Archive for the ‘NFP Week 2007’ Category

Natural Family Planning: Important Points about Breastfeeding

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

“The birth spacing effects of breastfeeding in women have a profound effect on infant well-being, and breastfeeding still prevents more pregnancies than all forms of artificial contraception.” (“Lactation and Fertility,” McNeilly, Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia, 1997; 2(3): 291-8)

In conclusion to my series of blogs on breastfeeding and natural child spacing during NFP Awareness Week, I would like to make some important points about breastfeeding and natural family planning, points that I have stressed repeatedly over the years.

• Ecological breastfeeding provides natural child spacing. It is a form of natural family planning.

• Ecological breastfeeding is the only type of breastfeeding associated with extended breastfeeding infertility. Exclusive breastfeeding, by itself, is insufficient for this purpose.

• A nursing mother can use systematic NFP successfully once her fertility returns. She does not have to wean her baby.

• Extended breastfeeding and extended amenorrhea are the norms.

• Breastfeeding brings both physical and emotional benefits to both mother and baby. Experts emphasize the importance of the presence of the mother during the first three years of life for optimal emotional development of the baby. Prolonged lactation ensures the presence of the mother. God’s ways are very good.

• For good reasons, the Catholic Church has long promoted breastfeeding.

I encourage readers to do all they can to promote eco-breastfeeding to relatives, friends, clergy, and parish members. If a mother is interested in the apostolate of promoting breastfeeding in her parish and encouraging mothers to nurse for at least a year, please contact Catholic Nursing Mothers League.

If couples are interested in promoting eco-breastfeeding, they can learn and teach the Kippley-Prem way of Natural Family Planning which includes the covenant theology of sexuality, eco-breastfeeding, and various options of the Sympto-Thermal or Cross-Check Method through our online “How-To” NFP manual and it’s free!

Why breastfeed?
When we breastfeed our babies, we legitimately anticipate all the benefits for both mother and baby Some NFP teachers, however, now believe and teach that it is wrong for the mother to use breastfeeding only for infertility purposes. How wrong they are!

It’s hard to imagine a mother breastfeeding only for natural baby spacing. But if she did, so what? There is nothing wrong for a mother to anticipate the many benefits of breastfeeding for herself and for her baby. There is nothing wrong for her to desire and to enjoy the breastfeeding amenorrhea that God built into his plan. In fact, breastfeeding amenorrhea has many benefits in itself.

1) Breastfeeding amenorrhea helps a mother to maintain her store of iron because her iron is not lost in menstruation. Thus breastfeeding offers protection against anemia.

2) A lengthy amenorrhea is a preventive measure or protection against ovarian cancer. Some medical doctors recommend drugs to reduce the menstrual cycles as a preventative measure against ovarian cancer. God provides this absence of cycles naturally through his breastfeeding plan.

3) The extended amenorrhea helps the mother emotionally to meet the needs of the baby she currently is mothering. We have met mothers who have had three babies in three years and know how hard this has been on such mothers.

4) Most importantly, a lengthy amenorrhea is good for the next baby’s health. Studies show that the best spacing for the health of the offspring is 2 to 2 ½ years between babies. Again God’s plan offers this spacing naturally through breastfeeding.

Many mothers enjoy eco-breastfeeding. We were surprised by the number of mothers who came by our booth at the recent La Leche League International 50th Anniversary Convention in Chicago and expressed their appreciation for this form of mothering.

May all those involved with family planning, especially natural family planning, do all they can to promote breastfeeding and its health benefits for both mother and baby, and may they recognize and teach that these health benefits also include an extended amenorrhea through breastfeeding. Extended breastfeeding and extended amenorrhea is the norm in God’s plan.

The special kind of breastfeeding to be taught for spacing babies is eco-breastfeeding. Eco-breastfeeding is an excellent NFP option.

World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated August 1-7, 2007. I will do daily blogs on the importance of breastfeeding and its related research during that week.

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: TheQuestion-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)

Natural Family Planning: Specifics of Natural Child Spacing

Friday, July 27th, 2007

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

To draw attention to Natural Family Planning Week (July 22-28, 2007), I am blogging daily on breastfeeding and natural child spacing.

