Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child (wikimedia commons)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Do Small Things with Great Love


(Wikimedia commons)

Mother Teresa said, “Do Small Things with Great Love!”  That really sums up the life of a mother, doesn’t it?  We do so many little things throughout our days in service to our families.  I think the key is to do them with as much love as we can.  We all make mistakes.  I know I do.  However, keep asking Jesus to help you be a loving, cheerful mom in all that you do.  One great resource for remembering that everything we do for our families is really a Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy is  Divine Mercy For Moms.

Here is another great quote about the importance of the little things from the book, Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King:

“Give more importance to the little things.  Some are so little that you often neglect to fill them with love.  And yet, in My eyes, God’s eyes, do you think there is a big difference between the small actions of your daily duty...and what you call the great events of your life?”

Mother Teresa’s quote and the quote from Jesus Speaking remind me of something I learned while volunteering for another non-profit: the concept of “mother sized.”  When you have little ones, especially nurslings, it can be very difficult to get large chunks of time to work on projects around the house, lengthy homeschool projects if you homeschool, homework time in the evenings if your children attend school, volunteer work, and other interests.  However, if you write down the most important things you want to get done during the day - mother sized activities that are broken down into chinks of as little as 15 minutes - you will feel a sense of accomplishment being able to do those things.  Don’t feel like your list needs to have 20 items on it.  Start with just THREE.  If you are a mom of a newborn, that might be enough with “shower” as one of your three items 😊 If your nursing toddler nurses just a few times per day and is often busy playing with his older brother, maybe you can add more items to your list.  You get to decide what is right for you.

Prayer can also be one of the “small things done with great love” you most want to accomplish each day.  Nursing moms often do not have enough time to just sit down and pray a whole five decades of the rosary.  That is why CNML gives out one decade rosaries and two decade rosary bracelets.  If you would like one, just email us!

I just listened to a CatholicMom.com podcast this morning about household chores and feeling like you are doing enough or being enough.  Remember that you are more than the sum total of your activities!  You are much more than that! You are a person made in the image and likeness of God on her journey to Heaven to be with God.  There will be days when you get zero household chores done and you are glad you have clothes on other than pajamas.  However, you nursed your baby and changed her diaper and rocked her to sleep.  Maybe you also took care of a sick child and prayed a Morning offering and “Jesus I trust in You!” a few times throughout the day. Guess what?  You made Jesus happy that day!

Another fun resource for moms is the FlyLady website and book.  I have not had much success following her suggested routines, but I like her philosophy.  She recommends something similar to 15 minute mother sized activities - have one day a week of doing the more involved housework like vacuuming and then spend just 15 minutes per day on other chores that need to get done.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Nursing Mothers are Strong

                                                             (Wikimedia commons)

Today on my run, I was thinking about how grateful I am that I am healthy enough to run.  I really enjoy it, and it has been good for my self-confidence.  Also, it makes me feel strong.  Then my mind wandered to the births of my children.  I thought about how strong I needed to be to give birth to my babies.  Men are often thought of as strong, and women - not so much.  Women are seen as gentle (I want to be gentle!  God has helped me learn to be gentle!) However, you CAN be both strong and gentle!  Wasn’t Jesus? It takes great strength to attend to the needs of a baby 24 hours a day.  It takes strength to nurse a baby many, many times per day for months and years on end (against the advice of parenting books, friends and family) because your heart says this is how it should be.  It also takes great strength to be a Catholic woman who lives her life according to her faith even though the world doesn’t understand or approve.

Remember, dear fellow mom, you are strong!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Information and Support for Practicing Ecological Breastfeeding

Need support for practicing Ecological Breastfeeding?  Well, you have come to the right place!  No need to spend hours scouring the internet for resources.  We’ve done it for you!

Organizations that Promote Ecological Breastfeeding


Catholic Nursing Mothers League

NFP International


In Person Support


Catholic Nursing Mothers League groups


Online Support Group


CNML Ecological Breastfeeding Facebook group


Information


The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding Summary at NFP International

Breastfeeding and Fertility (scroll down to the section entitled “How can I maximize my natural period of infertility?”)


Books


Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley

The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor by Sheila Kippley

Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers 

Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach


Videos


Catholic Nursing Mothers League YouTube Channel

Ecological Breastfeeding



Research Articles


Ecological Breastfeeding and Child Spacing by R. L. Jackson

Spacing Babies with Ecological Breastfeeding by Sheila and John Kippley

Ecological Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by John and Sheila Kippley

Comparison of Ecological Breastfeeding with Lactational Amenorrhea Method by Sheila Kippley


Podcasts





Articles and Blog Posts




Exclusive and Ecological Breastfeeding Are Not the Same

A History of Ecological Breastfeeding: An Interview with Sheila Kippley

Extreme Ecological Breastfeeding

My Experience Practicing Ecological Breastfeeding

Ecological Breastfeeding: A Natural Approach to Child Spacing

Ecological Breastfeeding: 7 Principles of Natural Child Spacing

Talking Frankly about Ecological Breastfeeding

Ecological Breastfeeding: What It Is and Why It Doesn’t Always Work

The Difference Between the Lactational Amenorrhea Method and Ecological Breastfeeding

Ecological Breastfeeding Makes Breastfeeding Easier, Spaces Babies

The Benefits of Ecological Breastfeeding for Child Spacing

On Toddler Weaning and How Ecological Breastfeeding Suppresses Fertility

Spacing Children Without NFP

Ecological Breastfeeding: What It Is and Why Some Mamas are Doing It

Ecological Breastfeeding: Is It Right For You?

