Last time we looked at the fifth standard of ECOLOGICAL breastfeeding which is to sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.
This time we are discussing the sixth standard of ECOLOGICAL breastfeeding which is to nurse frequently day and night and avoid schedules. This standard put me at ease completely because I hate strict routines! I was self-employed for a long time before I became pregnant and I loved the variety in my schedule.
My baby wanted to nurse often in the beginning, and it was so much easier for me to let her do so rather than listen to her cry for me just because it wasn't exactly 3 or 4 hours since she previously nursed. Also nursing frequently helped me to establish and maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship. It has also helped me to remain in amenorrhea because frequent suckling is associated with delayed ovulation. Frequent suckling can vary from one mother-baby relationship to another, anywhere from every half hour to every 2 hours. It is unique to each mother-baby relationship and changes over time. There are some fascinating studies in Chapter 6 of The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding by Sheila Kippley that show the relationship between frequent suckling and delayed ovulation.
I will describe one study of New Guinea people who did not practice contraception or abortion. The babies stayed in close proximity to their mothers day and night, and were frequent sucklers -- every half hour to begin with and then the suckling frequency decreased very slowly as solids were introduced. The average weaning age was 3 and the average birth interval was 44 months with an average family size of 4.3 children. To me that makes sense. To me that is an example of how God has designed the mother- baby relationship, whereby mothers are not burnt out by having children in close succession, and also they are not taking any synthetic contraceptives that harm their body.
Lastly there are some women whose babies are just not frequent sucklers. Sometimes a mother can still remain in amenorrhea because their bodies are sensitive to any breastfeeding. Other mothers can learn Systematic Natural Family Planning if their cycles come back and they have serious reasons for avoiding pregnancy.
Next time we will examine the seventh and final standard of ecological breastfeeding. In the meantime you can look up Kippley's website www.nfpandmore.org and/or www.catholicbreastfeeding.org for more information and support. God bless, Judith!
Disclaimer: I am a breastfeeding mother who has used the Seven Standards and experienced 24.5 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea to date. No claim is made that ecological breastfeeding is 100% effective in avoiding pregnancy. For health issues, see a competent health professional.