It was around the time my girls started sleeping longer stretches at night that my menstrual cycles returned. But back then I didn't have the sense to realize that being without a period every month was far more valuable (for me) than uninterrupted sleep. I longed and cheered for their extended sleep stretches. I didn't know myself and my body well enough, I guess. So my cycle returned after roughly 5-6 months and, with it, the beast.
You see... I would be my best self if I could spend the rest of my life either pregnant or exclusively breastfeeding. As in... having monthly cycles messes royally with that whole "pursuit of happiness" thing. PMS stinks. The few days before my period starts, it's like a nasty demon moves in and starts gnashing its teeth. I hate who I become. I hate the way I feel.
So I did some poking around on the internet the other day and found out about Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). I think LAM is my new best friend. How did I not know about this before?!
LAM is primarily considered a form of birth control, but I don't intend to utilize it for that purpose. Even so, LAM is roughly 98% effective at preventing pregnancy in the first 6 months after birth when practiced correctly. You must answer "no" to each of these questions in order to rely on LAM:
* Have your menstral cycles returned?Dr. Sears' website shares the following tips for using breastfeeding to delay ovulation:
* Are you supplementing regularly or allowing long periods without breastfeeding, either during the day (more than three hours) or at night (more than six hours)?
* Is your baby more than six months old?
1) Practice unrestricted breastfeeding without regard to schedules. Usually six to eight breastfeedings a day will suppress ovulation.Fortunately I'm already doing most of these things. But before I learned about LAM, my resolve was wavering somewhat. Bubs is so interested in food and eating. I'm so tempted to introduce solids to him. And what sleep-deprived mother doesn't salivate at the thought of uninterrupted sleep? So I'm grateful to now have a clear purpose to motivate me--keeping the monster at bay. All of Dr. Sears' tips will be beneficial to my baby anyway, so it's all the more reason to embrace them whole-heartedly. I love LAM.
2) Don't train your baby to sleep through the night. (The milk-making hormones that suppress ovulation are highest between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.) Nighttime nursing is important to the suppression of fertility. Sleeping with your baby facilitates unrestricted feeding at night.
3) All of baby's sucking should be at the breast, for comfort as well as food. Avoid the use of supplemental bottles and pacifiers.
4) Delay the introduction of solid foods until age six months or later. Solids should provide additional nutrition, not substitute for breastfeedings.
Here's hoping it all pays off. I'm encouraged by this statement from Dr. Sears
[R]esearch has shown that women who practice natural mothering according to the above rules will average 14.5 months without a period following childbirth. Remember, this is only an average. A few mothers will experience a return of menstrual periods by six months, others not until two or three years (source).No period for years?! Music to my ears! :-)