. Both acts have two orders: the order of nature and the personal order. In Love and Responsibility, Pope John Paul II also speaks frequently of the marriage relationship. His discourse on the sexual relationship between husband and wife may also apply to the breastfeeding relationship between mother and child. The Pope discusses two orders involved in the sexual relationship: the natural order and the personal order. These two orders, he says, cannot be separated because “each depends upon the other.” The Pope says that the natural order in the sexual relationship has reproduction as its object. The same can be said about breastfeeding, which also has as its object the completion of the reproductive cycle.
Remember that the reproductive cycle ends with breastfeeding, not after childbirth, because the baby’s total dependence upon the mother’s body for protection and nutrition occurs both during pregnancy and during the early months of breastfeeding. In addition, reproduction depends upon the fertility-infertility cycle of the woman. The infertility of the woman during pregnancy continues during breastfeeding for months or a year or two.
The personal order of the sexual relationship between husband and wife has love as its object, and this love is expressed between the two persons involved. The same personal order also applies to breastfeeding. The personal order of the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby has love as its object, and this love is expressed between the two persons involved.
Thus, the two orders — the natural order and the personal order — of the sexual relationship between man and woman are also present in the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. In God’s plan, both relationships have a natural order and a personal order that depend on each other; the objects of each order, for the marriage act and for the breastfeeding act, are reproduction and self-giving love.
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
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