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Rude Awakening

So I wrote last week all about the beautiful things about breastfeeding, and this week, I got a rude awakening that made me realize I was taking a couple of those things for granted.

First, two more awesome things about breastfeeding, both having to do with your lovely uterus:

1. It helps your uterus go back to its pre-pregnancy shape and position faster. It also helps stem bleeding following birth. It was a pro in my book, but it’s actually one of the things that some women dislike about breastfeeding at first. It feels like mild cramping each time you nurse during the first couple of weeks. It was slightly annoying, but honestly, there was so much other mess going on, that I didn’t notice it much. Clearly, since I forgot to mention it.

2. It keeps your period at bay. As someone with dysmenorrhea who has been slogging through ridiculously painful periods since I was a teenager, this has been huge for me. I haven’t had a period since September 2010, first because I was pregnant, duh, and then because I met the requirements for the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (sometimes called Exclusive Breastfeeding), which is 98%+ effective in protecting you from ovulation (and therefore pregnancy), if you meet the following requirements, according to my midwife and KellyMom.comYour baby is younger than six months old; your period has not yet returned; baby is breastfeeding on demand (both day and night), and gets nothing but breastmilk or only token amounts of other foods.

But it gets better. I just found out that there’s a name for the way I’ve been nursing Babygirl (of course, there’s always yet another label): 
"ecological breastfeeding." This specific form of breastfeeding is why, more than a year after the kid emerged from my cooch, my period has been blessedly MIA. Well, until this week, hence the rude awakening. Damn.

I’ll let the term’s creator, Sheila Kippley, explain, per Jen O’Quinn’s Natural Child Spacing and Breastfeeding: “In Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, Kippley describes ecological breastfeeding as the kind of nursing that most effectively spaces babies: nursing on cue, keeping baby close, providing all nourishment and liquids at the breast for the first five to eight months, and nursing to comfort the baby. It does not include the use of bottles or pacifiers, mother-baby separation, parent-imposed feeding schedules or restriction of night nursings. All of these practices limit the nipple stimulation that suppresses ovulation.”

According to O’Quinn, if you practice ecological breastfeeding:

  • You chance of pregnancy is practically zero during the first three months, less than 2% between 3 and 6 months, and about 6% after 6 months (assuming your menstrual periods have not yet returned).
  • The average time for the return of menstrual periods is 14.6 months.
  • Moms whose cycles return early tend to be infertile for the first few cycles. Moms whose cycles return later are more likely to ovulate before their first period.

So it looks like I was about due for that rude awakening, as Babygirl turns 14 months, right about…now. Damn. It was fun while it lasted. 

I’m Kenrya Rankin Naasel, a lifestyle + parenting expert who—after much prodding from her friends—decided to share her hippie-dippie Black chick mama life.