The Specifics of Natural Child Spacing
My contribution to the promotion of breastfeeding and natural child spacing has been the teaching that there is more to natural child spacing than exclusive breastfeeding, that there are certain mothering practices that make a significant difference in prolonging natural infertility.

Exclusive breastfeeding is insufficient by itself to maintain amenorrhea. There are many mothers who experience an early return of menstruation while exclusively breastfeeding. I learned this while listening to mothers at La Leche League meetings for a dozen years. Studies on the Lactational Amenorrhea Method also prove that about 50% of mothers have an early return of menstruation while exclusively breastfeeding.

In the early 1970s, I emphasized not only the concept that you need to do more than exclusively breastfeed but also that you need to be with your baby, that mother-baby togetherness plus the frequent and unrestricted suckling are the keys to natural child spacing.

In the first and second editions of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing (1st, self-published; 2nd, Harper & Row), I inserted a questionnaire at the back of the book for mothers to fill in and return after they had completed their breastfeeding experience. The survey had detailed questions about their mothering practices, their use of any form of natural family planning or birth control, and the return of their first bleeding, spotting, or period. This collection of surveys eventually led to published research.

In our original research John and I focused on mothering practices in our survey-questionnaire. In those days the criteria were:
No pacifiers used
No bottles used
No solids or liquids for the first five months or exclusive breastfeeding for five months
No feeding schedules
Presence of night feedings
Presence of lying-down nursing

We later added a seventh standard that summarized the previous six and these practices became known as the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding. We called this type of breastfeeding “ecological breastfeeding” to show that it involved a special mother-baby relationship. We also called this form of baby care “natural mothering.” In the second edition of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: The Ecology of Natural Mothering (Harper & Row, 1974) and the first edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning (Couple to Couple League, 1972), ecological breastfeeding and natural mothering were terms already in use.

John and I isolated each Standard to see if any one standard had more of an impact on maintaining infertility than any of the others. What our research showed was that each Standard was important in maintaining breastfeeding infertility and that no Standard was sufficient by itself. It was for this reason that I often used the example of a “breastfeeding infertility” pie when giving talks. The pie is made up of seven pieces. Each piece is important. A mother interested in breastfeeding infertility needs more than just one piece of the pie and definitely more than just exclusive breastfeeding. She needs all seven parts or standards.

The Seven Standards define what kind of mothering is involved with ecological breastfeeding, and I placed a stronger emphasis on the Seven Standards in the fourth edition of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing in 1999. I also noticed that this strong emphasis eliminated the counseling calls from mothers who said they were doing ecological breastfeeding but had an early return of menstruation. The Standards are also helpful when teaching natural child spacing.

What are the Seven Standards? The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding are these:
1. Do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life; don’t use other liquids and solids.
2. Pacify your baby at your breasts.
3. Don’t use bottles and pacifiers.
4. Sleep with your baby for night feedings.
5. Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.
6. Nurse frequently day and night, and avoid schedules.
7. Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.

For those teaching or using the Seven Standards, what are the common practices that shorten breastfeeding infertility?
• Offering solids to a baby less than six months of age.
• Offering other liquids as a substitute for breast milk during the early months of
• Using bottles.
• Using pacifiers. Pacifiers can shorten the time of mother’s infertility.
• Not taking a nap once during the day when the baby nurses to sleep. A short nap gives the mother a better disposition during the remainder of the day.
Some medical persons believe the natural spacing mechanism works best
when the mother is relaxed and at rest.
• Not sleeping with the baby during the night. Babies who sleep next to
their mother at night nurse more often and longer than babies who sleep
separate from their mother.
• Not providing opportunities for non-nutritive suckling.
• Encouraging the baby to go a long time between feedings or having the baby
on a strict nursing schedule.
• Encouraging the baby to sleep through the night. Going a long time without
nursing during the night may end the mother’s infertility.
• Leaving the baby at home when mother goes out.
• Relying on other equipment or gadgets or family members to keep the baby
occupied so the mother can delay nursing the baby. Or the mother walks, rocks, or tries to distract the baby to avoid nursing the baby at that time.*
(*taken from online NFP manual, Part 3, pages 9-10)

The Seven Standards
Nursing mothers who follow the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding have one of the best natural family planning methods. It’s so natural that it is hard to see it as a method, but today people like to talk in those terms. For instance, any vaginal bleeding can be ignored during the first 56 days in determining fertility or amenorrhea if the mother is exclusively breastfeeding or doing ecological breastfeeding.

