Where nature and authentic nurturing meet.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” - G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fertility Tracking while Lactating

The term "fertility tracking" brings to mind an image of me, dressed in a safari suit and wielding a machete in one hand and butterfly net in the other, tiptoeing ever closer to the elusive ovum. 

It's been 6 weeks since my little daughter was born, and I'm about to start monitoring my fertility again.  It's tricky in the post-partum period for breastfeeding mothers.  The breastfeeding keeps the progesterone levels up, but the estrogen is trying to get through as the body considers re-establishing the monthly cycle.  
Fortunately, I have a wonderful little gadget called the Clearblue Fertility Monitor.  In the USA it's approved by the FDA for achieving pregnancy purposes only, although a similar gadget called Persona by the same company is approved in the UK for avoiding pregnancy also.  

The time post-partum when regular cycles have not yet been re-established is one where traditional methods of natural family planning that rely on temperature (BBT) checks and/or cervical fluid checks are not so efficacious.  This is where an extra data point like the monitor readings really come in handy.  It's also good if, even after the re-establishment of cycles, the production of cervical fluid is all over the place.  This was the case after my last pregnancy, and it was a pain in the bee-yoo-tee-tee.  In addition, mothers of infants are not often getting the kind of regular and lengthy sleep required for adequate temperature monitoring.  

Huzzah for technology!  I am into a natural approach, whenever reasonably possible, to things that affect my body, like family planning and childbirth.  I am also a gadget girl, so this monitor caters to both preferences.  Technology can be used for both good and evil, or if you prefer, in positive and negative ways.  Flooding the body with synthetic hormones for non-therapuetic purposes doesn't strike me as positive.  

A non-invasive test that supports the ability of women to know and track their own fertility as it is each month?  Thank you, science.  :-) 


  1. Gah, had a post and it got deleted. Anyway, I know nothing about the monitor, so I'll be interested to hear your take on it. :-) Mucus observations can be effective postnatal, though not for everyone. I absolutely know what you mean about the annoying mucus patterns with returning fertility postnatal. Yes, I get annoyed with the very method I teach at times. ;-)

  2. I agree that some people will find fluid obs sufficient, which would be nicely convenient. No need to go overboard if what you're using does the job nicely.

    However, the efficacy of NFP methods (BBT-tracking, sympto-thermal and obs-only-based, like Billings or Creighton) take a dive in the post-partum pre-return of cycle phase, if, as most women and couples are at that stage, one is aiming to avoid pregnancy.

    With that in mind, in such a situation I think it would be beneficial to incorporate as many data points as possible. This would help ensure greater accuracy and flow on to a better efficacy figure. The number of surprise pregnancies would probably still rise in comparison with charting during normal cycles, but not as steeply.

  3. Can't argue with that. :-) I know I kinda wanted a cross-check as my fertility was returning. I actually didn't need one, but for peace of mind, it could've been nice. I occasionally cross-check with an ovulation microscope, mostly because I'm a geek and think the ferning pattern is cool.

  4. Re: the ovulation microscope.
    I've heard the patterns are difficult to interpret. Haven't tried it myself. How do you find it?