Karoline Heldt, CFCP
Breastfeeding & Creighton Model FertilityCare
Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Use of the Creighton Model System (CrMS) while breastfeeding is near to my heart because I learned the system while in a season of breastfeeding our third baby with the goal of spacing another pregnancy. I was so skeptical that I remember being genuinely shocked when, after several months of use, my cycles returned and I hadn’t achieved a pregnancy. Breastfeeding can be an incredibly intimidating time to learn any method of NFP, CrMS included. Why is that? When a woman nurses her baby, this produces the hormone prolactin. Prolactin suppresses the hormones that stimulate the ovaries to prepare and release an egg. A woman’s fertility can be suppressed for weeks, months, or sometimes greater than a year. This can be challenging because sometimes a woman will have trouble gaining confidence in her identification of fertility and infertility when she isn’t seeing regular menses (her period).
If a woman's ovulation is suppressed, isn’t she infertile? For a while, yes. But approximately one in three women will ovulate prior to their first postpartum menses. And that’s what can make this season challenging. Many women in this season desire to avoid pregnancy and would like to identify that first ovulation prior to menses. With CrMS you can! As a matter of fact, breastfeeding women see the same effectiveness rates for avoiding pregnancy as everyone else.
Not everyone actually wants to avoid pregnancy in their postpartum time. There are a variety of reasons a woman may want to identify fertility to achieve a pregnancy. For some women, their insurance situation may make it more practical to have 2 children in the same calendar year. For others, it may be important to them that they have a sibling for their child close in age. Others may just be eager and ready to grow their family. These are all beautiful choices. CrMS can be helpful in these situations as well because charting in the postpartum time can help to determine the woman’s reproductive health and address any issues she may be having (like unusual bleeding, hormonal imbalances, cervical inflammation) expediently before she tries to achieve pregnancy.
Breastfeeding can be a challenging time to chart, not just due to lack of menses, but because the couple is going through many changes as a family, they feel vulnerable and they are usually sleep-deprived, to boot! Whether your goals for your family are to delay pregnancy, space children, achieve pregnancy, or permanently avoid pregnancy, your FertilityCare Practitioner can tailor your follow-up sessions to your specific health situation and goals.