Ecological Breastfeeding. It is common in the NFP movement these days to talk about evidence-based claims or statements. This certainly applies to the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.
When Sheila was pregnant with our first baby born in mid-1964, she took the advice of her childbirth instructor and attended La Leche League classes, later becoming a Leader. At each meeting, the Leader would review the LLL talking points about breastfeeding including the spacing benefits of “total” breastfeeding, the term then used for “exclusive” breastfeeding. The mothers noticed the wide variation in the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea among the various mothers they counseled, and one of the Leaders asked Sheila to research it. The results of her research were first published in the JOGNN in 1972. See http://nfpandmore.org/relationbreastfeeding.shtml . Among mothers who nursed their babies according to the Seven Standards, the average duration of amenorrhea was 14.6 months. In 1989 we repeated the study with a much larger sample and found an average duration of 14.5 months (http://nfpandmore.org/spacingbabies.shtml ). A natural family planning teacher, H. William Taylor, did his doctoral dissertation on ecological breastfeeding and then did several other published studies, finding similar or identical results. Most recently, Sheila published the research of others for each of the Standards in her book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor. There is no question: the duration claims of Ecological Breastfeeding according to the Seven Standards are evidence-based.
I enjoy reading the results of other researchers, but there is something qualitatively different about Sheila’s research. I think she was the first mom-researcher. She had the distinct advantage of associating with other nursing moms. They could discuss the various facets of baby care and speculate whether this or that factor might influence the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea. Sheila was able to incorporate these factors into her survey, and it’s from those completed surveys that we found the above results. I am not aware of anyone who has challenged them. NFP teachers Bill and Donna Taylor were enthusiastic about ecological breastfeeding, and his research has supported both of our studies.
John F. Kippley