Most importantly, the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding provide extended natural infertility. During the first three months postpartum, the chance of pregnancy occurring is practically nil if the ecologically breastfeeding mother remains in amenorrhea. During the next three months postpartum, there is only a 1% chance of pregnancy if the ecologically breastfeeding mother continues to remain in amenorrhea.

The Six Standards
Sometime between six and eight months of age, the baby begins to take some solid food. As the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in their new “Breastfeeding Policy Statement” (Pediatrics, 496-506, February 2005) exclusively breastfed babies “may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age” (p. 499). Once solid foods are begun, there are only Six Standards operating for ecological breastfeeding. Breastfeeding infertility usually continues, however, because the amount of nursing is usually not decreased at first and the frequent, unrestricted nursing continues.

Our two studies show that American nursing mothers who followed these practices or Standards averaged 14.5 months of amenorrhea. (J. and S. Kippley, “The Relation between Breastfeeding and Amenorrhea: Report of a Survey,” JOGN Nursing, Nov.-Dec. 1972, 15-21. Also “The Spacing of Babies with Ecological Breastfeeding,” International Review, Spring/Summer 1989, 107-116.) These and other studies on breastfeeding infertility are available at our website.

H. William Taylor
Later studies concerning ecological breastfeeding were done by H. William Taylor; he and his wife were NFP teachers. His latest research confirmed that ecological breastfeeding certainly spaces babies. Mothers who nursed in a cultural way had a median time of 8.2 months before their first menses, while mothers who nursed more in line with ecological breastfeeding had a median time of 12.8 months before their first menses. (“Continuously Recorded Suckling Behavior and Its Effect on Lactational Amenorrhoea,” Journal of Biosocial Science, 1999, 31: 289-310) In this study he also established a sub-group of mothers whose practices were close to the Seven Standards. That is, Taylor eliminated those mothers who returned to work outside the home, who did not sleep with their baby at night, who introduced solids before six months, and who nursed less than a median of 9 times a day in the first three months. Thus he ended up with a group of mothers who were following a more ecological breastfeeding program; these 55 mothers had a median delay of 15.9 months before their first menses. (Personal correspondence after previous research was submitted to Cambridge University for publication, May 27, 1998)

In my opinion the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding should be included in any discussion or teaching on natural family planning. Worldwide, breastfeeding is used much more than systematic NFP to space children naturally. Since the beginning of the human race and up to the early 1900s, breastfeeding was the only option in accord with Catholic teaching for spacing babies except total abstinence.

Breastfeeding as a form of NFP should be given more attention by health and church associates throughout the world. It is an excellent form of natural family planning.

Tomorrow: Points to be made about breastfeeding related to natural family planning

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: TheQuestion-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)

Natural Family Planning: Research in the Home

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

“God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

To draw attention to Natural Family Planning Week (July 22-28, 2007), I am blogging daily on breastfeeding and natural child spacing.

In my blog yesterday I explained how God led me through certain events to give me a basis for the ministry of promoting natural child spacing through breastfeeding. His guidance became even clearer by the changes that took place in my mothering practices. These changes were an important step in my discovery of breastfeeding as a natural baby spacer.

Why did my mothering practices change?
While my research began in the medical library, the real “research” began in our home. I am convinced that God had a hand in the weird events that developed about a year before my research began. He was teaching me there was another way to take care of our second baby. Of course, I did not see it that way at the time. I don’t remember the order of these events, but will mention four major events that occurred early after childbirth with our second baby that changed my, and later John’s, views about parenting.

First, I was very much a part of our culture. I was adamantly opposed to sleeping with the baby. Our first baby had a crib in a separate room. I remember becoming very upset when I came home and found my sister and our first baby, now older, sleeping together on the top of our bed. My La Leche League leader encouraged me to sleep with both my babies as I am sure I often complained to her about how tired I was after each birth. I refused to follow her advice. For some reason I thought sleeping with a baby was very dangerous.