Breastfeeding: Does It Really Space Babies?

What Every Priest Should Know About Ecological Breastfeeding by John Kippley

Can You Use NFP While Breastfeeding? (Guiding Star Project)

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method vs. Ecological Breastfeeding

Ecological Breastfeeding by Sheila Kippley (Physicians For Life)

A Bit More on Ecological Breastfeeding

Pope Francis’ Encyclical: A Significant Omission on Breastfeeding By Sheila Kippley

Ecological Breastfeeding Book Review

Ecological Breastfeeding: The Secret Weapon of Natural Family Planning

The Ecology of Natural Mothering: Classic Edition of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing Is With Us Again by Pamela Pilch

One Doula: Book Review

Breastfeeding as Birth Control (author is Catholic)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

God’s Love Mirrored in the Breastfeeding Relationship

Today I rewatched a talk I first heard at a homeschool conference.  The speaker and author, Suzie Andres, mentions how Jesus is kinder and more merciful than you can imagine.  Think of the most loving, gentle and kind person you have ever met.  Doesn’t it make sense that Jesus is infinitely more loving, gentle, merciful and kind even than that person?

I very fondly remember my years of nursing all my children.  I miss it a lot!  Yes, those years were also difficult and overwhelming, and I did not get enough sleep most of the time.  It was hard being on call 24/7 for so many years. However, I would not trade those years of nursing for anything!

Every time you nurse your baby, which can be many, many times per day, you are repeatedly showing the love of Jesus to that child.  You are a being the most loving, kindest, most gentle person you can think of to that baby.  What a gift God has given us to help us grow closer to Him! No wonder Scripture often compares the relationship between a mother and her baby to God’s relationship with us.

Now that I have older children, teens and even an adult son, I notice one advantage breastfeeding has over parenting an older child.  It can be very easy to forget to hug my older children or to neglect that special one on one time with each one.  However, holding and spending time with a nursing child is just automatically built into the breastfeeding relationship.

Just like breastfeeding is good for the mom in terms of decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses, nursing a baby or toddler also helps mothers see God, too!  Have you ever watched your baby nursing and then suddenly become overcome with love and joy? That is a little gift from God.

Nursing = God’s ❤️

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Living the Ecological Breastfeeding Lifestyle in a Fast Paced World



Modern life has become fast paced.  During this pandemic, people are realizing just how over scheduled they have become.  It is difficult for even the best of us to not fall into the trap of equating busyness with being a good mom or equating busyness with our value. We want to give our children the best of everything - the best activities, the best social experiences, the best education - but you know what is high up on that list, too?  Your presence!  And that is what ecological breastfeeding helps us do - give our wonderful breast milk to our babies but also our presence.

One of the benefits of the ecological breastfeeding lifestyle is that it helps us slow down and really “be” with our baby and our children.  There is something so simple and also spiritual about sitting down to nurse one’s baby.  Usually it starts with providing nourishment and comfort at the breast, but then it continues onto snuggles and tickling little toes and joyful laughs.  Not every nursing session, of course, is like that but many are.  By following your baby’s lead on when to nurse, you are increasing your chances of experiencing those joyful moments.  By co-sleeping in a safe manner with your baby, you get to wake actually more well rested than moms who feed their babies formula and you get to greet the start of the day alongside your bundle of joy.  Now, I know some of you might be thinking about all the times your baby woke to nurse last night (I nursed my five babies for 15 years and remember those nights well), but you have to admit that at least a few mornings per week you secretly enjoy seeing your baby cooing at you as you wake up.

But what about logistics? What if your daughter has ballet class on Wednesday afternoons and your son has baseball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays?  Maybe you homeschool and that takes up a chunk of time each day or your kids are in school and you need to pick them up at 3:30?  When is there time to practice ecological breastfeeding?

By practicing ecological breastfeeding, you can just grab a diaper, wipes and possibly a spare outfit for baby and go.  No need to make sure your baby’s favorite “paci” is in the bag; all he or she needs is you! You might want to pack a small bag of snacks, toys and books to keep your older nursing baby or other children happy while their older sister practices her ballet recital piece in class.  However, I have found that nursing babies often enjoy just going along for the ride and staying close to mom and nursing.

