Natural Family Planning and the Mother!

Nature intends for mother and baby to be one, a biological unit. Mothers who remain with their babies will find it easy to follow the ecological breastfeeding program. Nature rewards the ecological breastfeeding mother by providing many benefits to her, including natural child spacing. Any mother who is interested in natural mothering and its related child spacing effect should desire the oneness that nature intended between mother and child. In fact, such a mother soon discovers that she does not want to leave her baby; instead she makes every effort to have her baby with her no matter where she goes.

A nursing mother who loves and cares for her baby will experience a relationship that she may never have with other persons. As one mother told me, “This is the first time I ever felt truly needed, that I was irreplaceable.” This love relationship is built in naturally—the mother’s body is geared toward giving by the continuous production of milk. Likewise, breastfeeding hormones help her to feel more motherly. Nature has her own built-in laws for the child’s development, and today her ways are being discovered more and more by researchers in the field.

The World Health Organization described this oneness well: “Mothers and babies form an inseparable biological and social unit; the health and nutrition of one group cannot be divorced from the health and nutrition of the other.” Other researchers have described mother and infant as one biological system.

Mother-baby togetherness is the key to natural child spacing.
The practice of mother-baby togetherness has an impact on natural child spacing. The following example helps to make this point. A study conducted in the West African country of Rwanda discovered that there were no differences in the birth intervals of bottlefeeding mothers in the city compared to those in the rural areas. On the other hand, among breastfeeding mothers, there were significant differences. The city breastfeeding mothers were already developing patterns of separation from their babies; 75% of the city breastfeeding mothers conceived between 6 and 15 months postpartum. However, in the rural areas, the breastfeeding mothers still kept their babies with them all the time; 75% of the rural breastfeeding mothers conceived between 24 and 29 months postpartum. In this culture there were no contraceptives used or taboos against intercourse after childbirth. The researchers concluded that the only difference they could see between the two breastfeeding groups was the amount of physical contact the baby had with his mother.

The baby is important, but so is the mother.
A chief ingredient for a healthy start in life is the presence of a continuous loving relationship with one mother figure. Nature has arranged this type of care through the oneness of mother and child through breastfeeding. Contrary to the popular opinion that you will spoil your baby by responding promptly to his needs, we are now being told that you can’t give the baby too much love. Love him, enjoy him, meet his needs, and respond to his smiles, cries, and discomforts. Again, nature has already ensured that babies will receive this constant, individualized loving attention through the breastfeeding that only a mother can provide. Ecological breastfeeding provides lots of personal contact with the baby and is eminently well suited for taking care of baby’s nutritional and emotional needs. Mother and baby are one.

With breastfeeding this relationship becomes even more evident. Maria Montessori was a strong promoter of breast-milk-only for the first six months of life, very gradual weaning, and mother-baby inseparability during the early years. In fact, she recommended nursing for 1½ to 3 years. Why? Because “prolonged lactation requires the mother to remain with her child.”  She had it right back in 1949 when she wrote the first edition of The Absorbent Mind. Where would societies be today if parents had listened and followed her advice?
Sheila Kippley
Next week:  Mother and her Importance for a Healthy Society

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