Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Third CNML Principle

Third CNML Principle:

Breast milk is the best nourishment for babies, and the act of breastfeeding provides the best nurturing environment for both mothers and babies.    

Science has extensively verified that breast milk is the best food for babies.  Here are just a few online resources that list and/or explain the myriad of reasons to breastfeed:

NFP International breastfeeding brochure

This link lists statements from many of the major health organizations and discusses general and specific reasons to breastfeed.

Ask Dr. Sears: Why Breast is Best

What about the act of breastfeeding? Does it matter if a mother pumps her milk and then just lets her baby hold his own bottle when he is able while she does something else?  Yes, it does matter!  In terms of health, the physical act of breastfeeding contributes to healthy jaw development.  Also, the breastfeeding bond helps stimulate the let down of milk and encourages the release of prolactin which relaxes the mother.  The skin to skin aspect of breastfeeding also helps stabilize temperature, oxygen, blood sugar and heart rate levels.

In terms of the relationship, mothers holding their babies, making eye contact, affectionately touching their babies, and talking gently to their little ones - how can those aspects of breastfeeding NOT contribute to the mother-baby bond and the emotional health of the relationship!  I am sure you have heard of studies done in orphanages in third world countries where all the babies are kept in cribs and hardly talked to.  The baby closest to the door - who receives the same amount of formula as the other babies - ends up being the healthiest.  Why?  Because as the orphanage staff members walks by the door, that baby gets an extra smile or hello or maybe even a little touch on the head.  This nurturing aspect of breastfeeding is one reason some moms breastfeed their babies into the toddler and preschool years (although, those children also still receive the immunological benefits of breastfeeding, too).

For more info on the beauty of the breastfeeding relationship, see the book, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing.  The book does a lovely job of discussing the mother and baby bond.  You can also email CNML for a complimentary copy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Blessings of Ecological Breastfeeding

 Before I continue with my series of posts on the CNML Principles, I would like to take a short foray to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart - ecological breastfeeding.

Lately, I have been thinking about how all my children are getting so big!  My youngest is 3 and a half.  She sleeps in her own bed in her brothers' room, has been potty trained for over a year now, and seems so independent.  However, she still nurses to sleep on most nights and occasionally during the day if she is upset.  Her nursing is my last tie to her babyhood in a way.  It is bittersweet for me.  I love the little girl she is becoming, but I am sad for the near ending of her nursing years.  I also think about how my mothering years (with children at home) are already half over. 

When I spend too much time feeling sad about my children not being little any more, I almost cannot handle this transition I am meant to go through.  However, everyone eventually goes through it, right?  A wise friend once told me that there will eventually be a last child.  This is so true!  Therefore, I have decided that I will try to dwell more on my blessings!

Ecologically breastfeeding has definitely been a blessing in my life!  If I hadn't gone along with my children's need to nurse as long as they wanted and hadn't gone along with my the natural infertility that resulted from it, I would not have had 16+ years of wonderful breastfeeding memories!  Also, the spacing from ecological breastfeeding has afforded me more precious years of having children in my house.  When I am all done with raising each of my children from birth to age 18, I will have been a parent for 31 years.  Although some days are very challenging and frustrating, overall I enjoy having my children at home with me.  Another blessing is the close relationship I now have with my children partially due to the mother I have become following the ecological breastfeeding philosophy.  That is something that will last for many years, long after my youngest has weaned.  It has helped me learn to be more responsive to each child's individual needs as he or she grows older.  Last but not least, I haven't needed to bother with NFP charting for many years and had only a tenth of the cycles a typical woman has during a 16 year span.

Np matter where I presently am on my mothering journey, I will always be a mother, thanks be to God.  Everyday I strive to be the best mother I can be.  All those years of nursing my children will always remain part of my life and theirs.  I still prefer some nursing clothing items over typical women's attire - not surprising after wearing it for 16 years!  I continue to enjoy my ministering to nursing moms through the national CNML organization and my local group.  On most days, I wear a small cross and a medal of Our Lady of La Leche from the Shrine in St. Augustine, FL.  Happily, ecological breastfeeding will continue to be part of my life for many years to come!