I am a midwife, childbirth educator, lecturer, doula, and natural mother of eight children. This is not a medical reference; I do not proclaim to give medical advice. Anything stated here is from personal experience, research, study, and opinion. Each woman has the responsibility to do her own research, consult with her own medical team, and make her own decisions about pregnancy and birth.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Natural Pregnancy Spacing

 Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

A sister recently asked me about my own experiences with natural spacing of pregnancies.  I thought this might make a good post for others as well.  As a mother of eight, it is probably easy to guess that I don't employ the use of pharmaceutical birth controls.  But that wasn't always the case.

Insha'Allah, I will have a guest writer (either here or on Saudi Life Motherhood) in the coming weeks who will discuss contraceptives in more depth.  I always enjoy sharing the work of guest writers.  Please let me know if you are interested in contributing.  Now on to my post...Natural Pregnancy Spacing...

It is important to note that this post is a recount of my personal experiences.  It is not meant to be advice for anyone else.  Each women must weigh the risks and benefits in her own situation, consider her medical condition and life situation, and most importantly consult with her partner as well as her medical team before making contraceptive decisions.

There are so many forms of birth control available today.  Before my first pregnancy, I used several different contraceptive methods (birth control).  Condom use was the least convenient; but also tampered the least with my health and reproductive system.  I don't know the pharmaceutical names of the various pills I've taken, but I've had my fair share of different ones.  I even used Depo-Provera injections; which I took for about two years.

At that time of my life, I was not "ready" for children, although I was married.  I enjoyed the convenience of the Depo injections as it involved only a fifteen-minute trip to my gynecologist once every three months and was so much easier than remembering to take a pill every day.  

I also liked the side effect of the Depo, as it suppresses menstruation.  Not having to worry about my period seemed so carefree and convenient.  However, looking back, it's really quite scary to realize that I voluntarily allowed an injection that interferes so greatly in my reproductive system that it completely stops menstruation.  

Yikes!  I really was so trusting of all things medical (and naive) in those days.  In fact, it took about seven months for my period to return after ceasing the injections and about a year and a half to get pregnant.  

At that time I was young and not Muslimah.  I thought I had total control over the planning of my life.  Of course, without knowledge of Allah, I had no trust in HIS plan or HIS promise of provision.

[Translation of Qur'an 6:151] 
"...and do not kill your children for fear of poverty - [for] it is We who shall provide sustenance for you as well as for them..."
[Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Number 2045]
"Narrated Ma'qil ibn Yasar:
...(the Prophet) said: Marry women who are loving and very prolific [producing many offspring], for I shall outnumber the peoples by you."

I am among the fortunate:  not only was I guided to find Islam, but I was also able to recover from my contraceptive use and have many children, alhamdulelah.  For many others, the inability to get pregnant after contraceptive use is far longer, or even permanent in some cases, audthobillah.

The sister who prompted this post had asked me about using the lactational amenorrhoea method.  This means relying on the delayed return of menses while nursing to prevent the next pregnancy.  Let me say here and now, you can get pregnant while nursing.  Even if your menses has not returned.

For those of you who have not had children, did not nurse, or simply did not experience lactational amenorrhoea (delayed return of menses while nursing), I will simply say that it is a nice perk to nursing.  It truly is carefree and convenient to not have to worry about your period and know that it is NATURAL (as opposed to pharmaceutical) suppression, subhanAllah. 

However, the obstetrician for my second birth said it best when he told me, "Use the lactational amenorrhoea method only so much as you are not devastated should you find yourself pregnant again." 

For me nursing seems to delay my next pregnancy by 8 to 12 months, but not much beyond that.  This is true even though I did not experience my menses while nursing seven of the eight children.  Here is my history with this, to help you understand:

1.  My menses returned 12 months after my first birth, at the same time baby self-weaned from my breast.  I became pregnant during the month after this one menses.

2.  My menses never returned after my second birth, as I became pregnant while nursing when the baby was about 10 months old.  I continued nursing her until about 15 months, when she self-weaned.  Interestingly, I did not realize I was pregnant with the third until she kicked (about four months pregnant) since I had no classic signs of pregnancy (no menses missed, and was still nursing so no sore breasts).

3. My menses never returned after my third birth, as I became pregnant while nursing when the baby was about 10 months old.  I continued nursing her until about 16 months, when she self-weaned. 

4.  My menses never returned after my fourth birth, as I became pregnant while nursing when the baby was about 18 months old.  I continued nursing him until about 23 months, when I weaned him.

