Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus

Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus
Nursing Madonna (wikimedia commons)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Is Ecological Breastfeeding Contraceptive? By Sheila Kippley

To CNML moms:
I don’t think you can find an informed Catholic moral theologian anywhere in the world who will say that ecological breastfeeding is a contraceptive behavior to be condemned as seriously sinful.

According to Catholic Church teaching, couples need to have a sufficiently serious reason to practice systematic natural family planning.  Couples do not need to have a reason to practice eco-breastfeeding because the extended infertility of ecological breastfeeding is a normal, God-given side effect of following God’s plan for baby care.  It is not wrong to hope for normal breastfeeding infertility along with all the other normal good effects of breastfeeding.  

Mother and baby are one biological unit during pregnancy and after childbirth.  This concept of mother and baby being one biological unit is taught by some representing the medical profession and is also stated by the World Health Organization.  The WHO said: “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.” (“Infant and young child nutrition,” Fifty-Fifth World Health Assembly, April 16, 2002)  The biological unit is the same except that during childbirth the baby switches positions from the uterus to mother’s arms. 

Just a couple of points to consider about ecological breastfeeding.

First, breastfeeding amenorrhea is a natural effect of Ecological Breastfeeding.  Biologically, the primary effect of breastfeeding is the nourishment of the baby.  Close secondary effects are the anti-infection health benefits for the baby, the nurturing benefits for the baby, and the health benefits for the mother.  Breastfeeding amenorrhea is another secondary effect. 

Second, there is nothing wrong to breastfeed with the hopes of experiencing breastfeeding amenorrhea.  In fact, the choice to do ecological breastfeeding with the Seven Standards enhances the primary and other secondary effects.
Third, because Eco-breastfeeding is sometimes inconvenient, I think that almost all mothers who chose to do Eco-Bf as their primary reason initially will change later and will continue to do the Seven or Six Standards primarily because of the effects of breastfeeding for the baby.

The idea that Ecological Breastfeeding is contraceptive is common in a few Catholic circles.  They believe that teaching ecological breastfeeding is wrong because it teaches mothers to have a lengthy breastfeeding amenorrhea.   And that means no baby or pregnancy during that time.  They believe that if moms nurse their babies, they should wean early in order to conceive again.  The important breastfeeding benefits for both mother and baby are ignored.  Saint Pope John Paul II told mothers to nurse for two years at least and mentioned that breastfeeding spaces babies.

Regarding those who say ecological breastfeeding does not space babies, all you have to do is ask them about each of the Seven Standards or send them my breastfeeding survey.  I have sent surveys to some “it doesn’t work” mothers but never had a survey returned.  I think they realized they were not doing eco-breastfeeding.  I did a study on those mothers in our NFP organization who said it did not work, but in no case were all the Seven Standards followed.  On page 113 of our manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, we list behaviors of breastfeeding mothers which interfere with natural infertility.  This manual can be obtained at for a small donation.   It is free for the truly poor.

And most importantly, there are variations.  Some nursing mothers have a return of menstruation earlier than others with a rare few having a very early return. Secondly, many of us who go one or two years without menstruating are anxious for fertility to return because we are anxious to have another baby.  That desire to conceive again is a natural side effect when the breastfeeding and the oneness with your baby are so enjoyable.

What we need is for the Church to promote the natural spacing of children with eco-breastfeeding, for all NFP groups to teach the Seven Standards, and get Gina on EWTN promoting CNML and her book!

Sheila Kippley
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Breastfeeding Is Not Immodest by JoAnna Wahlund

This article first appeared in Catholic Stand.

A friend who works for a Catholic apostolate recently shared with me that she was discouraged from breastfeeding her 5-month-old daughter during training sessions. She isn’t the first Catholic woman who has shared this type of story with me, either. I’ve heard many anecdotes from mothers involved with Catholic ministry who were told they had to cover while nursing, or couldn’t nurse at all (i.e., the nursing baby wasn’t welcome to attend a specific function that his/her mother was required to attend).

