The effectiveness of breastfeeding for suppressing ovulation seems directly related to the amount of food a baby gets from other sources. In our culture, in the land of canned formula and readily available baby foods of all kinds, a baby is frequently given bottles in addition to nursing. He is started out on solid food after a month or six weeks. It is important to note that the mothers who endorse breastfeeding as a method of spacing babies give nothing but breast milk for a period of six months, and then, while starting the baby on other foods, continue to breastfeed him for 10 or 15 or more months…Breastfeeding is a means to be considered by couples in our culture who would welcome eight children in 16 years rather than eight children in eight years. (Mrs. James Kenny, Wiesbaden, Germany, America, February 29, 1964) This was the first article on natural child spacing that impressed my husband. After he read this letter when I was pregnant in 1964, he said: “Sheila, you’re going to breastfeed…aren’t you?” This was the first time I considered this issue!
Without any effort on my part, my first three children were spaced 4.5 and 3.3 years. Thanks to ecological breastfeeding. I typically enjoy lactational amenorrhea for 27-29 months postpartum.
We sort of used eco-breastfeeding, but didn’t stick to all the rules 100% (mainly dropped the daily nap one). We didn’t use anything else to space our two children and they turned out to be 25 months apart in age. Now my baby is 18 months and my fertility and periods still have not returned.
I have eco-breastfed 6 out of 8 children. Eco-breastfeeding is really not that complicated a thing. You feed your kid on demand and keep them with you to facilitate that as much as possible and you don’t substitute mother care with various gadgets (pacifiers, formula, early solds to supposedly to make them sleep more at night, and you avoid letting them cry it out). Frankly, pretend you are too poor to do anything else and you’re probably on the right track. Heck, we WERE too poor and that’s always just what we did.
I have been promoting attachment parenting (AP) and ecological breastfeeding by word of mouth. I find myself sharing bits and pieces with friends and family. I have one friend who did quite a turn-around with my encouragement. Her siblings either did not nurse at all or nursed part time for a few months. They also leave their babies for “vacations” when their babies are just a year old. (What kind of vacation is that anyway? You’d have to take me kicking and screaming before I left my baby– even if I wasn’t nursing!) But my friend spent so much time watching me with my babies and listening to me talk about AP that she now “rebels” and nurses her babies in her bed for at least a year and never leaves them overnight.
I am currently nursing my 17 month old without a return of my periods.
Breastfeeding has a very definite effect on child spacing. With my bottlefed children I conceived again at 8 months after childbirth despite other contraceptives. It has been 15 months since the last baby was born. No period yet.
My son nurses on and off during the nights. He is 22 months old and I have not had a period yet.
I thank you for the positive effect you’ve had on my mothering skills. I nursed my first baby for 4 months and quit because of the inconvenience. I nursed my second baby for 22 months because it was so very convenient.
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding