BOD in the beginning and see how it goes, I know every baby is different and some need structure and schedules while others thrive without it. I'm open to whatever, but I do NOT want to get pregnant right away... like not for another 3 years or so. I doubt I could BOD for that long but maybe I'll consider doing it longer to help myself to not ovulate. I have heard, actually from my OB that if we want multiple children that our chances are best right after giving birth. I like the idea of using that to my benefit but not right away.... Thanks for giving me something to think about!!

    1. I have a similar theory about birth control and IF and I will NEVER pop another BCP again!

  2. Nope and yup. We definitely will not be using any birth control. Hell it cost us 50k to get this baby we will take all the free babies we can get. I don't have have any desire to breast feed on demand though, I like the idea of building in some stretches of freedom for me and the ladies.....I will likely have a schedule, if we get pregnant I'll be thrilled whenever it may be! although, who are we kidding, we are very unlikely to need any birth control.

    1. I feel the same about birth control. I will never need it again. If I do ovulate and for some reason we don't want any more babies it's easily avoidable to NOT have sex when I'm ovulating =) And who am I kidding, what are the chances of me ovulating more than a few times anyway?!

    2. That's how I feel I have spent a fortune on getting pregnant, a freebie would be lovely.

  3. I'm not going to use birth control either- if we are blessed with another one we will take it! Even if it may be hard work! :)

  4. Interesting! I also agree with you and will not use BC pills again. At least until I am finished bearing children. I also kind of always thought pregnancy would kickstart my hormones and my body into gear, and I am hoping all is well after pregnancy. Although I love your idea of BOD to ensure this!

  5. Love your post! I have been off bcp for over 6 years ...and never plan on going back. Given what I've been through - there's no way I'm going to stop myself from getting pregnant.

  6. I don't plan to ever use birth control again. I don't like the pill and did not use it before TTC, we used condoms had we known about our IF we could have saved hundreds! I plan on breastfeeding till at least 12 months but I do want to start for #2 within 9-12 months as my eggs aren't getting any younger. If AF fails to return whilst BF I will have to regretfully give it up, if it does I will continue BF and TTC until I return to work when I will start to wean. So BF as a form of birth control but if I got pregnant wouldn't stress me out.

  7. I'm another one that doesn't plan on ever using birth control again. 3,5 years of TTC and 2 years of fertility treatments, a child created on our own would be a miracle.

    As for breast feeding, I haven't thought about it too much, but I'm definitely going to give it a go and what happens. I hope I'll be able to do it and that the baby will figure it out with me. But if for some reason breastfeeding doesn't work, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

  8. As someone who did BOD, it's not as hard as some might think. It's natural to want to feed your kid all the time. Plus, Sadie didn't take to the pacifier, so a nipple was the only way for a long time to get her to calm down or to sleep. I plan on BOD again, but I wouldn't count on anything as fool-proof birth control...and I hope not!! I want to be pregnant in 6-9 months after having this one!!

  9. I'm all about the Irish twins and then a little snip snip for my hubby (who will be almost 45 when this baby is born). Ideally I'd like a little more space between my kids, but time is not on my side and I'm looking forward to getting all the no sleep/baby stuff done in 3-4 years and not having to start over. Of course there's always secondary infertility, which means I'll have one baby and I'll like it.

  10. First time reading your blog and as a PCOSer with an 18 month old I figured I'd chime in for laughs. :-) I got pregnant on a natural cycle {Funny how the million medicated cycles produced nothing. Even all my chemical pregnancies were on natural cycles. I digress.} I did what my motherly instincts told me to- nurse on demand and keep my baby close at all times. My daughter is almost 19 months and still nursing on demand. Still cosleeping. I induced my first post partum period with blackstrap molasses and apple cider vinegar when she was 16 months old with the hopes that it would clear me out and we could jump start fertility. Enter another chemical pregnancy and we're currently on cycle number 2. is an amazing resource for all things breastfeeding! From what I understand {and what I did} to encourage delayed return of menstruation is nurse on demand throughout day and night, co-sleep, no pacifiers well that was more her despite me wanting her to take one, not giving bottles, doing baby led weaning thus not giving solids until older, and not leaving longer than about 2 hours at a time. The more your baby is around you, your body knows this and keeps baby in mind before telling your body it is time to prepare for another. I highly encourage you to check out for more specific scientific data about lactoahmmenorhea or however you spell it! :-) Congrats on your pregnancy!

  11. ...Though I admit, I was one who desperately wanted irish twins. Go figure! :-)