For nine months you’ve experienced your hormones change and fluctuate while the magical creation of new life takes place within your body.
For many, this is the first time in years your hormones function organically, without the influence of hormone altering birth control. The feeling is liberating. That, coupled with the natural protective instincts you feel while breastfeeding a tiny human being, propel your search for a birth control method that will not alter your natural balance and will have zero risks of side effects that could affect your baby.
Fertility and the ability to become pregnant is linked to one main biological event: ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released by the ovaries and is able to be fertilized by sperm. Without ovulation, there is no chance of conception.
During pregnancy, when your body overworked nurturing and growing a baby, the function of ovulation is switched off.
Technically, as soon as your body is no longer hosting a baby, ovulation can begin again and you can fall pregnant. The return of menstruation signals the return of ovulation. In some women, this can occur as soon as six weeks after childbirth. But for many women, ovulation takes a significant amount of time resume.
What Delays The Return Of Fertility?
Although fertility can return again very soon after childbirth, most women's the bodies will naturally suppress ovulation. This gives your body a chance to recover vital minerals and nutrients that were depleted during the nine hard months of pregnancy.
While breastfeeding, the chance of your body suppressing ovulation increases tremendously. The very act of a baby suckling triggers the suppression of the ovulation hormones. It is the body’s way of making sure it has the correct nutrients for breastmilk, and at the same time the baby’s way of ensuring that it does not have a rival sibling anytime soon. The more the baby suckles, the less likely fertility is to return.
Breastfeeding For Contraception (LAM)
There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the reliability breastfeeding as a form of contraception.
Your aunt who conceived while breastfeeding twins and screams from the mountain tops that breastfeeding does not protect from pregnancy was probably not following the rules of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method, better known as LAM.
There are very clear guidelines for how and when breastfeeding can be used as a reliable method of contraception. When followed exactly, this method is 98% effective.
1. Baby must be less than six months old.
2. Your period must not have returned.
3. Baby must be exclusively breastfed. No pacifiers, supplemental bottles, or solid foods can be introduced at any point while using LAM.
4. Baby nurses on demand both day and night, and does not go more than 6 hours between nursing sessions.
If all of these conditions are met, no additional contraception is necessary.
However, this method is only applicable for a limited amount of time, and many women never meet the requirements to rely on LAM in the first place. So finding a long-term natural contraceptive method is an important goal for any new mother.
You might think that contraception is only necessary once menstruation has returned, but it is actually important to use birth control anytime you do not fall within the rules of LAM. This is because your first period is a sign that ovulation occurred about two weeks prior, meaning you could technically fall pregnant from that first release of an egg without ever having a period.
In addition to reliability, choosing a method of contraception that will not affect the quantity or quality of breastmilk, and will not have adverse effects on your health, are your two main goals as you research a new method of contraception.
Natural Family Planning & Fertility Tracking
Fertility Tracking With A Regular Menstrual Cycle
Fertility tracking gives you one key piece of information: when ovulation has occurred. The 5 days before ovulation and the 24 of ovulation are called the fertile window. During the fertile window, you can abstain or use a barrier method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Once you know that ovulation has passed, you can have unprotected sex for the rest of the month without worrying about the possibility of pregnancy.
There are three main fertility indicators: Basal body temperature, cervical mucus and the presence of the LH hormone. The cornerstone of fertility tracking with Daysy is the spike in temperature that always occurs before ovulation. Your Daysy fertility monitor will give you the knowledge of when you are actually fertile — when intercourse could actually result in pregnancy, and when it simply can not.
Fertility Tracking Without A Regular Menstrual Cycle
Most methods of fertility tracking require you to have a regular cycle, so identifying the return of your fertility if you do not have a cycle becomes much more difficult.
Basal Body temperature is can be erratic and mucus consistency can be greatly influenced by breastfeeding. If your fertility has not fully returned, and you do not have a consistent cycle, we recommend using a barrier contraceptive every time you have intercourse.
Once your period returns, you will be able to significantly cut down on your reliance on the barrier by knowing exactly when in the month it is actually necessary.