Archive for the ‘Ecological Breastfeeding’ Category

Natural Family Planning: Breastfeeding, A Fertility-Awareness-Based Method

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

In discussions about birth control and especially about natural family planning, a frequently used term is Fertility-Awareness-Based Methods (FABMs).  These “methods” use a woman’s natural signs of fertility and infertility to become aware of the fertile and infertile times of the menstrual cycle.

The signs usually mentioned are these: cervical mucus, basal body temperatures and the  presence or absence of menstruation.  The signs almost always omitted are the cervix changes and breastfeeding amenorrhea—the lack of menstruation while breastfeeding.  Those promoting FABMs refer to some studies back to the 80s but ignore ecological breastfeeding research published in the 80s and 90s.  

The failure to list Ecological Breastfeeding may be based on a misunderstanding, that is, not recognizing the importance of the absence or presence of menstruation while breastfeeding.  The reality is that the absence of menses while breastfeeding is an excellent sign of infertility.  When it is used for fertility awareness, it is called either the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) or Ecological Breastfeeding, and each has its own rules. When mothers follow the rules of LAM, they may experience up to six months of post-partum amenorrhea.  This method has been well researched over the years and is very effective when followed.

Ecological Breastfeeding also has its rules called the Seven Standards.  The frequent nursing of eco-breastfeeding may extend the amenorrhea for many months and even well into the second year.  The absence of menses is certainly a sign of infertility.

When menstruation returns while breastfeeding, that’s a sign that fertility has returned or will soon return.  In a low percentage of cases, the first ovulation occurs before the first menses.  Mothers eager to achieve pregnancy, however, may have to wait on nature and experience a few cycles before a pregnancy is achieved.  Pregnancy is easily recognized by the temperature sign when it remains elevated for three weeks.  Observant mothers can use the mucus and cervix signs to detect ovulation prior to menses.

Our two studies (1972 and 1986) had the same conclusion: American ecologically breastfeeding mothers experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea.  Two mothers have translated my breastfeeding books, one in Italian and another in French (observed on the home page of  The Italian mother experienced 37 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea; the French mother, 16 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea.  One critic claimed that the mother who experienced 37 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea must have been in premenopause.  Not so.  She was 33 when this third baby was born and was looking forward to another pregnancy.  I want to stress that their situations are not unusual according to nature’s norms, but are normal and healthy.

All couples have a right to learn about the benefits of Ecological Breastfeeding as well as its natural birth spacing.  All the health benefits of breastfeeding plus the spacing benefit are maximized by Ecological Breastfeeding. 

The natural spacing benefit of ecological breastfeeding should be taught in all natural family planning (NFP) courses.  Every woman and every man have a basic human right to be informed about this part of God’s order of creation.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding

Why Breastfeed for Two Years?

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

The WHO and UNICEF recently (November 2018) listed the benefits for breastfeeding during the second year of life.  The benefits are listed below.

“Children who are not breastfed at 12-23 months of age are about twice as likely to die as those who are breastfed in the second year of life.”

Average breast milk intake at 12-23 months contributes “approximately 35-40% of the young child’s energy needs.”

Continued breastfeeding “during infections reduces the duration of illness and improves nutritional status.”

“The protection of breastfeeding against childhood overweight is strongest for those breastfed for more than one year.  In the U.S. among low-income children, those breastfed for at least 12 months were 28% less likely to be overweight at four years of age than those never breastfed.”

“Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces breast cancer by 26%.”

“Continued breastfeeding delays the return to fertility, contributing to longer birth intervals in the absence of contraceptive use.”

“Breastfeeding for more than 12 months reduces breast cancer by 26%.”

“The reduction in ovarian cancer for breastfeeding longer than 12 months was 37%.”

“Each additional year of lifetime duration of breastfeeding was associated with a 9% protection against type 2 diabetes.”

Why breastfeed for two years?  “Because continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond saves lives and promotes the health of both the mother and baby.”

All of these benefits are reasons to practice Ecological Breastfeeding.  In the American culture, mothers who do not do Ecological Breastfeeding (or something close to it) will rarely have a milk supply after 12 months.

Sheila Kippley

Natural Family Planning: Ideal or Norm

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Occasionally one reads that  “NFP is promoted as an ideal option for couples.”  For 50 years I have seen the use of only natural methods of conception regulation treated as an “ideal” with the inference that such an ideal cannot be attained by normal married couples.  The reality is that chaste NFP is not an “ideal” in the sense of something nice but necessary, anymore than marital fidelity is such an “ideal.” NFP is the norm when couples have a sufficiently serious reason to postpone or avoid pregnancy.

Also, what is usually not taught is Ecological Breastfeeding both for the tremendous benefits for baby and mother and also for its natural spacing of births.  Seminarians, priests and bishops deserve and need to know this reality.  They would do themselves a great favor by obtaining a copy of our NFP manual, “Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach.”  I recommend the coil-bound edition because it lies flat so easily.

Chapter 1 in this manual is an exercise in evangelization.  Chapter 6 is devoted to Ecological Breastfeeding.  I regret to say that no other organization teaches this.  Every year, researchers publish new benefits of breastfeeding, and Ecological Breastfeeding maximizes these benefits because many of them are dose-related.

When we founded the Couple to Couple League at St. Odilia’s parish in the fall of 1971, we included the teaching of Ecological Breastfeeding as part of our standard instruction.  I think that the enthusiasm that many couples had for this contributed greatly to the spread of CCL throughout the 70s.  Unfortunately, in its self-styled “Extreme Makeover” of 2007, the CCL management completely dropped that teaching of ecological breastfeeding along with the teaching of the covenant theology of the marriage act.

Couples cannot choose to practice Ecological Breastfeeding unless they are taught about it.  That’s the simple reality of the first principle of psychology.  That’s why seminarians, priests and bishops need to learn these things so that they can later encourage and teach them. Some couples have learned that they can use ecological breastfeeding alone to space the births of their children. It is God’s plan for families.

John F. Kippley