Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Have you ever had the distinct feeling that the Mass readings and homily are directed at you personally? I felt that way this past Sunday.

The Gospel was the story of the Annunciation. Mary was not expecting to become the Mother of God but said, "Let it be done to me according to Your Word." I know I need God's help sometimes to say "yes" to His plan for my life. Even many months after my life several unexpected turns, I still have trouble following Mary's example.

At my church, the homily and prayers of intercession focused on trusting God when we are afraid. I am sure Mary felt afraid of being unmarried and pregnant, traveling to Bethlehem so close to Jesus' expected birth, and then not being able to find a place for the night except for a stable. I feel afraid that I will not have enough strength to do what I need to do in so many areas of my life.

I believe God sends us people, resources, and inspirations if we ask Him for help. Yesterday's Mass, several random inspirational thoughts, a few books and Christian internet sites, and some local resources being offered this week in my town have given me renewed trust in God's loving arms, holding me, as I try to do His will.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Catholic Motherhood

Isaiah 40: 11 (NRSV Catholic Edition) says: " He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep."

This verse from today's first reading brings to my mind how a mother holds her baby in her arms to nurse. Even after the child has weaned, the mother still gathers her little lamb or lambs into her arms for snuggling, kissing boo-boos, and reading a book.

God is also there to gently mother us. On some days I feel like I need more mothering than my children do. We, as mothers, strive to be gentle with our children but we also need to be gentle with ourselves on those tough days. Give all your burdens to Jesus and He will give you rest. He will carry you in His bosom - just talk to Him about whatever is bothering you. He loves to "gently lead the mother sheep."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent appeal

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus who was born a precious nursing baby, please keep the Catholic Nursing Mothers League in mind among your charitable giving. CNML relies on donations to keep encouraging and ministering to nursing mothers. You can visit the CNML website and make an electronic donation via our pay pal button or mail a check to CNML, 1915 Camini Redondo, Los Alamos, NM 87544. Thank you for your generosity!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The wonders of breastmilk

Since the use of embryonic stem cells presents an ethical dilemma, what a wonderful discovery that the stem cells in breast milk may one day be used to fight various illnesses: milk-stem-cells-may-bypass-ethical-dilemmas.html

It is also National Diabetes Awareness month and one possible use of the stem cells in breast milk is to create new pancreatic, insulin making cells for diabetics.

When you breastfeed your baby, you not only benefit yourself and your baby, but other children and people in our world. Breastfeeding our children and encouraging others in their breastfeeding journeys are beautiful ways to love our Lord and our neighbor. Remember that when you feel bogged down by the demands of motherhood. You are truly doing God's work!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Secret of Natural Mothering

The Secret of Natural Mothering

So often, when a young mother hears about Ecological Breastfeeding, her mind jumps to ‘the cost.’ You know, what it will cost her- sharing her bed, turning down certain party invitations, being always ‘on’, and maybe the worry about how long it will go on. A mother, whether choosing eco-bf or not, does give a lot. And our society ill prepares parents for that fact.

But what a mother gives to her naturally-mothered child is only half the equation. No- it is less than half the equation. Because what can’t be properly communicated before it is experienced, is what an Ecologically Breastfed child gives back.

You give yourself to your baby unreservedly; he gives you an adoration you have to feel to believe. You give your baby your arms and breasts when he is sad, hungry, frightened, or hurt; he gives you a sense of empowerment- a sure knowledge that you and you alone are the most important being in the universe to him. You give your baby a place in your bed; he gives you hundreds of peaceful nights.

My husband and I have the privilege of knowing a wonderful Catholic psychologist. Several years ago he was working on his thesis; attachment disorder was his subject. He was talking with us about co-sleeping and bed-sharing. He was wondering how it worked for us, how we felt about all the sacrificed sleep. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. “Well, Doctor, we can’t answer that question, since we don’t sacrifice any sleep!” He was surprised, and delighted. Studies do show that while bed-sharing mothers do wake more often that their crib-using counterparts, that bed-sharing moms report feeling better-rested. Most bed-sharing mothers are back to sleep before the milk even lets down!

So often what looks like a sacrifice for the greater good of our children turns out to be a greater blessing to us than we could have fathomed. It’s actually a simple Christian concept of spirituality. The more we embrace a sacrifice, the sweeter it becomes, till it ceases to be a sacrifice and becomes, in the end, a treasure we would not trade for anything in the world.

