Archive for the ‘Ecological Breastfeeding’ Category

Natural Family Planning and Ecological Breastfeeding

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

The language that Pope Francis used about family size certainly got attention, but the Church has always taught that a couple does not have to seek to have as many children as they can have, biologically speaking.  As soon as there was scientific speculation that women, like many other mammals, have periodic fertility, the Vatican stated that it would be legitimate for a couple to abstain during the fertile time of the cycle in order to avoid pregnancy—and that was in 1850. The Church teaches that a couple can use systematic natural family planning if they have a sufficiently serious reason.  Such reasons are given in Humanae Vitae.

The Pope also referred to natural family planning which today is highly effective when understood and practiced by couples who have a real need to avoid pregnancy, especially if they use a system that cross-checks two of the fertility signs.

Much has also been made of the Pope’s reference that humans should not produce like rabbits.  In the old days, two babies born within a 12-month span sometimes were called “Catholic twins.”  What is not mentioned in all the discussions on this topic is that God has a plan for spacing our children’s births.  A physiology teacher in the Fifties taught in her high school class that the reproductive cycle ends with breastfeeding.  She was a wonderful teacher.  Of course, as one of her students, I did not fully understand what that all meant.  Unfortunately today everyone assumes that the reproductive cycle ends with childbirth.  Not so, if you take nature as your norm.  Repeated research has shown that mothers who practice ecological breastfeeding experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (no periods), some less and some much more.

We are the only American NFP organization that teaches the Seven Standards of ecological breastfeeding, a form of natural mothering that spaces babies.  The Seven Standards are simply maternal behaviors associated with extended breastfeeding amenorrhea. For example, no bottles, no formula, no pacifiers, no babysitting, no strict schedules, and more.  See the Seven Standards.  The key is mother-baby closeness and frequent suckling.  Some mothers may not be able to practice eco-breastfeeding for various reasons; but among those who do, their appreciation is frequently huge.

World and Church leaders should promote ecological breastfeeding whenever natural family planning is discussed.  Couples should be able to learn this option for planning their families.
Witness: “The Kippleys’ teaching about ecological breastfeeding was instrumental to my conversion, not only to the fullness of Church teaching on marriage, but to the Catholic faith itself.  I was a 30-something, “childless-by-choice”, nominal Protestant when I encountered it and my heart was so changed that I became Catholic within a year, AND became pregnant with my first child.  My husband and I used ONLY ecological breastfeeding to space our three children going forward, and our marriage and family life has been immeasurably enriched.  Bishops who encourage this teaching are truly evangelizing in a desperately needed way in today’s world.” Pamela Pilch
Another witness:  “Since our marriage, my husband and I have used ecological breastfeeding to space our 6 children, you guessed it, 2-3 years apart.  I hope to further your work to share ecological breastfeeding with the world!”  She adds the benefits:  “no menstrual bleeding, no cramps, migraines, PMS, or pads; and no ovulations—for years on end.  My husband and I have been free of what others call the “fear” of pregnancy, that is, free to enjoy each other intimately for years without any concerns or even [a] thought given to preventing pregnancy.  No potentially contentious discussions about whether to try for another baby.  No need to chart.  No need to take temps.  Simply letting God plan our family.  By the time my fertility has returned, we have been mentally in the place where another pregnancy and another baby seemed….well…natural!” Christelle Hagen
Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding

CNML supports Breastfeeding and Natural Family Planning

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Catholic Nursing Mothers League (CNML) is an excellent organization for supporting breastfeeding mothers.  I encourage priests and family life directors to consider having such a chapter in their parish.  All it takes is for one mother to come forward and have the desire to help mothers nurse their babies. The President of CNML, Gina Peterson, gives an example below as to what takes place at a CNML meeting.  She shows how a chapter can encourage and support breastfeeding and help families in the parish live the faith.
A CNML Meeting by Gina Peterson

Have you ever thought of combining your passion for breastfeeding with your love of your Catholic faith? Here is a snapshot of what might happen at a CNML meeting.  It is a true account based on conversations at two CNML meetings:

The four or five mothers arrive and sign in.  Everyone chats a bit and then introduces themselves and their children.  The CNML leader reads the CNML disclaimer and official statement and begins with a discussion starter from the CNML Resource Guide or simply waits for the discussion to enfold.

One mom who is pregnant tells everyone that she just weaned her son a few weeks ago and feels sad knowing this is the end of their breastfeeding relationship.  The CNML leader offers ideas for ways to “snuggle” with him, empathizes with her, and comments that since her son weaned so easily – without tears – that he must have been ready.  Another mother cheerfully notes that soon she will have a new baby to nurse :)

One of the mothers mentions that her baby has been spitting up excessively and she believes it is due to a dairy allergy.  She changed her diet and the baby’s symptoms have improved.  Another mom asks what her baby’s symptoms are and the CNML leader agrees that those are possible signs of food allergy listed in The Baby Book by the Sears family.

A mother asks if she should be giving her baby a certain amount of liquids and possibly cow’s milk now that he is one year old and only nurses a few times per day.  The CNML leader lets her know that she will look it up and then sends her a link to an informative online article on the dietary needs of breastfeeding toddlers.

