Archive for the ‘Ecological Breastfeeding’ Category

Pope Francis’ Encyclical: A Significant Omission

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

In his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis offers contemporary Western cultures some worthy challenges.  The extent to which optional human activity contributes to climate change is open to debate, but it seems to me that it is just a matter of common sense to conserve our non-renewable natural resources.  Some of it can start right within churches.  It just seems wasteful that I have to wear a jacket in an exclusively cooled church.

Pope Francis covered many subjects, but it seems to me that his non-treatment of breastfeeding, and especially ecological breastfeeding, is truly a significant omission.

The purpose of this encyclical was to discuss “the present ecological crisis” and then “to offer guidelines for human development.” (15)  I thought of ecological breastfeeding when the Pope Francis discussed pollution related to health because pollution “causes millions of premature deaths,” (20) and causes accumulated waste of harmful substances and filth (21). But he said nothing about the number one cause of death worldwide for children under five, namely the absence of breastfeeding.  That is why the World Health Organization and Saint John Paul II encouraged mothers to nurse for at least two years.  About 1.5 million babies would be saved each year if mothers exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life and continued to breastfeed into the second year (Superfood for Babies: How overcoming barriers to breastfeed will save children’s lives by Save the Children, 2013).

Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of the following diseases for babies and children: allergies, asthma, bacterial meningitis, botulism, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, ear infections, eczema, gastroenteritis, leukemia, autoimmune thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, necrotizing enterocolitis, obesity, respiratory tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome, ulcerative colitis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and urinary tract infections. That’s 22 health advantages of breastfeeding for the child, and every year new benefits are discovered.

Breastfeeding also reduces the incidence of the following diseases for the mother: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, lupus, and osteoporosis.  More current research for both mother and baby are found at the categories for Breastfeeding Research at the right side of this blog.

Regarding waste, if mothers worldwide breastfed for two years there would be a great reduction in the production of formula, bottles, pacifiers, baby food and related jars, and feminine products, and a consequent reduction of waste and filth.

The Pope mentioned “reproductive health” (50).  The best reproductive health that God gave humankind since the beginning of time is nursing according to the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  These Standards are simple maternal behaviors that encourage frequent and unrestricted nursing.  Ecological Breastfeeding postpones the return of menses and fertility for 14 to 15 months, on average.  The Pope and the Church need to promote ecological breastfeeding to the world.  Governments sometimes stress the need for “birth control” so that there is a spacing of births for the health of the mother.  God has already given humankind a natural way to space babies, and it’s free.

There is no need to buy formula or the baby food products.  Pope Francis speaks of boycotting certain products.  I think of just not purchasing products, such as formula, etc.  Also one can avoid buying baby cards which picture baby bottles or pacifiers on the card.

The Pope also spoke of his concern for crime and violence.  Many in the past have written about the breastfeeding relationship as a crime-preventive factor; they have noted the importance of the first three years with the mother as crucial for building a healthy human being, but there was nothing about the crucial first three years in this encyclical.  Pope Francis spoke of our need to be fully present to someone (226) and that we need one another (229) and the importance of close relationships.  The extended breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby exemplifies all of these.  He mentioned the “abandonment of the elderly” but unfortunately did not mention the abandonment of the very young which is common in our society where babies and little ones are left in the care of others.

The Pope says we need to change the ecological crisis and educate others plus the Church so everyone responds to a new lifestyle.  We need “leadership capable of striking out on new paths” (53) and we need to be concerned for all people.  We need “a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life.” (189)  Yet earlier the Pope states that “the worldwide ecological movement” has been ineffective, lacks interest or has opposition.  I would say the same about my Catholic Church.  We have promoted the benefits of ecological breastfeeding for over 45 years  and basically the message has been ignored by the Church, except by a few.  So I challenge the Pope to take up the cause.  We will have a healthier Church as a result and a better quality of human life.

What is so disappointing about this significant omission is that the proper inclusion of ecological breastfeeding could have influenced millions of mothers to adopt it.  I’m quite ignorant about how many people will turn up their thermostats during hot weather, and how much that will help the macro-environment.  But the research is solid and repeated over and over—breastfeeding is best for babies and mothers, and the frequent nursing with the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding maximizes all the benefits of breastfeeding and, on average, it delays the return of menstruation and fertility for 14 to 15 months.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood

Natural Family Planning & Ecological Breastfeeding: The Seven Standards Do Work

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Almost all mothers can enjoy the natural spacing of their children’s births with ecological breastfeeding.    God in His wisdom gave us a way to nourish and nurture our children and to space the birth of our babies.

Mothers who remain with their babies and nurse frequently day and night by following the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding will usually have, on average, 14 to 15 months without any menstruation.

Research has shown that frequent and unrestricted nursing day and night provides natural infertility after childbirth, and that it is the short intervals between feedings that keep the reproductive system at rest.  These short intervals are common among those mothers following the Seven Standards.  The Seven Standards are simply maternal behaviors associated with an extended period of natural amenorrhea.

I have permission to quote from a breastfeeding survey which arrived recently.  The mother lives in Sweden and practiced the Seven Standards with her first baby.  Remember, I mentioned above the importance of having short intervals between feedings.  She and her husband wanted another child, so they lengthened one interval so that her fertility would return.  Here is what she said:

“Baby #1 was 18 months when my husband and I really wanted to have another baby.  I was still in breastfeeding amenorrhea.  I went to visit a friend and stayed away for 5-6 hours, knowing Baby would be emotionally well with Dad.  It was a sudden change in nursing frequency which quickly brought back my period.  I was fertile right away after that and conceived.  I deliberately “broke out of” amenorrhea so to speak.  Previous to this separation, I had never gone so many hours without nursing.  My breasts were full and Baby nursed happily on my return.  It was the sudden change that brought back my fertility.  I made sure it wasn’t gradual because we wanted to conceive.

“After this one experience, though, I continued nursing like before day and night.  After getting pregnant I kept nursing, but during the pregnancy the nursings got more and more infrequent.  Baby said it tasted funny/yucky.  It was painful and uncomfortable for me to nurse and my milk supply dropped.  The longest Baby went without nursing during the pregnancy was 5 days, the 5 days prior to delivery.

“Once in labour I nursed Baby and realized I would probably tandem nurse.  After the birth of Baby #2, Baby #1 wanted to nurse frequently again.  For the first 2 months postpartum, Baby #1 nursed up to 3-4 times a day.  At 3 months postpartum Baby #1 nursed once a day, in the mornings (first thing!).  At 7.5 months postpartum, Baby #1 would skip his daily nurse once in a while until he stopped altogether at 9.5 months postpartum.  He was 3 years, 7 months and 2 weeks old when he nursed for the last time!  He still sleeps in our room, but in his own bed.”
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Mothers are encouraged to print out the breastfeeding survey, complete their experiences with ecological breastfeeding, and return to NFPI using the address on the survey.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor

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.
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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
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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
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Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding