Saturday, May 8, 2010

Breastfeeding, PCOS, and fertility

I am a proud La Leche League member, and (eventually) future LLLI leader. Apparently it is common to not start cycling again until more than a year post-birth if you're still breastfeeding, especially if the baby is not sleeping through the night. (My son isn't, unfortunately, even at approaching 10 months...) I had issues with getting my period anyway before getting pregnant, thanks to my PCOS. We are still breastfeeding, and cautiously introducing solids. (There are a lot of allergies in the family, so we need to watch for possible reactions, especially when introducing foods that commonly cause allergies. I also agree that breastmilk is the best basis for nutrition through the end of the first year, and that solids are more for acclimation and learning than actual nutrition before a year. I would rather give our son a variety of foods in smaller quantities instead of lots of the same few foods. So, we're not rushing the solids.) So yeah, I'm not cycling yet, and odds are at this rate, it'll be at least another 2-4 months before we even have any chance of getting pregnant. Plus, I had a reaction that could be termed an allergy to Clomid (one of the easiest and cheapest fertility drugs to try), so I can never take it again. So if I have to do fertility treatments, we would almost certainly have to go straight to injectables, and maybe even straight to injectables plus IVF.

So, where does all that leave me, as far as any chance of getting pregnant without significant interventions? Who knows... it's frustrating. I just keep hoping that somehow I have a "suitable ovulation" (sometimes with PCOS you can ovulate, but have the egg not form correctly, so it's very unlikely to fertilize), we actually do the deed at the right time, the pregnancy "sticks", etc. Given my challenges, the odds seem long. But then again, I know women with half a reproductive tract, or were told they were in premature ovarian failure years before, or who did fertility treatments that didn't work, etc. who managed to get pregnant on their own and carry a baby to term. So I keep hoping that somehow it'll work out for us without treatments, but who knows. And at our ages, we can't wait forever before going back to the doctors.

Breastfeeding is known to reduce fertility, especially in the first 6-12 months. But I value breastfeeding for the first year or more, and don't want to rip off my son by forcing weaning on him, when given my fertility challenges it may not significantly increase my odds of getting pregnant.

That said, we're working on getting our son to sleep better at night, without doing cry it out methods. We're trying to get him to be better at settling himself when he wakes up at night by putting him down when he's half asleep instead of fully asleep. Since he's teething, it also means having to make sure we address his discomforts more aggressively so we have better odds of him staying asleep. The next step - whenever that comes - is to start limiting his nighttime feeds, and eventually eliminating them. My loose plan is to try to help him to sleep better (and as a consequence, feed him less often at night, hopefully only 1-2 times most nights), and by around a year, hopefully eliminate night wake-ups entirely. But we'll see what actually happens. Once he sleeps through the night (around the same time as his solids intake will be increasing), my husband and I can try to sleep better ourselves, and have more time for activities that could lead to another baby. :)

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