When the issue was pressed, most of these mothers were told that these policies were due to concerns about modesty — they were worried that the sight of a breastfeeding mother would encourage impure thoughts in others; most notably, in young men. There are many, many problems with type of policy and the reasoning behind it; for the sake of brevity, I’ll point out four specific issues.

Restricting Breastfeeding Is Probably Illegal

Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. The one exception is Idaho. A Catholic church, ministry, apostolate, etc. that sets policies restricting breastfeeding mothers from feeding their babies, or requiring them to cover while doing so, may very well be running afoul of the law. (Worldwide, Australia, Canada, Germany, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom — among others — have laws protecting nursing mothers, too.)

It’s true that Catholic citizens “are obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order” (CCC 2256). However, “once a law has been passed by the civil government, it should be considered just unless the contrary is clear from the nature of the law or from the declaration of ecclesiastical authority” (
Laws that protect breastfeeding mothers from discrimination are inherently moral, as they serve to encourage mothers to feed their children in the manner in which God designed their bodies to do so. Therefore, Catholic organizations that assume this particular civil law is unjust despite clear evidence to the contrary is acting against Church teaching.

As for the declaration of ecclesiastical authority — as it so happens, the Church’s highest ecclesiastical authority on earth has encouraged mothers to breastfeed in public not once, not twice, but at least three times.

The Pope Encourages Breastfeeding in Public

In 2013, Pope Francis said in an interview with La Stampa,
At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: madam, I think the child’s hungry. “Yes, it’s probably time…” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing.
He reiterated this support in 2015:
While baptizing 33 babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday (January 11), Pope Francis urged mothers to breast-feed their infants if they were hungry. “Mothers, give your children milk—even now,” Francis said. “If they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.”
And again in 2017:
As the sounds of crying grew louder, the Pope joked that the concert had begun. The babies are crying, he said, because they are in an unfamiliar place, or because they had to get up early, or sometimes simply because they hear another child crying. Jesus did just the same, Pope Francis said, adding that he liked to think of Our Lord’s first sermon as his crying in the stable. And if your children are crying because they are hungry, the Pope told the mothers present, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus.
A law protecting the right of nursing mothers to breastfeed in public can hardly be considered in opposition to Catholic moral teaching if the Pope himself encourages nursing mothers to breastfeed in public. Nor can breastfeeding be considered unchaste or immodest behavior if the Holy Father encourages women do to so in his presence and/or in the context of Mass.

Breastfeeding Mothers Imitate Mary

A guide to modesty in Catholic circles is usually something along the lines of The Marylike Standards of Modesty in Dress. Michelle Arnold at Catholic Answers points to some issues with this document; however, it does get one thing right: women, especially those active in Catholic ministry, should strive to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary. What better way than to nurse our babies as Mary nursed Jesus?
In fact, one of Mary’s titles is Maria lactans (translated literally as Mary lactating). There are many beautiful portraits of Mary breastfeeding without a cover and with her breast and nipple fully exposed. See, for example, these 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing at St. Peter’s List or these 31 Beautiful Paintings of Mary Nursing the Baby Jesus from ChurchPOP or the Nursing Madonna Wikipedia entry. There are even images of Mary shooting breastmilk into the mouth of St. Bernard of Clairvaux! Also, the La Leche League was founded by seven devout Catholic housewives who named their organization after a Florida shrine to Mary, Our Lady of La Leche (Our Lady of Milk).
Should Catholic organizations really institute policies that encourage women not to imitate the Blessed Mother?

