Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus

Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus
Nursing Madonna (wikimedia commons)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

NFP Awareness Week - Ecological Breastfeeding

It is Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week 2014.  Did you know that Ecological Breastfeeding is a form of Natural Family Planning?  We all know how wonderful breastfeeding is for mother and baby; there are hundreds of benefits!  However, the child spacing effects of ecological breastfeeding are great, too!

So what exactly is ecological breastfeeding and how is it different from the way many women breastfeed?  It is a lifestyle of breastfeeding and mothering that tend to contribute to months or years of natural infertility.  It involves nursing frequently - day and night, giving baby only breastmilk at the breast for about the first six months, avoiding pacifiers and bottles, comforting baby at the breast, sleeping with baby for a daily nap feeding and at night following safe cosleeping guidelines, and avoiding schedules and separation from baby.  Statistically speaking...."70% of ecologically breastfeeding mothers experience their first menstruation between 9 and 20 months postpartum," according to Sheila Kippley of NFP International.

The above-mentioned Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding are all fine and dandy, but have any real women successfully spaced their families through this special lifestyle of breastfeeding and mothering?  YES they have! Here are some of the personal success stories:

"I had 7 months, 13 months and 9 months. Basically, I was infertile until the day they started solids and would have my period approx 12 days later. Although with this pregnancy (pregnancy #4) I wasn't able to get pregnant until I fully weaned my son at about age 2 1/2. I got pregnant less than a month later with my next ovulation. I got pregnant with #3 while I was nursing #2, when she was around 20 months of age and nursed until about week 23 of the pregnancy. I only had 3 periods between when my fertility resumed at 13 months of age and getting pregnant at 20 months, she was my truest "ecological" nurser and very intense at it."

"With my first 3, my fertility returned at 15 months postpartum. I would nurse them to sleep, lay them in their crib and then get them when they woke the first time, then they would sleep with me in our bed the rest of the night. With my 4th, I didn't use a crib and she slept with me all night long and my fertility didn't return until 20 months. With my 5th, I wore him in slings a lot more and also didn't use a crib, we are at 24 months with no return of fertility yet!"

"I just successfully charted the return of my fertility 3 years and 2 months since my last period."

"I had a late return to fertility at 25 months due to breastfeeding (even with returning to work)..."

"I've gotten my cycle back right around the two year mark with each of my 3."

"I have five children and have had between 21 and 30+ months of infertility with each one due to
breastfeeding.  I am currently still in amenorrhea - thus the 30+ months I just listed."

"With my second I used Eco-breastfeeding fully until he was one year old.  And then we did everything but the nap. My cycles returned at 21 months postpartum."

"My breastfeeding infertility was 12 months,14 months, 17 months and 15 months."

"Ecological breastfeeding has felt like nothing more than a style of mothering that came naturally to me. I take my babies with me everywhere till about one year old, I don't bother with any pacifiers or bottles, nursing provides all of their calories till they very gradually start eating solids at their lead (which has been around 10 months), and we cosleep till at least a year and a half. I have felt so satisfied that parenting this way that warms my heart has, as a natural consequence designed into our bodies by God, given me lactational amenorrhea for 15 months, 18 months, 12 months, and 16 months after my four babies thus far."

"In my case with a low milk supply, I used a supplementer for a year with formula at the breast and still got one year of no cycles!  Other babies were 12-14 months with no cycles."

"I have 4 children and practiced ecological breastfeeding with all.  I had 19 month, 16 months, 12 months and 3 months of infertility.  For my last child, it was a shock to have my cycle return so early as I nursed him the same as the others.  I later realized it was probably a thyroid issue that caused my cycle to return – what a drag!  Ecological breastfeeding and the related infertility is such a gift!  So thankful I learned of it from Sheila’s book, which I read back when my first baby was just a few months old."

"My breastfeeding infertility has been 14 months long with 4 children in a row! I am nursing my fifth child but because I slept like a rock a few nights and she didn't ask to nurse those nights my cycle is showing signs of trying to return at 3 months old. The last two weeks though she bumped up the night nursing and I'm noticing it starting to be suppressed again."

"27 months, 24 months, 19 months, 21 months, 24 months.  Frequency is the key.  And I found (by pure accident, b/c I didn't know Eco breastfeeding even existed when I started) that nap-nursing & sleep-nursing (letting baby suckle for his whole nap (whether I napped or stayed awake reading/typing/etc. didn't seem to matter) & both of us sleeping while he nursed on and off all night) was one of the biggest keys to frequency...I believe that attempting every principle of Eco breastfeeding you can is worthwhile even if you don't get the very extended lactational amenorrhea, because doing whatever you can is still good for baby and still good for you, physically, especially."

"With my first 4 babies, I worked part time, but breastfed and pumped milk on the two days a week that I worked. We followed all the other guidelines for eco breast feeding. My fertility returned at 6 months, 5, 2, and 5 months. I was home with my last two babies and fertility returned at 8 months after each.  It is a very delicate thing. After my third baby, I returned to work two months after he was born, and I got my period the next day. With my youngest who is now 8 months, I attended a birth as a doula, so was gone for about 10 hours, my period returned within a week of that day."

For encouragement in the ecological breastfeeding lifestyle, go to:

NFP International blog posts about ecological breastfeeding

CNML blog posts about ecological breastfeeding

Natural Mothering

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother

Info about ecological breastfeeding at the CNML website

CNML yahoo group

CNML Facebook group

CNML Facebook page

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