One afternoon I was nursing our second daughter before placing her in the crib. I awoke three hours later to find her still at the breast. I was so exhausted I had fallen asleep on the top of our bed. What surprised me was how rested I felt and our baby was safe! That afternoon was the beginning of a different kind of parenting for us. For me sleeping with the baby allowed the baby to nurse at will and it gave me the rest I needed.

Co-sharing sleep is an advantage when breastfeeding. People who are opposed to having baby in bed with the parents don’t realize the dangers of nursing a baby during the night in a chair. Oftentimes the mother falls asleep and awakes scared because she almost dropped the baby. This happened to me. Sitting up also restricts the nursing due to the mother’s fatigue. It did for me. I was tired and tried to get the sleeping baby off the breast as soon as possible so I could get back to bed myself. Or the room was cold and I was anxious to get back into a warm bed. There is a big difference in the amount of suckling at the breast when the mother sits up at night to nurse as contrasted to nursing the baby in bed. In addition, more babies die in their own cribs. A SIDS death while co-sleeping is almost unheard of if the situation is normal and proper precautions are taken. By normal situation, I mean the baby is with the mother and not the boyfriend or some other person, and the nursing mother is not a smoker and is not drugged or morbidly obese or incapacitated in some way.

Second, in the early Sixties the University of California dental faculty at San Francisco recommended only one brand of pacifier for good oral health. This pacifier, however, caused a rash around our second baby’s mouth, so I discarded it. With our first baby we used a pacifier constantly. We did not use a pacifier with our last four children. It’s unfortunate today that most parents believe that their baby needs a pacifier. What babies really need is that extra suckling from their mother’s breast.

Third, God led us to a new Catholic obstetrician with our second baby. He was faithful to Church teaching and encouraged the use of the thermometer for family planning. He did not recommend the thermometer to me however, because he knew I wanted to breastfeed. He told me to breastfeed exclusively and to call him when I had my first period. It was July and hot at the time. I remember asking him if I could give the baby water. His response was that my milk was adequate for the baby. He stressed that I was not to give the baby water or anything else.

His advice was so different from the first Catholic obstetrician I had who told me I would have a period within three months after childbirth no matter how I nursed my baby. I thought this first doctor was correct because I did have a period within three months after childbirth with my first baby. At the time I did not realize that this doctor was not properly informed. For several reasons I had to search for another Catholic obstetrician with the birth of our second child. I am very grateful for his “exclusive breastfeeding” advice. Our baby took to solids gradually at eight months of age and my first period returned at twelve months postpartum.

Fourth, while I nursed our first baby frequently, I used an occasional bottle. Exclusive breastfeeding our second baby brought changes. I never used a bottle for her or our other children. In addition, my mothering lifestyle changed. I went from mother-baby separation to mother-baby togetherness. If I had to be somewhere, I picked up our baby and went. We also went from the lifestyle of using babysitters for our first baby to never using a babysitter for our other babies. When we began our family, my husband believed it was best to expose the baby to many babysitters. He too changed and felt baby was best with mother. In America you are unusual when you adopt a lifestyle of mother-baby togetherness. This major change in my mothering, taking the baby with me, was completely new to me; I knew no one else who did this. But it was a necessary step toward breastfeeding infertility.

With our first baby, my periods returned within three months after childbirth. With our second baby my first period returned when she was a year old. Why the difference? I attended La Leche League meetings while nursing my two babies. At those meetings you learn to nurse your baby often day and night in order to have an ample supply of milk. The main difference was that I had changed how I cared for our baby. With exclusive breastfeeding and baby-skin irritation from a pacifier, I quit using bottles and pacifiers. Taking the baby with me whenever I left the house also allowed for more nursing if needed. In addition, co-sharing sleep allowed for frequent and unrestricted nursing all during the night as needed. The main benefit for me was that nursing was one thing I could do in my sleep and I was well rested in the morning.

I am very grateful I learned a natural form of mothering and began to realize it is the kind of mothering that one does that primarily influences whether or not a mother will experience natural child spacing.

For those wanting scientific support and safe guidelines for co-sharing sleep, go to “Links” at our website (“Safe bedsharing for mother and baby” and “Reactions to the AAP’s Policy Statement on SIDS”)

Tomorrow: The Specifics of Natural Child Spacing

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: TheQuestion-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)