And that, to me, is the secret of natural mothering.

Written by Maureen Armendariz

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Today's Scripture readings

Two of today's Scripture readings mention breastfeeding!

from Psalm 131:
"But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul."

Notice how the verse from Psalms talks about how breastfeeding quiets a child. Isn't that so true! When babies are hungry, sleepy, need to suckle or just need MOM, nursing often does the trick. I read in the newest issue of "New Beginnings" magazine put out by La Leche League that there are three things a baby needs: nourishment, warmth and security. Breastfeeding fulfills all three of these needs. Even older babies and toddlers need these things. How wonderful that a mother can breastfeed her child when he is feeling insecure among strangers or is having a meltdown!

from 1 Thes 2:
"We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children."

During breastfeeding, hormones are released in the mother's body that help her to relax and sometimes even want to fall asleep! I believe that breastfeeding helps mothers be more gentle with their child. How easy it is for parents to get frustrated - I know I have felt that way many times over the years. However, sitting down to nurse a baby or a toddler seems to make life feel just a little bit better. I can often handle the next crisis in a more gentle manner and behave more similarly to how St. Paul treated his fellow Christians.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching an Ecological Breastfeeding class

Have you ever considered teaching an Ecological Breastfeeding class? Have/Do you enjoy breastfeeding your children and having the added benefit of extended lactation amenorrhea? Maybe there are women in your parish who have never heard about it and it would greatly enhance their breastfeeding relationship and their marriage.

The Catholic Nursing Mothers League has devised a scripted class outline for leaders to use when teaching such a class. Also, another possibility is to visit the website blog and look under "ecological breastfeeding." There is a post from just a week or two ago that suggests what material to cover using the NFPI manual.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 20

Today's Scripture readings really hit close to home with me today. "Our ways are not the same as the Lord's ways" reminds me that when I feel in the spotlight with a large family and a baby on the way, God sees my children as gifts not hindrances. It reminds me that although our society glamorizes being able to do whatever one wants without consequence, I am doing what God wants of me. I find myself going back and forth in my feelings about this pregnancy. On the one hand, I am very excited about having a baby girl. On the other hand, I wonder if I can go through birth, breastfeeding and not enough sleep all over again. My children are spread out enough in age due to ecological breastfeeding's wonderful baby spacing effects(!) that I am the only pregnant mom at many of my children's extra-curricular activities. However, now my oldest can ride his bike to the pool or take the bus to a scout meeting. He can also help watch his brothers for a short time when needed. God promises in Scripture that He will always be with us. I will put my trust in the Lord this week as I wrestle with these feelings of mine.

For more information on ecological breastfeeding, please contact the Catholic Nursing Mothers League at or NFP International's website at

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 19

Can you guess what we found out at our ultrasound appointment? I am so excited! My house needs some pink badly! Jesus has really blessed our family after so many crises this year!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 18

I haven't posted in a while. I am glad our guest blogger, Maureen, has been posting to help fill in my gaps.

My youngest has totally weaned now. For a while there, he was still asking to nurse occasionally, but now he hasn't asked for at least a week or two. I am trying to hold him more so that he still feels connected with me and me with him. Looking forward to nursing a new baby has made the process relatively easy emotionally on me.

I feel the baby's movements a little bit more strongly lately. I am actually feeling better physically at this point in my pregnancy than I had expected. I hope it continues. My mid-pregnancy ultrasound is scheduled for this Friday. I am very much looking forward to finding out if the baby's parts are all growing properly and, of course, the gender. We have all sons so far so it should be interesting!

My prayer life has been out of sync lately. I am sure that happens to all of us, especially those with young children at home and/or those who are pregnant. All one can do is start fresh with each day and ask God for help to do better.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ecological Breastfeeding: It’s Eco. It’s Logical.

It’s Eco:

God’s plans always have a unity about them. He gave us this glorious earth and he gave us the means to care for it. A mother who nurses her baby whenever he wishes to be nursed, day or night, is part of that plan.
Human milk is efficiently produced without any fuels or raw materials, except a few hundred extra calories taken in by the mother. Sure, it’s old hat info to a seasoned nursing mother, but if I stop and really think about that, it never fails to blow me away. An eco-bf mom maximizes the eco-benefits of nursing… fewer canned baby foods to worry about, fewer stained baby clothes to toss, fewer disposable menstrual products in the landfills, fewer trips to the doctor even into toddlerhood thanks to mom’s continued ‘liquid vaccine.’

