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Thread: Nursing and return of fertility

  1. #1

    Default Nursing and return of fertility

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm one of those moms who says, "I never thought I'd still be nursing....." I am happy that nursing has worked out so well for my soon-to-be 3 year-old daughter and me such that we are still nursing, and I have been able to commit to child-led weaning. (I am also, incidentally, thrilled for the information from LLLI that has supported me and helped me feel "normal" as we continue on this journey that seems so strange to so many people we know.)

    But, I am now looking to experienced moms for some encouragement. My period has not yet returned, and I think I am in the camp of women who will not re-gain their fertility until they are done nursing altogether. I am anxious about this. I am almost 40, and I had hoped to have one more child after my daughter was born. I'm not sure it's in the cards at this point, but I still hope for the possibility. Yet, I want to be responsive to my daughter's needs, and the prospect of weaning seems really stressful. She is a very attached little girl, and nursing is still part of her nighttime, morning, and naptime. I am starting to despair that she'll never want to wean (!), and that I'll never be fertile again.

    I guess my questions are (1) will children *really* wean on their own if we leave it to them? and (2) has anyone else experienced such a delayed onset of fertility related to nursing?

    I know there will be some who say I have to get tough and just wean, but I'm not at that point right now. I'd really appreciate any other advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Nursing and return of fertility

    The answer to question #1 is yes. Children really will wean on their own if you let them. The main issue with self-weaning is when it will happen. A lot of kids will happily nurse for 4-5 years, and a few would even go longer than that. So the child's timetable and the mom's timetable... They just might not match all that well.

    The answer to question #2 is also yes. There are women for whom fertility does not return for years, and some won't get it back until their children are nearly or completely weaned.

    Speaking as an older mom myself, I think it might benefit you to take a very hard look at your goals and your feelings. I see 4 possible scenarios for you.
    1. You don't wean, but your fertility returns and you get pregnant and have another child.
    2. You don't wean and your fertility doesn't return and you don't have another child.
    3. You wean, your fertility returns, and you have another child.
    4. You wean, your fertility doesn't return, and you don't have another child.
    The way I see it, scenario #1 is ideal. Everything works out without you having to do anything or make any tough choices! It's the other 3 scenarios that are difficult. If you wean, will you feel sad/guilty/angry/whatever about it? Would weaning be a worthwhile price to pay if it meant your current baby got a sibling? Will you feel worse if another baby doesn't come along even though you weaned your first baby? If you don't wean and there's no second baby, will you feel like you made the wrong choice? There's no right answer to any of these questions- it's all about how you feel.

    If it were me, I would start examining my feelings, and I would also take some practical steps to determine what my body was up to. I'd go and see my midwife or obstetrician and start a discussion about what you should expect, possible steps to take. I'd start charting- if you haven't read Toni Weschler's book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" I really recommend it as a primer on all things related to fertility and charting. It's possible that charting could reveal a problem, or it could also reveal that you're already well on your way to getting your fertility back.

    Are you using any birth control at all at this point? And if so, what are you using? I know this is a long shot, but some moms don't realize that hormonal contraception can prevent a woman from having a period. So if you were using, for example, Mirena or the minipill or something, that could be preventing you not only from ovulating and conceiving, but also from menstruating. And I get the feeling that you'd welcome evidence of your cycle at this point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Nursing and return of fertility

    DS turns 2 next week and I have zero signs of fertility returning anytime soon. I know this may not be terribly relevant because we're a year behind you, but I thought I'd chime in just in case this was reassuring.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Nursing and return of fertility

    My DS will be 2 in a few weeks and I just started spotting again a couple weeks ago. The return to fertility can take awhile and that is normal. (In my case, it may also be related to the fact that I am using the Mirena, who knows). I fully agree with everything Mommal said Many women have their fertility come back while still nursing, but some don't have it return until they wean. Your daughter will wean on her own eventually, but it is possible that by that point it will be too late for you to give her a sibling, since you are almost 40 now. You have to weigh what's most important to you and decide what you want to do; we can't decide that for you. Personally, in your shoes, if I really wanted another baby and was worried about my age, I think I would wean. But that's me. You have to do what feels right to you and you're the only one who can make that decision. Will you be okay with it if she ends up being an only child?
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 38 months ; now trying to wean. for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Nursing and return of fertility

    Thank you for all of this advice. I have been examining my feelings for a while, but I have not taken a serious step towards trying to figure out what's going on with my body in a deeper way. I am not using any birth control, and when I have brought up my concerns to my primary care doctor or ob/gyn, they've dismissed it as lactational amenorrhea. That said, I haven't been into the office in a while and have been afraid to call for an appointment just to address this. I have to stop worrying about what they'll think when they hear I'm still nursing. And, I'll get the Toni Weschler book. Thank you, again!

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