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breastfeeding and ttc - a bit of a dilemma

(6 Posts)
Clovissa Sun 08-Nov-09 18:36:39

Hello, I'm currently exclusively breastfeeding DS (well apart from the occasional bottle when I'm exhausted or out of milk). He is a plump and healthy eight weeks tomorrow.

DP has just agreed to ttc again as soon as possible. The heat is on as I turned 42 last week.

If I stop breast feeding DS how likely is it that my periods will come straight back? I did ask my hv but she seemed to think I didn't need to give up BF and could get pregnant anyway. I'm not sure, at my age I'll need everything on my side.

I feel terrible even contemplating stopping breastfeeding DS, but I also have to think how wonderful it will be for him to have a brother or sister.

It would be great if anyone could share their experience of getting ovulating after giving up breastfeeding.

Many thanks,

Grendle Sun 08-Nov-09 19:10:56

It varies a uge amount from woman to woman. Some people get their periods back 4 weeks after birth despite exclusive breastfeeding. For others at the other extreme they have to stop completely (even if their baby is a toddler) before their fertility returns. For most women it's somewhere in between. In fact, one of the commonest times for periods to return is after solids are introduced at 6 months.

The bigger the gaps between feeds and the more of things other than breastmilk that a baby consumes, the more likely the mothers fertility is to return. Exclusive breastfeeding round the clock with no other solids or liquids, no big gaps between feeds and no periods is up to 98% effective as a contraceptive, i.e. only 2 out of 100 women will get pregnant under those circumstances. Change any one of those factors and the contraceptive effect reduces (which is why it is often not recommended as contraception and lots of people know someone who fell pregnant while bf -these conditions are rarely all met by UK mums).

Making a big sudden change to breastfeeding pattern is recognised as something more likely to trigger the return of fertility than gradually cutting back. Hence why solids is such a common trigger. for me with ds1 I first ovulated a few days after stopping expressing at work just before he had his first birthday. With dd it was when she stopped feeding so much at night fairly suddenly at around 14 months.

There's more info on Kellymom here that you might find useful.

I'm sure others will talk to you about their personal experience of weighing up the needs of one existing child vs another potential child, especially when age comes into play. It's such a personal decision. Small age gaps are sometimes hard work and there's also the consideration of putting your body through another pregnancy when you are also caring for a young baby. This is extremely physically demanding, especially as in the first year of your baby's life your body is still recovering from the last pregnancy.

You might also want to take into account that the biggest health benefits from breastfeeding come from the period when milk is the most important form of nutrition before solids are introduced, i.e. first 6 months, and that the good effects of breastmilk are generally dose-dependent, i.e. the more breast milk the better.

If you conceive, then feeding during pregnancy is possible (I'm currently doing it for the second time), but with a baby under 1 year for whom milk should be their main source of nutrition, and even mroeso under 6 months supplementation may be required, as in the majority of women the pregnancy hormones reduce the amount of milk produced, sometimes v significantly.

Good luck with your decision smile.

Clovissa Mon 09-Nov-09 11:07:02

Grendle thanks so much for a great post.

I wonder if I could cut right down to ttc and then, if I'm lucky enough to conceive, still carry on feeding DS at least partly?

KristinaM Mon 09-Nov-09 11:27:48

i have only my personal experience to add to grendle's excellent post

i had DS1 at 42 and exclusively Bf him until he was 6 months, when he started solids.

about this time he started sleeping a little longer at night, about 5 hours i think ( sorry can't remember exactly)

i had my first period when he was 7 months and conceived on my next cycle, just before my 43rd birthday.I continued Bf until i was 6 montsh pg and he was 15 months old. Now I regret having stopped bf him so soon.

I know its worrying when you are "older" but age isn't everything IYSWIM. If you conceived your last baby quite quickly then the signs are good that you will be able to do so again

I have to say that i found the 18 month age gap quite demanding, esp as i ended up with a Cs for Ds2 which made school runs etc difficult. I woudln't liked to have had a 12 month gap!!

good luck smile

Clovissa Mon 09-Nov-09 15:45:13

thanks Kristina, that's really helpful. A big part of me says, relax, enjoy DS, a couple of months won't make so much difference.

Many congratulations - your story is an inspiring one for me right now.

KristinaM Mon 09-Nov-09 16:36:54

oh i forgot to say...DS2 was a ..ahem...surprise blush...we weren't TTC and were actually using contraception most of the time ( i know, i know... clearly not very well blush blush)

In fact I was so tired I am pretty sure that we didnt BD around then. but the evidence that we did is nearly four years old now smileso i guess you cant argue with that

sorry if this is TMI, I just wanted you to get the picture that we weren't testing temps and all that jazz, it just ...ahem....happened

i hestitate to mention it on mumsnet as i know it must irritate the hell out of all the MNers struggling to conceive in their 30s
blush blush

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