Way back when I got my CCL book to learn about NFP, I was mystified by the ecological breastfeeding business. Sure, I was planning on nursing my baby, but this was certainly the first I'd heard about pacifiers being pure, unadulterated evil. I finished the chapter convinced and horrified that I would have a baby at a minimum of every 15 months if I didn't follow the Seven Rules. As I've mentioned, breastfeeding turned out to be a lot more complicated than I anticipated and it wasn't long before the Seven Rules were nothing more than Seven Sources of Endless Guilt. And what do you know? I don't ecologically breastfeed by the Kippley rules, but none of my kids have ever had a drop of formula, they've all been nursed the requisite year, and the shortest interval between any two of them is 18.5 months. It's on the tight side, but I've lived to blog about it.
Here's a little rundown of the rules and my impious thoughts for the curious.
- Breastfeeding must be the infant's only source of nutrition – no formula, no pumping, and (if the infant is less than six months old) no solids.
- The infant must be pacified at the breast, not with pacifiers or bottles
- The infant must be breastfed often. The standards for LAM are a bare minimum; more frequency is better. Scheduling of feedings should be avoided.
- Mothers must sleep with their infants – in the same room, if not in the same bed.
- Mothers must not be separated from their infants for more than three hours a day.
- Mothers must take daily naps with their infants.
- The woman must not have had a period after 56 days post-partum (bleeding prior to 56 days post-partum can be ignored).
Here's how ecological breastfeeding really works, and please note that I'm not putting a value judgment on it: it purposely creates breastfeeding super-dependency. If your baby is used to waking up next to the deli counter and grabbing a sandwich every time, before long he isn't going to be able to just roll over and go back to sleep when he smells salami.
But I don't see a problem (biological, ethical, or otherwise) with not conditioning your child in this way if that's not your bag. If I have a baby who sleeps well on his own and puts in an 8- or 9-hour stretch overnight, there is no way I'm going to stop in on my way to bed to wake him up and feed him, and then set my alarm for an encore at 3 to make sure that we're all sufficiently ecological.
Frankly, not going the route of deliberately making your child an every-half-hour-feeder (and again, I have yet to own a baby who would be so obliging) has its advantages for those who have an earlier return of fertility. Many women breastfeed while pregnant. I've done it myself, but only of necessity for the older child. I've been pregnant again by that time at least twice (maybe three times), and nursing and pregnancy is a bad combination for me. But since my kids' worlds haven't revolved around breastfeeding day, night, dawn, dusk, and in the twilight zone, they've all signed off gradually with zero evidence of trauma, purely by my switching to a don't offer, don't refuse policy once the candle is blown out. I've been very thankful that when my children have reached their first birthdays, we've weaned without weeping and gnashing of teeth. Especially the latter.
And, tautology hunters, I always nurse on demand (which usually means by our mutually satisfactory, de facto schedule) until the baby turns one, start solids late, and never push them beyond the baby's interest, even when I am pregnant and very unhappy about nursing. Some girls just get back in the game early, and I'm one of them. The difference is that I don't deliberately inflate demand. So, no, I don't ecologically breastfeed by the Seven Rules. If I did, I'd definitely feel too exhausted for another baby right now. Moreover, for someone who doesn't follow the Seven Rules, I "should" have an earlier return of fertility than I did with babies 2 and 3. Tautology yourself!
(And if you really have lots of time on your hands and are interested further reading, I ran into this while I was working on this post.)