(Thank you so much Michelle for sharing your experience with us! If any moms out there would like to share their experience using NFP postpartum, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
After having a baby, there are lots of challenges that have nothing to do with monitoring your fertility. For those of us who use Natural Family Planning (NFP) we are blessed to add these to the challenges of establishing nursing relationships, sleeping routines, juggling other children and taking care of ourselves.
The good news is that using NFP is part of taking care of ourselves, so we get to double up our efforts in that regard, as we learn about our bodies after baby.
I don’t get asked for advice all that often, but if I were asked what was one thing I would tell a woman going through postpartum it would be for her to understand that her body after a baby will not be the same as it was before the baby. Even if she’s blessed enough to fit back into the clothes she wore before ever becoming pregnant, her mucous patterns and her hormones will likely paint a different picture of fertility after having a baby. And each new baby, along with aging, can bring along new and different challenges.
Because I formula-feed my children, return to fertility is almost immediate. When formula-feeding the baby, a woman can expect her first menstrual period anywhere from 6-8 weeks postpartum. In order to avoid pregnancy, it is most likely suggested that the couple abstain from sex during those weeks. Sex drive varies by couple, but often those first few weeks are consumed with getting to know the baby and establishing some routines and sleep patterns, so abstinence isn’t necessarily at the forefront of the couple’s mind. But once that first period occurs, it’s a good time to pick up the chart, dust off the monitor and begin tracking cycles and symptoms in order to avoid or achieve (whichever the couple has discerned).
When you’ve had 9-10 months off from charting, it can be kind of a relief to get back into it. As soon as the first menstrual cycle starts, I begin charting that and then do a “hard reset” on the monitor to have it ready to start tracking hormonal changes. A “hard reset” is recommended because the woman’s body may not return to the same patterns it had before the baby. The monitor will ask for tests starting on CD 6 for the first six cycles and after that, will establish a day to begin the fertile window based on those cycles.
One challenge I experienced after baby #5 was a severe estrogen/progesterone imbalance that caused excessive mid-cycle bleeding. This was remedied quite easily with a regimen of Prom.etrium for 10 days every cycle post-Peak. The cycles where the imbalance occurred were incredibly difficult and frustrating. The Monitor kept registering HIGH fertility, but I never got a PEAK reading. The bleeding was frustrating because, really, who wants to be bleeding when you’re not supposed to be? Working with your doctor to closely monitor things like this will ease the frustration.
Just in case people need to know how to do a “Hard Reset” on the ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor, here are the instructions I received (and followed) from the doctors at Marquette.
Please Read all instructions over before attempting to re-set the monitor:
1. With the monitor OFF, place a clean unused test stick with the cap on (remove plastic cap from one end and snap it onto the other end of stick) in the test stick slot of the monitor.
2. *Make sure that it snaps in.*
3. Press and hold the “m” button. Continue pressing the “m” button while turning the monitor on. **NOTE: Do not take finger off “m” button until directions say to do so.)
4. It will show you the “remove the test stick” sign. (a flashing test stick with an arrow pointing right) Continue pressing “m”.
5. Keep pressing the “m” button and in about 20 seconds, you will see a screen full of symbols. The screen will look as if it is going crazy and will be full of pics.
6. Remove the test stick first and then QUICKLY release your finger from the “m” button. All of the memory should be wiped out.
7. Your screen should display a flashing “m” and one or two dashes. If it does not, it will probably show a “1” and a non-flashing “m”. If it does, then you need to repeat the process so it shows the flashing “m” and dashes.
8. Start using the monitor on cycle day 1 as per the instruction booklet.