Mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding often do not get their cycles back for significant periods of time after giving birth. Some families even choose to rely on breastfeeding as a form of birth control and swear it is very effective. Others, who conceived while nursing, disagree with them but breastfeeding does, without a doubt, affect menstrual cycles. What can you expect from your cycle after you wean your child from breastfeeding? In my family, we are committed to nursing for what some would call "a long time". The World Health Organization advises breastfeeding for at least two years due to the health benefits both mothers and babies get from this, and exclusively breastfeeding for six months. With my second child, who is currently in the process of weaning, this resulted in being cycle- and period free for 21 months! I was quite sad when my first postpartum period had come round!
Like most women (who are not currently trying to conceive), I view my monthly flow as an annoyance and an interruptions, and I vote for adding a lack of menstrual cycles, possibly for years, onto the list of benefits of extended breastfeeding. This time, I decided to closely follow my cycles. I am not charting my basal body temperature, but I am using an ovulation calendar (you can, too, click on the pink box on the right!) and tracking my cervical mucus. I am pretty sure that my first two postpartum cycles were anovulatory, and they were very short lasting 21 days and 24 days. The next few cycles were definitely ovulatory, and have now reached 28 days! From my experience, the first few cycles after weaning are erratic. It is very common for a woman to have a few cycles during which they do not ovulate too. But if you have recently weaned, your cycles are probably going to return to normal within a few months.