5.  My menses returned about 12 months after my fifth birth.  I did not become pregnant as I was divorced from my husband very soon after his birth.  I continued nursing him until about 26 months, when he self-weaned. 

6.  Strange to me, my menses returned right away after my sixth birth.  I just attributed that to having a new husband, but the strange pattern did not recur with our subsequent children.  I became pregnant while nursing when the baby was about 16 months old (I probably would have conceived sooner, except that my husband and I were residing in different countries at the time and I only saw him every few months).  I continued nursing him throughout the entire pregnancy until about 25 months, when he self-weaned.  He tandem nursed with his younger brother for about one month.

7.  Menses never returned after my seventh birth, as I became pregnant while nursing when the baby was about 8 months old.  I continued nursing him until about 15 months, when he self-weaned.

8.  My menses has not returned since the birth of my eighth baby, 9 1/2 months ago.  I am not pregnant, that I know of, but wouldn't be surprised if I turn up pregnant in the next few months or so.  Allahu alim.

So in conclusion, it is entirely possible and probable to conceive while nursing, even if the menses has not returned.  It is not a method to rely on, however, it does seem to allow for "adequate" spacing of pregnancies.  At least in my case and in my opinion of "adequate," and Allah knows best.


  1. asalaamalikum, good read mashallah.. would just like to share that i got pregnant twice while nursing and both the times within 6-8mths of the last birth... i just got my period once after the delivery and then i conceived again both times.. so even nursing didnt delay anything for me :-) .. and allah is the best handler of affairs..

  2. Wa alaikum asalam, ya Ukhty Samreen,

    Thank you for your time in reading and commenting. May Allah bless you and your growing family.

    I would love to share your birth story on my blog, insha'Allah. If you'd like to write it please email me at: aisha@saudilife.net

    Best regards,

    -Aisha, Natural Mom

  3. Assalam u Alaikum

    A very good article. I am myself a mother of one daughter Alhamdulillah, I got pregnant when she was 10 months but due to some medical problems i suffered a miscarriage. After that I conceived again when my daughter became 22 months but this time also I had complications, it was an ectopic pregnancy.
    With my experience i say that it is all truly in the hands of Allah when he blesses us with children. And there is no such blessing as a healthy baby.

  4. Wa alaikum asalam, ya Ukhty Saadia,

    Thank you for your time to read and comment. Even more for sharing your experience with us. Allah truly is the best of planners! Children are in deed a blessing and it is all to Allah when and how many we shall have in our care.

    Dua for you and your family, ya Ukhty. May Allah bless and protect you all.

    Best regards,

    -Aisha, Natural Mom

  5. Assalaamu alaikum

    I have found breastfeeding very useful and effective for delaying pregnancy alhamdu lillah.

    After the birth of my first child, my menses returned 13 months after the birth and I got pregnant on the next cycle alhamdu lillah.

    After the second birth, my menses returned after 18 months.

    After the third, fourth, fifth and sixth births my menses returned after 12 or 13 months and alhamdu lillah I have been able to breastfeed all my children except for the first for at least 2 years. The first I breastfeed for only 18 months due to the pregnancy.

    1. Wa alaikum salam, Umm Maryam,

      Masha’Allah, your children are truly blessed that you have given them the best start in life with exclusive breastfeeding! May Allah reward you for your care and trust in the Creator’s perfect design for feeding your babies!

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences.

      May Allah bless your family.

      Best regards,

      -Aisha, Natural Mom

  6. Assalaam alaykum all. Just stumbled on this blog.
    About lactational amenorrhoea:
    It"s most effective within 6months of exclusive breastfeeding.
    Once your menses have resumed, you are in effect, ovulating so can get pregnant.
    It's effectiveness wanes once a child doesn't suckle for up to 5 hrs as is applicable when the infant commences complementary feeds.
    However, some mothers have sworn by exclusive BF but start ovulating before the 6th month.
    In essence, LAM works optimally within the 1st 6mo with exclusive BFeeding.

    1. Wa alaikum asalam,

      JazzakAllahu khyrn for sharing and clarifying for the readers. I really appreciate your support and feedback!

      Best regards,

      -Aisha, Natural Mom

  7. Allahumma baarik! Jazaakumullah khair for sharing. I'm breastfeeding my first baby and he's 15 months, my period returned 6 months after givin birth, then 6 months later, then a month and half later. Just very irregular. I am not pregnant as yet. However it happens alhamdulillah for Allah is the best of Planners!