Modesty is a Direction, Not a Line

Fr. Matthew Schneider wrote an excellent post for Catholic Stand about six months ago titled “Modesty is a Direction, Not a Line.” In it, he says,
Instead of being a line, modesty is a direction. It has to do with respecting your own body and respecting others both in mind and body. As such it is the part of the virtue of chastity regarding those things not directly related with the marital act. It is most often talked about regarding clothing but also refers to how we act or treat others, and our words. A young man who ogles a young woman dressed overly provocatively sins against modesty just like she does. Or a man who speaks in a way some might dismiss as “locker room talk” sins against modesty with his language.
The direction modesty points is the direction of greater respect for our body and mind and those of others, especially in the sexual arena. Instead of asking “Is this skirt to short?” we should ask “Does this skirt this short respect my dignity and the dignity of those who’ll see it?” Instead of asking “Does this joke pass some arbitrary line for crudeness?” we should ask if the joke shows respect for the human person and for human sexuality.
Using Fr. Matthew’s criteria, breastfeeding is entirely modest and appropriate. It glorifies God’s creation and the way He designed our bodies to function. The sole source of nourishment for an infant is usually his mother’s breasts, and if Catholics strive to ostracize or persecute a mother for feeding her baby in the way that God designed her to do, they are not respecting the dignity of mother and baby. Eating is not an act that is intended be private or hidden from the world; Jesus showed us at the Last Supper, among other accounts, that eating in company of others is normal and natural. So it is with feeding babies.

It is also not fair nor just to place the burden of protecting others from their own lustful impulses on the shoulders of breastfeeding mothers. If a man sees a woman nursing her baby, that is a good thing; it shows him that breasts are not mere sexual playthings, but have a good and useful purpose outside the context of sexual foreplay.

If a man becomes lustful or aroused by the sight of a breastfeeding mother engaging in a perfectly normal, natural, and appropriate act, it is his duty and responsibility to avert his eyes or otherwise remove himself from the situation, rather than shame a mother for the act of using the equipment God gave her to feed her child. In this instance, the sin against modesty belongs to the man, not to the woman, and no woman should be punished or shamed for it.

Written by JoAnna Wahlund

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How Motherhood and Breastfeeding Helped Me Achieve a Healthy Weight

When I first entered college, I developed some unhealthy eating habits.  I gained quite a bit of weight and did not listen to my body's signals about what to eat and when to stop eating.  Then I married my husband, and we wanted to start a family.  I ate better and exercised regularly.  I lost 25 pounds and was still overweight, but I was definitely at a healthier weight for pregnancy and childbirth.

I breastfed my first son and kept up my better eating habits.  I took almost daily walks with my husband and son, and my pregnancy weight came off during that first year postpartum.  We then moved to another state, and soon conceived our second son.  We only had one car at that time, so I walked a lot just to get to the grocery store, park, library and other places.  While breastfeeding my second son, I easily lost my pre-pregnancy weight and then some.  I tried to listen to my body's hunger signals.  I even wrote a response to a question about healthful eating and exercising after baby in the "Staying Home" column in LLL's New Beginnings magazine.

Fast forward to today.  I birthed and breastfed a total of five children.  As a busy mom, I am in constant motion, so that counts as a little bit I exercise.  My eating habits are not perfect, but I do try to feed my family and myself as well as I can.  I limit the amount of added sugar I and my children have.   I eat more fruits and vegetables each day than previously.  I incorporate enough whole grain breads and pancakes into my family's diet that my kids seem to prefer them.  I try to model good eating habits.  I exercise about three times per week - pretty steadily.  At first, I did the Walk Away the Pounds DVDs mainly, because I am not very good at some of the complicated dance moves found in many exercise DVDs.  Then I decided to start running.  When I started, 2 minutes of running felt like torture.  However, I stayed with it, and it did get much easier as time went on.  Now I actually enjoy running.

I really believe having children and breastfeeding all those years helped me become healthier than I have ever been!

