Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Menstrual Cycles and the Mommy: How I Enjoyed 3 Years without my Little Friend

Say hello to my little friend.

It’s been three long years and Auntie Flo has decided to grace me with her visits and oh, she does go on and on! It seems she’s catching up on all the gossip she’s had to hold back for the past thirty-six months. She’s a rather large pain in the butt and no one was really happy to see her slide out of the taxi, suitcase in hand.

Hmm – does my math hold up? I first stopped getting my period when I was blessed with my first pregnancy. Had baby… breastfed for seven and a half months (then he started to chew, but that’s another post.) Promptly got pregnant again before my period had a chance to triumphantly return. Had second baby. Breastfed for eight and a half months… letsee… Sweetpea is ten months old now… ah, never mind. The math is unnecessary and unpleasant.

Naturally a women doesn’t get her monthly cycle when she’s pregnant (a bonus) as it’s simply not necessary. The bun is already baking. I was fortunate to have no period during both my stint’s as baby’s personal moo-cow altho’, anecdotally, I know a Fertile Myrtle that got her “moon time”, cramps and all, despite breastfeeding her son.

It’s all highly individual, as far as my understanding goes. A little bit of googling yielded this informative bite.

Exclusive breastfeeding in the first four to six months of your baby's life often delays the return of your period. (Exclusive breastfeeding means that all of your baby's nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at your breast.) In a survey of women who exclusively nursed their babies, it was found that the menstrual cycle normally resumed at 14.6 months postpartum. (Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, Sheila Kippley)

Several factors work together to delay resumption of the menstrual period. Prolactin, a hormone released during breastfeeding, has a powerful effect on fertility. High levels of Prolactin suppress the return of the menses. Simply put, the frequency (number of times put to breast) and duration (time spent nursing) play the most important role in suppression of menstruation. The mother's age, and the number of children she has, along with her individual body chemistry also seem to be factors. In general, older mothers, and mothers with more children experience a longer time without resumption of their period. Enjoy your break from the monthly cycles!

I do remember my doctor telling me that once baby is sleeping the night and you get a big chunk of time without having to nurse to watch out, else you might find yourself pregnant again – even if your little friend didn’t get a chance to warn you of your new fertility with a short visit.

As our family is complete it looks like I have to put up with Aunt Flo and her big mouth. It seems like a waste tho’. Having my body set up shop every month for another baby I’m never going to have. Ah, the joys of femininity… or as a friend recently put it “Womanhood’s a bitch.”

Accept my apologies if you got to the end of this and feel like it should have been filed under "Too Much Information."

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