CNML leader and the mothers discuss how wonderful a king-sized bed is for co-sleeping and that it is a great in investment.

One mother, who has spaced her family primarily through breastfeeding, asks where she can learn NFP.  The CNML leader offers her a brochure for the parish NFP instructor and shows her NFP International’s manual.  Another mother says that her periods returned much sooner than expected even though she was exclusively breastfeeding.  However, her son did start sleeping through the night fairly early on.  The CNML leader describes the seven standards of ecological breastfeeding and gives her a copy of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing.

A mother shares the story of losing her baby just an hour after birth.  She inspires all the mothers with her great faith in God and faith that her sweet baby is in Jesus’ loving arms right now.

One mother mentions how her friend would love to nurse her newborn baby but she has inverted nipples.  The CNML leader reads from a breastfeeding book about how pumping will help keep up her supply until she receives assistance from a lactation consultant.  Also the book describes how to make a homemade nipple everter.  The leader gives the mom her business card to give to her friend, because she is also a volunteer lactation consultant.

A mother asks if there is a certain style of parenting that is uniquely Catholic. The CNML leader recommends the book, Parenting with Grace, by the Popcaks.

At the close of the meeting, the CNML leader hands out gift bags with one decade rosaries and other items, and the mothers pray a decade of the rosary together.
(Gina Peterson, November 26, 2014; CNML website:; Gina is also author of Getting Started with Breastfeeding for Catholic Mothers.)

Natural Family Planning: Breastfeeding and Bed-Sharing

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

When promoting ecological breastfeeding for all its benefits including the natural spacing of births, bed-sharing is taught.  At one of Dr. James McKenna’s lecture, he gave out two bed-sharing papers.  One sheet showed 10 benefits of bed-sharing for the baby and the other, 10 benefits for the mother.  Interestingly, one of the 10 bed-sharing benefits for the mother was significantly highlighted.  That benefit was namely,  amenorrhea for the mother, which he noted “suppresses ovulation thereby increasing birth interval.”

We have been teaching ecological breastfeeding since the late Sixties, and no one has written us saying they lost their baby due to ecological breastfeeding.  The last blog I wrote mentioned how to do safe bed-sharing, and the NFPI website has information on this at the home page at “links.”

I recently heard from a mother who lost her baby while ecologically breastfeeding but she was not bed-sharing at the time. The baby was alone in an adult bed, slept on her tummy, and was developmentally behind.  The mother  obviously regrets leaving the baby alone, thinking she could have been there to help.  Here is part of her correspondence to me:

“I bought your book the Seven Standards of Ecological Nursing, and following your 7 standards helped me remain without periods till my 3rd child was 9 months old. I was so happy I even told all my friends about your book. I used your 7 standards for my 4th child and was still without menstruating at 6 months postpartum when she died suddenly in her sleep.. She loved nursing on demand, co-sleeping and being held in the moby  wrap.  Sadly she died in her sleep Friday, August 1st. In the evening I nursed her to sleep while we were both lying in my big double bed, then I put her sleeping on tummy (the position she preferred sleeping in) near corner of bed which was fully next to the wall. Away from my pillow. I covered her lower body with my quilt. She was dressed warmly and wearing a hat because it was such a cold winter night. (I live in the southern hemisphere). (She used to cry when she was too cold and usually cried when left sleeping on her back). The heater was on and window was slightly open. I left her sleeping peacefully in my bed and went out of the room. A bit later I heard her cry for a very brief short time and stopped crying. I didn’t go to her because I thought she went back to sleep like she sometimes does to resettle herself without me. When I was about to go to sleep I looked for her in my bed but I did not see her. Then I saw a lump under my quilt. I picked up my quilt and found my baby lifeless all the way on the other side of my bed under my quilt. She had never before moved herself such a far distance in her life. She had a constant runny nose and was slightly behind developmentally. No one in my house smokes or drinks alcohol.  I would love to co-sleep with my next baby g-d willing when I will be blessed with one.”  (The writer’s spelling of the divine name is a Jewish custom.)

I use this sad experience to stress one other rule regarding bed-sharing and ecological breastfeeding.  Never leave your baby unattendedKeep your baby with you in your area of activity or sleep, whether the baby is sleeping or not.

During the day if I was tired, I nursed my baby in our bed.  If I awoke, I would bring the baby to my area of activity. Many times I had a firm quilt on the floor in the corner of the dining room and nursed the baby to sleep and I rested there while doing so.  If I had to go downstairs to do laundry, the infant came with me.  In the evening I would nurse the baby to sleep and kept the sleeping baby near us until we retired for the evening and brought the baby to our bed.

Some mothers have written me that their baby awakes and cries because mother is not there.  With mother-baby togetherness, as I have described, this is rare because mother is right there or nearby.  I have always stressed that the key to ecological breastfeeding is mother-baby togetherness.  This togetherness is best for the baby, and it is also best for the mother.

Please read what the SIDS researcher said this month — that bed-sharing is NOT dangerous.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding (print or e-book)