Here are a few of my favorite nutrition books:

Eat Well, Lose Weight, While Breastfeeding

Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition

The Family Nutrition Book

Here is a link from Kellymom about nutrition while breastfeeding:

Mother's Diet Archives

A Sample Beginner's Running Plan:

Walk Run Off the Pounds

Lastly, here is an excerpt from Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers:

      Nutrition for Nursing Moms
       It is important to eat healthfully while breastfeeding, but a perfect diet is not required for an ample milk supply.  What should you eat while nursing?  According to Dr. William Sears, your daily food plan should include all the healthy foods you normally eat from the five basic food groups, just in greater quantity.  Try to choose nutrient-dense selections.  Also drink to thirst (The Baby Book, Revised and Updated Edition 2013, p.159).  
      Are there any foods you need to avoid while nursing?  Unless you, the mother, have dietary restrictions or you discover that your baby is sensitive or allergic to a particular food, there are no foods you need to avoid.  Pregnant women are counseled to avoid certain foods due to increased risk of food-borne illnesses, but these restrictions do not apply to breastfeeding mothers.  The only exception I found was that of fish high in mercury.  However, both canned light tuna (not albacore) and Pacific wild salmon are two types of fish that can be eaten without restriction.
      According to The Baby Book, Revised and Updated Edition 2013 (p.167), it is best to limit alcoholic consumption to that once-in-a-while, special occasion drink.  If you do decide to have an alcoholic drink, nurse your baby first and then have your glass of wine or beer; that way the alcohol will peak in your bloodstream before your next nursing session, and your baby will get very little, if any, alcohol through your breast milk. The concentration of alcohol is greatest in your milk about 60-90 minutes after you drink it (with food), and then quickly decreases.  Therefore, waiting 2-3 hours until the next nursing session will help ensure your breast milk has as little alcohol as possible (The Baby Book, Revised and Updated Edition 2013, p.167).
      What effect does exercise have on breast milk?  Exercise is a great way to slim down after birth, relieve stress and add to your general health and well-being.  If you exercise strenuously and then nurse your baby soon afterwards, your milk may have a slightly different taste due to lactic acid build up in your milk.  Your baby may or may not notice the taste difference, but it is perfectly fine for baby to drink.  One option to avoid the altered taste is to nurse baby first and then exercise.  Moderate exercise should not affect the taste of your breast milk.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Mom's Experience Ecologically Breastfeeding and Tandem Nursing by Andrea Nease

My middle child is getting close to weaning. There are some days he only nurses once now. I'm guessing he will wean sometime this summer. I've been nursing consecutively since my oldest was born almost eight years ago. At the height of it all, I was nursing two children and pregnant with our third. The weirdest part of my middle child weaning is my body will only be supporting one child directly with nourishment from my body for the first time in roughly six years.

Each time I conceived and was still nursing another child, the thought of weaning came to mind. I couldn't possibly know what the future held. Would I regret it if I didn't wean? Would it be too much? Am I really going to be able to handle it? Still, it never felt right to forcibly wean. So I stuck with it, and it all worked out for us.

When I had two nurslings, it helped so much being able to simultaneously meet both kids' emotional needs. There was no competition. It helped soothe upset toddlers. During tantrums, I often had to calm them down before I could reason with them (as much as you can reason with little ones). Nothing calmed them down more quickly than nursing. I could explain the situation, correct them, and pray with them in the silence nursing provided us. The noise reduction also helped me keep my sanity, even if nursing was a physical drain for me. 

By the time my third child was born my oldest had weaned. However, he still needed a good amount of physical touch and affection throughout the day. I noticed as he grew older he would act out negatively to get that physical touch if his needs weren't being met. I often had to find ways to nurse two kids and cuddle him at the same time. Imagine nursing a baby in cradle position, nursing a toddler on the other side with his head in my lap and his feet going toward my back on the side, and a kindergartner curving around the baby's side toward the back to cuddle. Other times, it was like Mommy's Musical Lap as I was stuck in the same spot and children rotated in and out. It was difficult and unpleasant at times, but worth it. I saw how much comfort and trust it instilled in all of them. When a need is met it goes away, and that has proved true for us. Whenever we tried to rush our kids, it always backfired. If we were patient and persevered, good fruit came. 

I can't help to think if I had weaned my oldest early to prevent tandem nursing, it only would have made my job harder. His emotional needs would not just disappear, and it would be even harder to satisfy them without the tool he really needed. Unless I had just neglected the needs until he gave up trying to come to me to meet them, it wouldn't have lightened my load at all. I can't imagine chasing and entertaining a toddler and having to prepare more food and snacks for a non-nursing child would be less challenging than being able to sit and rest nursing children.