And that’s just some of the “ecology” in ecological breastfeeding!

It’s Logical:

The late Herbert Ratner, a Catholic physician and a major force in the formation of La Leche League, wrote very eloquently on the logic of nursing. In my favorite passage of his he writes that when God was composing the 10 Commandments it didn’t occur to Him to add one: Thou shalt nurse thy offspring. Given a hungry, crying baby in the arms of his new mother with breasts full and overflowing with milk, He felt sure the implications were too obvious for even us backwards creatures to miss.

Why bounce, tickle, walk, sing, ad nauseum when what a baby wants is to be at his mother’s breast, frequently? Nursing a baby is logical; eco-breastfeeding a baby is brilliant, lining up a child’s needs with the simplest, most efficient, and sweetest method of meeting those needs.

“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.” ~Grantly Dick-Read

Writeen by Maureen Armendariz

Friday, August 5, 2011

He's STILL nursing?

When a toddler nurses...

I feel my cheeks going red…. Over the shouts and shrieks of children playing on the equipment, I catch broken bits of the conversation at another other picnic table.
“…nursing that kid?” “(Gasp) Yes! I can’t believe people do that!” “And in public…”

And I purposely shut my ears.

I drop my head and sniff the blonde head pressed up against me.

Smells like heaven and earth combined.

A moment ago he was a wild toddler, sweaty from his antics, unsure of what he wanted from me, sure of everything he didn’t want (anything and everything). But finally he slowed down. And before I knew it, he was clinging to my leg whimpering, “Paaa, eee,” (our strange code-word for nurse, please.) So we left the big kids playing on the jungle gym and found a bench for a nurse-rest.

It’s really impossible to explain to a woman who hasn’t done it herself- why would you want to nurse a big, cranky toddler? Oh, sure, they get demanding. Oh, sure, it’s inconvenient at times. Oh, sure, sometimes you’d love to sleep curled up in a ball instead of tangled up with a kicking little body.


But it’s the love pats on the arm while he suckles. But it’s the change from meltdown to smiles after a tumble when he only latches on for half a minute. But it’s talking with a friend while you effortlessly nurse him to sleep. But it’s the eyes that gaze up at you adoringly- looking at you the same way he has thousands of times over the last two years.

I think of all the things a mom misses when she and her baby wean at 6 months, or 12 months. All the special, secret things that pass between a mother and her child during those silent moments. (As a friend of mine jokes, “It’s the only time she holds still!”) And I’m not embarrassed anymore. Instead I feel a compassionate longing that every mother might know the peace and joy of nursing a toddler. And I lift my head up from my son’s, look across the grass, and smile brightly at the moms sitting over there.

Written by Maureen Armendariz

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 13

My youngest son is very close to completely weaning. I think I am more ready for this change than not ready. He only nurses once every other day for just a few seconds now. However, it is not comfortable, partly because of being pregnant and partially because he has forgotten how to nurse nicely. It always amazes me and surprises me when I hear of a nursing toddler that weans and then asks to nurse a few weeks later. Oftentimes, he has already forgotten how to nurse even though he nursed for two or three years.

I had quite a bit of anxiety this past weekend about miscarrying. I overdid things and must have pulled some muscles. Every twinge and every little bit of pressure left me convinced that I was miscarrying. As the days go on, I am feeling better and less anxious about this possibility. I also realized that I left God out of the equation. I was so wanting control that I forgot that God is in control. And even more importantly, God only wants the best for me and the baby. Plus, I realized through this all, that I am actually very attached to this new baby.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother -Week 11

My youngest had the most terrible case of the flu this past week. We were so worried about him. He is such a little kid, even for his age. He went on anti-vomiting medication, and he just slept and slept. He wasn't interested in playing or eating much or even moving. He went down to nursing only once every other day. Then on Friday, the vomiting started again and I took him into the doctor. The doctor tried to start an IV on him in her office but he was too dehydrated. She didn't want to keep trying and causing him more pain so she suggested just really pushing the electrolyte drinks. On the way home from her office, I kept praying for him, asking God to make him better. That night he made a complete turn around. By the next day, he was eating, playing, WALKING! It was almost miraculous! I am so thankful to our loving God for curing him.

