Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Breastfeeding, Fertility, Conception and Contraception

Note to Some Readers:  This post contains details about me that may make you uncomfortable.

Have I ever mentioned that I am completely over-the-top crazy about pregnancy, birth and newborn babes?  Especially my own?  But I even love babies when they aren't mine!  When I see a woman in her 3rd trimester I start to have heart palpitations.  When I read a really good birth story I weep because I am jealous.  When I am close to a newborn I want to breastfeed it myself!

Yes, it's an addiction.  I probably need professional help.

But actually, until now, I've been able to satisfy my addiction by continually having babies.  Four kids in 84 months is a pretty good way to fill up my yearning for pregnancy, birth and newborns.  Which brings me to a very significant problem:  I've just become fertile again.  We aren't ready for another baby for at least 3.5 years.  And we have no idea what to do about it.

Let me explain.

My first daughter, Anna, was conceived just 9 days after I stopped taking the birth-control pill.  After she was born I was pretty grossed out by how heavy I was, so I went on a serious diet and ended up getting my first period when she was just 4 months old.  Fortunately I was able to achieve amennorhea again (for 6 months) by increasing breastfeeding.  My daughter Holly was conceived the first time I ovulated when Anna was 11 months old.  When Holly was 12 months old I conceived again (without having a period first), but I had a very early miscarriage.  When the bleeding stopped I conceived my daughter Jasmine. 

Jasmine was an amazing nurser and she had some serious food sensitivities so breastmilk was her primary source of nutrition until she was around 18 months old.  At 20 months we got help for her condition and she began to eat more food.  My son Julian was conceived when Jasmine was 21 months.

So as you can see, we are not having any fertility issues.  Actually, we do believe in using birth control:  I obtained a diaphragm from my doctor after Anna was born.  However, I've found from experience that it is not a very good choice for us....mostly because it has lived sight-unseen in the medicine cabinet for the last 7 years.

So now it appears that our Ultra-Fertility is actually a problem.  (I swear I can conceive just by looking at Partner-Guy from across a crowded room.)  We simply can't have another baby right away and my plan to use breastfeeding to prevent conception is apparently not going to work.

And there is actually a really good reason why we can't have another baby right away:  In 3 years Partner-Guy will have a 14-month paid leave-of-absence from his job and we intend to sell our house and spend the year travelling across Canada.  We feel it just wouldn't be fair to our other children if we bring a baby on the trip because the baby will occupy most of my attention.  So we intend to wait until we come back. 

Which brings me to the million-dollar question:
How are we going to prevent conception for the next 3+ years?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.


  1. Are you familiar with the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility? I have been the principles outlined there, in combination with a barrier method when I'm fertile, and so far so good. I'm really glad I read the book, as even if I'm not actively trying to prevent pregnancy, I am now much more in tune with my body. That's all I've got! :)

  2. Patti, thanks so much for sharing this post! I really appreciate your honesty about this important topic. I have had a similar pregnancy-breastfeeding-fertility cycle over the past five years (including a miscarriage as well), and now we also would like to wait a bit longer to decide if and when we may want a 4th child. We're going with the diaphragm for now as it just seems to be the least invasive option as this point. -Kerry

  3. what about a cervical cap? or Natural Family Planning (charting your cycle etc)? Do you know a local midwife, they may have some useful information on this topic. I totally understand the Uber Fertile Baby Obsession thing...I live there myself. So far muchkin interruptus has been an excellent b.c. However, I used the NFP method for several years with excellent results...we only got pregnant when we got lazy. there are some great books out there though I can't think of the titles right now. :)much luck to you.