However, I want to take a moment to address the difficult times. I was fortunate that my youngest child, our daughter, was a good sleeper. Not sure if it's anecdotal, but I noticed my girl slept through growth spurts and my boys woke up to eat more during growth spurts through the night. Therefore, for me, my most difficult time was after I had DS2. I had two children waking to feed at night, and the oldest actually woke up more than the baby. It was tough. We had really bad nights. There were times I let my husband take our oldest because I felt I couldn't go on. Sometimes I got angry and yelled at the situation. I felt horrible about it later. Even if my husband took our oldest downstairs, he would cry and cry. My maternal instinct couldn't ignore it, no matter how hard I tried. Even if I couldn't hear anymore, my heart knew. I couldn't sleep until my child felt safe. It didn't do me any good if I wasn't sleeping anyway, so I nursed him. Then we all went peacefully back to sleep. 

Now, I have often heard people say that if the mother is no longer enjoying nursing then it's better for the child to be weaned than to have an unhappy mother. In my experience, this was not true. Even in my worst, shameful moments, my child still wanted me.  When I had lost my temper and yelled, they still wanted to be with me. When I was crying and upset, they still wanted me. If my imperfect moments were so traumatizing, they wouldn't have continued to come to me or seek me out- they would have been perfectly content with Dad because he wasn't yelling or upset. But they weren't. Even when I cringed through nursing aversion with gritted teeth and a grimace, they happily nursed. I was a wreck, but forcibly weaning would have made them a wreck, too. Besides, I don't know a single mother, nursing or not, who is always happy. There are always temptations no matter your state in life. If you want to never show unhappiness around your child you'd have to adopt your child out or you're already a saint!

We are human and imperfect. We are all called to be saints and work towards perfection. I realized I couldn't throw in the towel. I had to persevere, as Scripture tells us to do. Yes, we have bad days. Bad nights. Bad moments. Maybe bad weeks or months. But we also have bad moments with our jobs, our marriage, and other things. We don't quit our jobs or separate from our husbands just because we sinned or made a mistake or are no longer a happy employee or wife. We ask for forgiveness. We ask for more grace. We try again. 

The other thing I noticed was how even if temporarily it seemed best or convenient to refuse to nurse, there was still a consequence. Especially as my toddlers grew, it became easier to say "Just a minute....wait to nurse until I'm done loading the dishwasher". This was fine many times. But other times, I would secretly hope they would forget and then I'd be off the hook. Sometimes, they did forget. The result was usually a melt down within an hour. Compare it to being hungry. Sometimes, we don't want to stop to eat because we are busy working. We put it off. It works for awhile, and then we start snapping at people eventually because we are "hungry". Or, it's time for us to go to bed but our work is not done. Our body is forced awake and we get a second wind. It's hard to fall asleep after that so we are up even later, then feel terrible the next morning. There is always a consequence. I feel if I had prematurely weaned my kids, we probably would have gotten through, but the emotional damage would have reared its head at some point. The trust and security would have been damaged on some level, even if not completely. 

It may not seem like our children can really grasp it when they are three or two or younger. But as your nursling grows, they build on a foundation. Seeing you fail in your weakness, asking for forgiveness, and reconciling sets a huge stage for them to understand better the Sacrament of Reconciliation and God's mercy, and our unconditional love for them. It's easy to love God when it's easy, but it is through our trials, like Job, we prove our love. I want to love my children with the same mentality. I want to meet their needs when it is easy, but also when it is difficult. If I mess up, it keeps me humble and models humility for my child when I come back and say "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. What can I do to make this right?" 

