Natural Family Planning: Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

From a French mother:  I will always present your book [The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding] as a document that promotes breastfeeding as a wonderful way of mothering. It’s also a way for spacing babies, but this is a “collateral advantage!”  Here’s my own experience as a breastfeeding mother.  I followed the 7 standards (without knowing your book) not in order to space the birth of my babies (especially because I had my first daughter at 28 years old; thus quite late) but in order to succeed with my breastfeeding.  It has worked so well that my daughter, who is almost 4 years old, still suckles but only in the morning. I went 38 and a half months without menstruation!  My future  newborn is for February.  Our two children will be spaced 4 years apart. I know I gave my best for my first child.

An Italian mother sent me three breastfeeding surveys; her babies were born when she was ages 27, 30,and 33.  She did not follow the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding with her first baby and was working 30 hours a week.

With her second baby she cut back on her job (2 days a week; 5 hours each day).  She exclusively breastfed for 7 months and took a daily nap for 14 months.  The baby slept in a cot near her bed, then the baby was moved into the children’s room when a year old.  However the baby often ended up in the parents’ bed until age 30 months.  First menstruation occurred at 29 months+2 weeks followed by a pregnancy.

With baby #3, she practiced ecological breastfeeding.  A daily nap was still ongoing during this survey.  Baby slept in parents’ bed at night for 32 months.  Exclusive breastfeeding occurred for 6 months+2 weeks.  No bottles, no pacifiers, and no job.  The baby was left in the care of another person once a month at age 2.5 years when the mother had a dinner date with her husband.  First menstruation occurred at 37 months+4 days postpartum.  In her experiences she relied exclusively on breastfeeding amenorrhea; a child was always welcome.

Discussion:  Our society is unfamiliar with the natural spacing of babies via breastfeeding.  If you take nature or God’s natural plan as the norm, for a breastfeeding mother to go 1, 2 or 3 years without menstruation is perfectly normal.  Some mothers’ bodies are more influenced by the breastfeeding, and some are less influenced.  Whether a breastfeeding mother experiences one year postpartum without any menstruation or 3 years without menstruation….all these experiences are normal.

Because our society including many of our churches support mothers who work outside the home, the message of breastfeeding and natural spacing is often ignored even if systematic NFP is taught.  I remember one Protestant mother fighting her church to not provide daycare because it sends the wrong message.

For interested parents, articles at the NFPI website teach the importance of the mother during the early years of life.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding

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