Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Sunday, March 31, 2013


We are conducting a survey to find out how the Catholic Nursing Mothers League can more effectively minister to nursing mothers and those you would like to start a nursing mothers ministry.  If you haven't done so already, please take a moment and complete our five minute online survey.

Thank you for your help!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Chance Meeting with Dr. Miriam Labbok

My infant daughter and I were invited to a simple dinner and short breastfeeding presentation in my hometown, right down the street from me.  After socializing with the other attendees, which included two local pediatricians, the conversation turned to breastfeeding.  Dr. Labbok mentioned that she became interested in breastfeeding, partly due to its role in child spacing.  Then I realized who she was - the developer of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)!  We then discussed Sheila Kippley's work on ecological breastfeeding and formed an immediate kinship.  Anytime the discussion or the later presentation turned to child spacing, Dr. Labbok would mention ecological breastfeeding and nod in my direction.  At the conclusion of the evening, Dr. Labbok suggested we keep in touch.  I feel so honored to have met Dr. Labbok and to receive mentorship and friendship from Sheila Kippley for the Catholic Nursing Mothers League (CNML)!

Ecological breastfeeding has been such a big part of my adult life.  Ministering to nursing moms through CNML is such a blessing to me and will allow me to stay connected with the ecological breastfeeding lifestyle even when I am no longer nursing a baby.  Natural mothering doesn't stop once my baby weans.  Its gentleness and similarity to the teachings of Jesus will continue to influence me as a mother, woman and Catholic for years to come.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Images of Mary Nursing baby Jesus

In our current time period and location in the world, breastfeeding in public is sometimes discouraged due to the possibility of exposing too much skin.  However, isn't this due, at least partially, to the sexualization of a woman's breasts?  In places and time periods where breastfeeding is a normal part of life, no one bats an eye at a woman nursing a baby in public.  Even in some Middle Eastern countries where many women cover from head to toe, breastfeeding in public is accepted and routine.  Some people even disagree with the displaying of beautiful paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus, because it seems immodest.

What does the Catholic Church say about the topic?  According to the official Vatican newspaper, the Vatican has been requesting the restoration of images depicting Mary breastfeeding Jesus since 2008.  Father Enrico dal Covolo, a professor of classic and Christian literature at the Pontifical Salesian University had this to say on the topic: "The Virgin Mary who nurses her son Jesus is one of the most eloquent signs that the word of God truly and undoubtedly became flesh". 

I did a quick web search and found a number of sites extolling the beauty of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus.  There is a nine picture slideshow on  ; paintings from Rembrandt and Da Vinci are included in the mix.  WND Faith has a copy of the beautiful painting "Virgin of the Green Cushion" by Solario and an article about how "the lactating virgin was the primary symbol of God's love."  This ties in nicely with the book, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood.Flickr has a painting from the Florence Cathedral Museum.  Peaceful Parenting has several more images of Mary nursing Jesus.  I even found picture of Mary nursing Jesus as a toddler.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you think paintings and sculptures of Mary nursing Jesus should be more commonplace in churches?  Please leave a comment and let's have a friendly discussion :)

Written by Gina Peterson

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Breast Milk and Bacteria in the Gut

Recently there have been more and more research studies on the importance of certain types of bacteria in breast milk and in a baby's gut, so I thought I'd post some info on the topic.

As you probably know, we need certain types of bacteria in our intestines in order to stay healthy.  Some types cause serious illness.  Other types like acidophilus help keep us healthy.  Pick up a container of yogurt and you can see all the "good" bacteria it claims to contain.
What is the best environment for colonizing a baby's gut with beneficial bacteria?
One study in Pediatrics in 2006 concluded that the "most important determinants of the gut microbiotic composition in infants were the mode of delivery, type of infant feeding, gestational age, infant hospitalization, and antibiotic use by the infant."  Full term babies born vaginally at home and exclusively breastfed contained the largest amounts of beneficial bacteria in their guts (1).  Therefore taking care of one's self while pregnant to increase the chances of a full term baby, birthing at home if possible and breastfeeding exclusively will all increase your baby's odds of having a gut filled with lots of "good" bacteria.

What types of bacteria are found in breast milk and what are their benefits?
Bifidobacteria is one type found naturally in breast milk.  It assists 
the intestines in tolerating the harmful bacteria (and possibly also gluten) and
avoiding inflammation.  Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli help with digestion 
(2).  Staphylococci, lactic acid bacteria, propionibacteria, and Gram-
positive bacteria are other types found in breast milk.  Exposure to varied 
types of bacteria help the body fight off diarrheal and respiratory diseases, 
reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity, and help the immune system mature 
properly (3).

Written by Gina Peterson, BS, IBCLC