If a child is not emotionally mature enough to wean on their own, it's also logical to assume they won't  have the capacity to fully understand any reasoning we give them for weaning. The message may be lost or misinterpreted. When it's natural for a child to have the need to nurse but are not allowed, they may internally feel as if there is something wrong with their desires. Weaning could send the wrong message that the child is hurting the parent. When I continue nursing despite my failing moments, I send the message of my accountability and responsibility to grow in virtue. They still may be too young to comprehend that, but all of these lessons can be passed down to my children later in life. When they want to get into a certain college or get a certain job but are meeting adversities, I can tell them about my roughest struggles and how I stuck with it and God helped me through. 

I won't say I believe it's always the prudent choice in every situation, but for me I am happy with my decision to stick it out. Sometimes, when I was completely exhausted, I thought about Jesus telling the apostles "So you men could not keep watch for one hour?" I learned I can push myself much farther than I thought I ever could by the grace of God.

Written by Andrea Nease

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nurturing the Marriage Relationship in the Ecological Breastfeeding Family

      There are a lot of authors that suggest overnight and weekend getaways as necessary for a healthy marriage.  If you practice ecological breastfeeding, however, these trips are not always advisable.  When your youngest child weans, maybe a trip like this will be a possibility.  What to do in the meantime?  My husband and I have a weekly two hour date night.  If I have a nursling or a clingy toddler, she comes with us.  Otherwise the youngest stays home with her brothers (our oldest two sons are teenagers).  Before our oldest was a teenager, we had a regular babysitter for date night.  If you do not have a teenage son or daughter or you cannot afford a sitter, consider trading babysitting with a friend.  Another idea is to have a date night at home by putting on a family DVD for the kids and sharing a special meal with your sweetie at the kitchen table.
      In our family we have a bedtime for the oldest kids.  This way my husband and I have quiet time together in the evening.  Our nursing baby is welcome to join us.  Once our second child came along, we realized that even if the baby stays up with us, it is still quieter and more conducive to couple time than when all the kids are up.  I know some moms who do not have bedtimes.  They most likely set aside other times for special couple time, possibly after dad gets home from work.  As your children get older, you can let them know that for the first 20 minutes after dad gets home, they need to play or read quietly so that the two of you have some time to reconnect after a busy day.
      There are other little ways you and your husband can stay connected while raising children.  You can talk on the phone during the day, exchange text messages or emails and have lunch together if your husband is able to come home from work.  You may consider asking friends what works for them or subscribing to inspirational blogs for more ideas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

St. Zelie

Zelie Martin by in identified photographer
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

I recently read the book "The Mother of the Little Flower" by Celine Martin. I had read somewhere that St. Zelie Martin did not nurse her children. This left me curious what her life as a mother was like, especially being an example by raising saints and becoming one herself. I wanted to share some excerpts from the book about her nursing relationship of her children and the illness she died from. 

On page 73-74 it reads:

"What mother felt and complained of was that she could not, herself, nurse any but her first three children. She had to give the others out to be nursed, often at a distance in the country, necessitating very fatiguing journeys for her to visit the children. 

When Therese was born, mother felt an inexpressible joy. Before her birth, she admitted having heard her singing with herself. But soon after her birth, the baby fell ill, and once so seriously that she refused even to take the mother's breast. Mamma watched over her night and day, endeavoring to feed her baby by other means which the doctor ordered."

On page 90 it reads:

"As to myself, I was only eight years old when my mother, at my request, showed me the sore; I have always kept an unforgettable memory of it. All the upper part of the right side of her breast as far as the shoulder and the base of the neck was bright red with inflammation, while darker red streaks ran through it, up and down." 

With other descriptions given in the book (such as fever, painful swelling, discharge, etc) it seriously made me wonder if she may have had a breast infection such as mastitis which spread. A quick online search revealed "Non Lactational Mastitis", which can occur in women who are not longer nursing. Although, the books does make note of some injury with a table as a child, and also mentions cancer.

From the description of the property in the back of the book, it sounds like she worked on the same property as she lived. One could naturally assume this left her very accessible to the children who were living at home. A recurring theme in the book is how St. Zelie was completely selfless by always putting her family first and patiently enduring trials. There are many tidbits that are very relatable to the daily life of mothers. 

