Soon after Beau was conceived, I wrote a post entitled Nursing, Fertility and Baby #2. For comparison’s sake, I wanted to do a similar post concerning the journey to Baby #3.
To briefly sum up my first post on these interrelated topics, I couldn’t keep up my supply or satisfy James Michael’s (Baby #1) appetite with pumping at work. I began supplementing one bottle a day when he was 8 months old and very quickly my supply tanked. By 9 months he was completely weaned, and it wasn’t until then that my fertility returned, and the next month Beau was conceived.
After Beau, we knew we wanted at least one more child, but wanted to wait until Beau was closer to 2.5 years old before Baby #3 made his/her debut. I wanted to regain my strength in the gym, get a little sleep after such a rough winter of sickness and enjoy margaritas this summer 🙂 But as every pregnancy, and subsequently child, is different, I should have realized that every postpartum experience varies as well.
Breastfeeding can act as effective birth control if your baby is less than 6 months old, you nurse on demand and your menses haven’t returned (lactational amenorrhea). This is one of the best side effects of nursing, if you ask me 🙂
At my 6-week checkup after Beau, my OB recommended the mini pill, which is a birth control compatible with breastfeeding. I declined, not really wanting to take any hormones and was planning on trying the Natural Family Planning method once my menses returned (breastfeeding delays menstruation for many women). But we managed to ‘catch the first egg’ and never made it to that point.
A couple months ago, I found out that a woman with a baby Beau’s age recently discovered she was pregnant again. She was nursing her baby, so it made me realize that I should probably start testing every month or so until my menses returned and I could track my cycles. The next day, I took a test, and low and behold it came out positive. I immediately went out and bought a digital test to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me, and it was positive as well. I had no idea how pregnant I was, but figured I was fairly early on since I was still feeling well.
Looking back, I realized I overlooked a few signs that pointed to pregnancy. The week before I tested, I noticed that I was very sensitive when Beau nursed, but chalked it up to him being more aggressive as he cut new teeth. I also felt a little crampy and slightly bloated the week before, but just thought that meant my menses would be returning soon.
Comparing the two journeys to Baby #2 and Baby #3, I find their paths fairly interesting. After James Michael (Baby #1), James and I had talked about me staying at home after we had Baby #2, and as a result, I wanted to conceive again as soon as possible. But pumping at work was stressful and took a toil on my body, and that may be why my menses didn’t return until after he weaned.
With Beau (Baby #2), I rarely pumped after being forced to pump three times a day at work with Baby #1. Not only did he rarely take a bottle, but he was also a big eater and was still nursing in the middle of the night when I conceived Baby #3.
Beau has been a great nursling from the start. Despite his appetite, he’s quick and efficient, and would go back to sleep easily in the middle of the night even if he did eat every three hours. I had a better supply with Beau than I ever did with James Michael, and despite that was fortunate to never get mastitis or even get engorged. My goal was to nurse Beau until he was one year, because it was a natural relationship and staying at home with him made it easy for both of us.
But this little surprise of Baby #3, now fully embraced and much anticipated, threw a little kink in even the best laid plans. I’ll explain just how our breastfeeding journey ended in the first trimester update soon.
What has been your experience with nursing and fertility?