Today I went for my first ultrasound. I have to say that I was sort of nervous, because a lot of people have been suggesting that maybe I might have twins this time. I am still getting used to the idea of one baby, but two - that would be something. Well, I am having only one baby. It did my heart good to see the baby on the screen and to see his or her little arms moving.

Tomorrow I leave for a week trip with my youngest to see family and to go on the Holy Family Institute retreat. I am very much looking forward to it. The Holy Family Institute is a Pauline institute of consecrated secular life, approved by the Vatican, solely for married and widowed couples. It has been such a blessing in my life.

Holy Family Institute

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother -Week 10

It is nice to be home. However, there are still signs of the fire. You can see lit in the hills, and the smokey smell lingers on and off each day. Usually once a week when my son has his boy scout meeting, I like to go out by myself for a little while. I am trying to get into the habit of stopping by the adoration chapel just for thirty minutes. When I stopped by the other night, a sign said it was closed due to smoke. So I just drive around a bit and talked to God. I am sure God understands. However, I do hope the chapel opens again soon. When one has loud, boisterous children at home, the peace and quiet of adoration is just the right way to decompress and get into tune with God again.

My toddler is getting closer and closer to weaning each day. He just started sleeping through the night less than a month ago. Before then, he always woke to nurse once or twice a night. We co-sleep. Now he has gone twenty four hours without nursing. If I wasn't pregnant, I think this would be harder on me and more emotional. Nursing had been such a large part of my life for almost my whole adult life.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 9

Tonight I felt drawn to meet Jesus at Mass and the Eucharist. I don't often go to daily Mass, because I am a busy mom with young children. However, sometimes I just need to go. The priest talked about how to achieve peace - completely submit to God's will. That sure can be tough sometimes, particularly for me right now. Today I am a 4 day evacuee and counting due to the Los Conchas fire near Los Alamos where I live. Just another phase to my journey I was not expecting.

One nice thing about still nursing my toddler, is I can provide a little bit of normalcy for him during this time of uncertainty. Breastfeeding is always important in crisis and emergency situations, especially for newborns and babies. Imagine needing to flee your house at a certain time and needing to remember all the feeding apparatus in addition to all those special pictures and papers. It sure is a blessing and a life saver to be a breastfeeding mother.

For more information on breastfeeding in an emergency, one good site is:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 8

Today is the celebration of the Holy Body and Blood of Jesus in the Church liturgical year. My parish priest commented at Mass that Jesus knows we need Him and He also needs us in a way. That is why He gave us His Body and Blood - so we can have that close relationship with Him always. I definitely need Jesus at this time in my life.

I entitled my post "Chronicles of a Catholic Nursing Mother - Week 8" because I am a Catholic woman, nursing a toddler, and 8 weeks into pregnancy. As I have been pondering my life, I have wondered why God chose to send me a baby at this time. One of my children was recently diagnosed with a serious but manageable life changing illness. It is difficult not to be consumed daily with all the details of it. Maybe God chose to send me a baby as gift to comfort me in my sadness? Maybe He thought a new life and breastfeeding a new baby would help me shift my focus and give me a new, hopeful perspective? Sometimes a new life and breastfeeding a new baby is medicine to the soul!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vatican plea to uncover Virgin Mary and show her breast-feeding baby Jesus

The Vatican yesterday said it wanted to see more paintings of a semi-nude Virgin Mary. What Catholic leaders have in mind is more images of Mary breast-feeding baby Jesus.

Full Story:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding

The Surgeon General just released a new document (104 pages long!) that promotes breastfeeding and calls for our country to support nursing women through mother-to-mother support groups, improved hospital practices (Baby Friendly Initiative) and increased access to IBCLCs. The document actually shows the risks of not breastfeeding which is a breath of fresh air for those who work with nursing women. Also, isn't this document timely as the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is almost upon us? What is one way you can work for life? By breastfeeding your own children and supporting other women who breastfeed. Email the Catholic Nursing Mothers League today for an application to become a leader! For online support, join