The book is a quick read and encouraging for mothers who are striving to raise saintly children. There is also a companion book on St. Therese's father, St. Louis Martin. 

Written by Andrea Nease

Saturday, January 28, 2017

How the Catholic Nursing Mothers League Supports Breastfeeding Moms

Are you new to the Catholic Nursing Mothers League or are you just not sure what we offer for nursing moms?  Let me share how our ministry can support and encourage you!

ONLINE: We have a growing online presence.  Our website contains posts and links on breastfeeding management info, spiritual posts and links, mothers' stories, podcasts, a small e-book lending library, and a whole lot more.  We have a yahoo group that has 144 members and is a little quiet (but also a nice alternative to Facebook if you are not a Facebook fan), a Facebook group with 875 members, and a Facebook page.

IN-PERSON: Currently there are 15 registered in person CNML groups around the country.  We are always happy to add more groups to the list as we want our ministry to touch Catholic mothers in every parish!  If you feel called to lead a CNML group in your parish or town, send me an email at catholicbreastfeeding(at)yahoo(dot)com, and I can help you get started.  CNML has a leader's handbook that makes it super easy!

GOODIES: CNML provides lots of goodies to inform and encourage nursing moms.  If any of the following items will help support you in your faith and as a nursing mother, please drop me an email at catholicbreastfeeding(at)yahoo(dot)com and I will gladly send it out to you.


Prayer shawls for nursing moms

Our Lady of La Leche medals and prayer cards

One decade rosaries

Rosary bracelets (these are new - I am pretty excited about them)

Pope Francis/Nursing Madonna cards to hand out to moms you meet who need breastfeeding encouragement (these are also new)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Three Special Christmas Season Feast Days for Nursing Mamas

Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, and the Feast of Mary, Mother of God are all special feast days that celebrate the gift of Jesus, yes, but also motherhood and family life. Christmas welcomes Jesus as a baby into our world. The Feast of the Holy Family celebrates the ordinariness and holiness of the Holy Family.  The Feast of Mary, Mother of God celebrates the honor we give to Mary, as Mother of our Savior.

I was pregnant during the Christmases of 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2011.  Each of those Christmases and other ones, too, I listened to the song, "Breath of Heaven" sung by Amy Grant and cried, of course!  Many times I was in the throes of morning sickness or feeling anxious about the upcoming birth.  Other times I felt joyful while thinking about my unborn baby.  I think Mary felt some of those emotions, too, during her pregnancy with Jesus.  Then many more Christmases I nursed a baby or toddler - during the night, on Christmas morning as my older children opened their gifts, and in between cooking dinner.  Mary most likely nursed Jesus well into toddlerhood, too, in the midst of her everyday life.  Can you imagine nursing the Son Of God?  What must that have been like?

I especially enjoy the Feast of the Holy Family, because my family is so important to me, and because I am a member of the Holy Family Institute.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph inspire me to try to be more patient and more emotionally present to my family, to play more with my kids, and to just be myself - the person God created me to be.  The Holy Family experienced difficult times - fear, needing to flee to a strange country, town gossip - just like we do, but they trusted God would take care of them even when they were afraid.  They lived ordinary lives.  Mary breastfed baby Jesus, helped him learn to walk and talk, taught him to pray and most likely home educated him, because there were no local schools at that time (an inspiring fact for you homeschoolers!).  Mary also snuggled Jesus close, kissed and hugged him, and probably sang him to sleep. All the same things we do with our kids!

Mary was a gentle mother to Jesus and desires to lead us to her Son through our vocation of motherhood.  I feel my relationship with Jesus and breastfeeding my children taught me gentleness.  It is difficult to stay angry with your toddler while he is nursing to sleep in your arms!  All those years waking up multiple times per night to nurse a baby really teach you gentleness, too.  If you are nursing your first baby, just know that as your baby gets older and if you have other children in the future, your love, patience and gentleness will grow.  Ask Mary to help you be the mother Jesus wants you to be.