Archive for the ‘Ecological Breastfeeding’ Category

NFP: Effects of Breastfeeding and Non-Breastfeeding in a Community

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

In going over my old files, I found one mother’s view as written to me in 1971.

“I happened to grow up in a small, rural Catholic community. I saw the first baby totally bottlefed when I was 14 years old. The custom was to nurse a baby for at least 16-18 months. When the parish held its centennial in the early 1950s, they set a lot of records: no divorces in 100 years, only one crime, vocations per family as high as any in the nation (one family had 3 priests and 4 nuns), strong tie between parents and children.

Today in the same town a totally bottlefed generation is making the scene. The change has produced drastic results. There is no longer the strong bond between parents and children. Over half of the young mothers work outside of the home. They appear to lack the strong maternal feelings of their own mothers who would never leave their babies with sitters. Today one doesn’t see many babies or smaller children at public functions like weddings, church functions, neighborhood gatherings like in the past. More and more they are confined to the home and the parents go out alone. Many parents throw their hands up in the air when talking of their teenage children. Drinking and reckless driving has gotten out of hand completely among their teens, they say. There hasn’t been a religious vocation in the last couple of years. On the surface this parish seems to be having more trouble than most with the children. I know there has been many changes in living to account for some of these troubles but I STILL wonder if the switch to bottlefeeding didn’t lay the ground work especially in the area of family unity? I forgot to mention that at one time breastfeeding was the only method of birth control. When bottlefeeding became popular more couples were reluctant to use rhythm; for a while some couples had a new baby every 11 months or babies very close — like 8 in 7 years. Once rhythm became popular and the ONLY alternative for these Catholics, the younger couples began to rebel (20 to 30 years of nothing but rhythm seemed ridiculous) so today they are switching to contraceptives.

I realize that in this day that breastfeeding alone isn’t the whole answer in controlling births, especially if a small family is desired. However, in talking with young Catholic students, I found them more receptive to the Church’s teaching on birth control when breastfeeding with its natural spacing factor was added to the list of Church approved methods. Most of them had no idea that breastfeeding had anything to do with infertility.

I realize that my views on breastfeeding are very subjective but I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak out and to work in this area. One might say I am angry for God’s glory.”

(PS: This mother had a brother-in-law who worked in Peru among the Indians. She said that the Indians there nursed for 3-4 years and the mothers didn’t offer any liquid from the cup. The children just imitate when ready. Also he said the missionaries and French nuns discouraged breastfeeding past one year because they felt the children should be more aggressive like American children. This mother has then wondered since then how much bottlefeeding and violence go together and has written letters requesting a study be done on sex offenders, drug addicts, hippies, etc. to find out how many were nursed for a year or longer. She uses a year as a starting point to eliminate all restricted forms of nursing.)

Natural Family Planning: Natural Spacing Without Abstinence

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

The most natural of the natural planning methods is ecological breastfeeding and it involves no abstinence.  This form of baby care postpones the return of fertility significantly, thus providing baby-spacing without the abstinence of systematic natural family planning (NFP).

From the beginning of the human race God has had a plan for mother and baby through the breastfeeding relationship.  This plan involves mother-baby togetherness, provides many benefits to both mother and baby, and provides the mother with an extended absence of menstruation and fertility while she nurses her baby frequently day and night.  This natural form of mothering we have termed the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  The Seven Standards are maternal behaviors that avoid common cultural practices that reduce the frequency and duration of breastfeeding.

Surprisingly, some Catholics are opposed to teaching a couple how to extend breastfeeding amenorrhea.  They see this as teaching couples how not to have babies.  On the contrary, pregnancy and breastfeeding amenorrhea are all part of God’s reproductive plan.  Would these couples shorten the months of pregnancy so they could have another baby right away?  God knows that nine months of pregnancy are best for the health of the baby.  Likewise God knows that mothers and babies have a need for each other and that it is healthier for both if breastfeeding occurs over a period of several years.  Saint John Paul II encouraged mothers to nurse at least two years or beyond.

What is the norm after childbirth?
If you take nature as your guide (and today many stress the benefits of following nature), extended breastfeeding is the norm and extended breastfeeding amenorrhea is the norm.

To have menstruation return within 3 months after childbirth should be the exception.  Again, such an early return of menstruation postpartum should be the exception if we take nature as our guide.  

With an extended time of amenorrhea, the couple does not have to abstain from the marriage act.   Their practice of ecological breastfeeding has the divinely designed effect of postponing the return of fertility.   Sometimes it may take several cycles before the couple can achieve pregnancy when the mother is still nursing.  Eventually fertility returns.

When couples are ready to achieve pregnancy as soon as fertility returns, ecological breastfeeding requires no abstinence.  We recommend, however, that they do standard sympto-thermal charting when fertility signs occur so they will have an accurate way of determining, within a few days, the time of conception.  The temperature sign gives them the most accurate estimate of the childbirth date.  When couples need to postpone their next pregnancy, they need to observe the fertility signs (especially the cervix sign) during the amenorrhea prior to the first menstruation or the first ovulation.  As fertility signs occur, then the abstinence begins.

God’s Plan
Ecological breastfeeding is the best way to space the births of children in a family.  Should ecological breastfeeding be taught?  Why not?   In our bottle-feeding culture especially, couples in natural family planning classes deserve to learn that eco-breastfeeding is a viable and wonderful option.

New book which promotes and teaches ecological breastfeeding and which helps new mothers to breastfeed successfully:  Getting Started With Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers by Gina Peterson and priced under $10.

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


Who Chooses Natural Family Planning Options—the Couple or the Teacher?

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Many couples who attend a natural family planning course today will be taught only one fertility sign.  The other signs of fertility will not be taught or, in some cases, will be discouraged.  How sad that is.  When this happens, the teacher is making the choice for the couple.  The couple is given no choice.

In addition, some NFP teachers will not teach the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) or the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  Both methods have been researched and published in scientific journals.  The method with the most research and with the research done in many countries throughout the world is LAM.  Yet oftentimes the research is ignored and couples are taught to start charting just a few weeks after childbirth.

God has provided several natural ways to discern fertility and has provided a wonderful means for couples to space their babies naturally through the right kind of breastfeeding.   When these natural fertility signs are not taught and when couples are not taught the option of natural child spacing via breastfeeding, the couples are being deprived of important information which they have a right to know.

Breastfeeding has so many benefits to mothers and babies that it seems unjust to tell a couple that they must wean their young baby in order to get back to cycling and NFP.  This was the advice generally given in the Sixties before we began to teach natural family planning, and it is still not uncommon today.

The problem is that too many mothers learn some good things about breastfeeding, but they are not taught the importance of breastfeeding frequently.  Thus they have a very early return of fertility, but the baby’s nursing still wants to delay the next ovulation.  This can really stretch out the duration of pre-ovulation mucus—-and abstinence.  Yes, this can happen even with eco-breastfeeding, but if a mother weans at past 12 months, at least she has the satisfaction of knowing that her baby has benefited greatly from that much breastfeeding.

I thank the priests we know who encourage and support breastfeeding mothers and encourage natural child spacing.  I thank especially the priests who give Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood to expectant couples who come to the Church to have their baby baptized. They are helping these couples get off to a good start.

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