You might try planning ahead if you need to pick up your older kids from school at a certain time.  Offer your baby the breast close to the time you will leave and maybe change baby’s diaper before nursing. If it is a distance to the school, you can always leave earlier than you need just in case your baby needs you to pull over and nurse him or her for a few minutes along the way.

Is it difficult to homeschool your older children while ecologically breastfeeding?  I have found that it weaves in quite nicely with the homeschool lifestyle.  Baby can easily nurse or nap-nurse while you read to your other children or while you help your son with math.  If you need to help your kids with an art project or a science experiment, maybe wait until your baby has nursed for a good long time to sleep and is ready to be put down in a safe place like a bassinet on the floor close to where you and the older ones are busy learning and having fun.

What about trips?  Not having to worry about bringing a thermometer, NFP charts, or feminine hygiene products while on a special trip with my family has been wonderful!  Because ecological breastfeeding gives nursing moms in the North American culture an average of 14-15 months of lactational amenorrhea per baby, there is a good chance you will go on a trip while not cycling.

There may be times you will be invited to a party or a function and will not want to leave your baby at home.  Don’t assume your baby will not be welcomed.  Talk to the host and ask.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find out they would be happy for you to bring your munchkin.  I have taken my nursing babies to retreats, a formal dinner related to my husband’s work, a homeschool conference, and even to sing in the choir at Mass.

Intrigued to learn more about ecological breastfeeding?  Sheila Kippley has a great summary that will help you get started.  If you want to delve more deeply into the philosophy of this lifestyle, here are three books that should answer most of your questions:

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers

Also, our lovely CNML board member, Andrea, is making videos for our YouTube channel on each of the standards of ecological breastfeeding.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hormonal Changes during Breastfeeding

There are several hormones that play a role in getting the breasts ready to make milk during pregnancy.  Human placental lactogen, prolactin, HCG, estrogen, glucocorticoids, and progesterone are all necessary for breast changes and growth during pregnancy.  Even thyroid hormones and metabolic hormones are important for milk production.  (1)

After the baby is born and the placenta is delivered, there is a sharp decline in human placental lactogen, estrogen and progesterone.  The drop in progesterone is what signals the mother’s body to start making more copious amounts of milk. (1) Both estrogen and progesterone stay lower than usual until the woman starts ovulating again. (2) If a woman charts NFP, she may note dryness everyday or an unchanging basic infertile pattern until she gets closer to returning to cycling.  Women who practice ecological breastfeeding may continue to have low levels of estrogen and progesterone and no cycles for years due to the strong effect breastfeeding has on a woman’s body.

Many new mothers experience a rush of endorphins after their babies are born.  After the excitement of meeting your new bundle of joy starts to wear off, sometimes the “baby blues” set in.  According to author, Kimberly Ann Johnson, giving food and loving touch to the new mom can help lessen the “baby blues.”  The time period of feeling emotional and blue is usually temporary.  If you are a new mom, know that your moods and perspective will even out and soon you will feel more like yourself again! If you do not feel better after the first few months or if your symptoms are more serious than the “baby blues,” please do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. (2)

Oxytocin is another essential hormone during breastfeeding that is released when the mother’s nipple is stimulated. (1) It helps the uterus return to its usual size after birth.  If you have given birth before, you may feel after pains in the first few days when oxytocin is released while breastfeeding.  (3) The release of oxytocin causes your milk to let down and to continue to flow when you nurse your baby.  Oxytocin also has a calming effect, reduces blood pressure in mom, and decreases anxiety.  (1) That wonderful feeling of relaxation you feel after nursing your baby is due to oxytocin. (3)

Prolactin is another key hormone needed for milk secretion, and is released in response to breast stimulation.  Frequent nursing, especially in the early days of breastfeeding, encourages the development of prolactin receptor sites in the breast which help the mom have an adequate supply of milk during the years of breastfeeding. Prolactin levels decrease over time, but have been still detected in women even 40 weeks after birth.  In non-breastfeeding women, prolactin levels return to pre-pregnant levels by two weeks. (1)

There are also hormonal changes as the baby gets closer to full weaning.  The more abrupt the weaning, the more dramatic the shift will be in hormones.  Therefore, a more gradual weaning - when possible - is the ideal for both mom and baby, not only in terms of less risk of engorgement for mom but also hormonally.  Before and after weaning, there is a drop in both oxytocin and prolactin.  Since oxytocin contributes to the feelings of relaxation and calmness in the mother, it’s absence may lead to the mother feeling extra emotional at this time.  That, in addition, to possibly feeling sad that the baby is no longer wanting or needing to nurse.  (4) The involution of the breast, or the breast returning to its pre-pregnancy and pre-breastfeeding condition, typically takes place by 40 after full weaning.  However, if the mother has been breastfeeding for an extended length of time as is common in mothers practicing ecological breastfeeding, this process may take longer. (1)

References:
(1) Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, third edition
(2) Kellymom: Fourth Trimester
(3) Oxytocin and Breastfeeding
(4) Kellymom: Sadness and depression during weaning