Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Meditations on the Stations of the Cross for Mothers Part 2

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

All mothers need help from others sometimes.  Even Jesus had help from Simon in his redemptive work, and we can part of that work according to St. Paul in the book of Colossians.  Offer up all those nights when you did not get a good night's sleep, when you felt overwhelmed, and even your labor for those who do not believe in Jesus or for those nearing death.  

Don't be nervous about asking for help from your husband, mother or mother-in-law, sister, friends, or even your parish community.  Hot cooked meals, help with housework, and having someone hold the baby while you take a shower are some possibilities.  Also, those types of assistance will also help you in breastfeeding your baby.  By taking care of yourself and having help with the meals and housework, you will be more relaxed and better able to nurse your baby.

Station 6: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Every time you wipe your toddler's runny nose, change a messy diaper, wipe your baby's chin after he spits up after nursing - you are doing it for Jesus just like Veronica did.  Take a minute today to really gaze on your child and see the handiwork of God's creation and also the face of Jesus.

Station 7: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Have you ever had the experience of going to confession and confessing the very same sins as you confessed last time?  I know I have, especially when it come to sins involved with motherhood like losing my temper with my kids.  When I was a younger mother, tt was difficult for me to remain calm when my toddler or preschooler had long, drawn out tantrums.  As I had more children, gained more mothering experience and asked Jesus for help, I did mostly overcome that problem.  However, it took years, not months of working on it and asking Jesus for forgiveness over and over.  Maybe you have a similar challenge as a mother?  Jesus understands, though, and will forgive you an infinite number of times as long as you ask Him and try again.

Station 8: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem

Based on the stories about Jesus and different women in the Gospels, I know He had a lot of respect and love for women and mothers in a period of time that often did not show them enough dignity.  Honestly, this really helps my faith in the Truth of the Gospel.

What Jesus spoke to the women of Jerusalem is still true, unfortunately.  Modern society is still a mess - people not valuing the worth of every human being and people not living holy lives.  We, as women and as mothers, have the power to care for all human life through our families and communities.  Your work as a mother matters!  Always remember that!

Station 9: Jesus Falls the Third Time

Just like Jesus fell multiple times on the way to His crucifixion, our children will fall in many ways over the years.  They will physically fall when learning to walk and may even physically get hurt while goofing around or playing sports.  They also may fall in other ways such as lying to us, getting involved in things that are harmful to them, or just not listening to us when it is time to clean up or to go to bed.  However, just as Jesus forgives us over and over, we need to forgive them, too.  We need to be the face of Jesus for them and to love them unconditionally like Jesus does.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Meditations on the Stations of the Cross: For Mothers (Part 1)

Thank you to Andrea Nease, a CNML Mom to Mom Mentor and CNML Board member, for suggesting such a unique idea for a post!  Since there are so many stations, I will break up the meditations into 3 separate posts.

1) Pilate condemns Jesus to die.

You may be a mom whose child was just diagnosed with a serious illness.  You may be a nursing mom who is needing to go to extraordinary lengths to make enough milk for her baby or to keep nursing in spite of pain or food allergies.  You may be a nursing mom who was recently diagnosed with a serious illness and sadly you need to wean your baby.  You may be a mom whose family has experienced divorce, job loss or the death of a close family member.  There are many, many more examples of little ways moms "die to themselves" every day. However, don't lose hope!  By becoming human like us, Jesus experienced a lot of the same difficult situations.  How frightened He must have been when Pilate sentenced Him to death!  Tell Him about how scared you are.  Don't be afraid to cry.  Ask Jesus to hold you in His loving arms and to fill you with His peace during your times of trouble.

2) Jesus accepts His cross.

We all have crosses.  I don't know about you but when I had a nursing baby, a tantrum prone toddler or preschooler and a 6 year old at the same time, a lot of everyday life seemed like a cross (there were lots of joys, don't get me wrong, but life sure felt overwhelming).  Now that I do not have a nursing baby or a tantrum prone toddler, I have grouchy teenagers instead (smile).

Every season of motherhood will bring its share of joys and sorrows.  We need to embrace the joys and thank God for them and accept and ask God for help with the sorrows.  Jesus knew what He was about to face.  He accepted the Cross anyways, because He loves us and wants to share eternity with us.  He embraced the sorrow and the joy.  We are called to do the same.

3) Jesus falls for the first time.

Jesus is/was without sin, so His fall was a physical falling.  Ours can be physical, too, but often our "falls" are due to being human - like when you get distracted and burn dinner - or due to sin.  If we do sin, we can go to confession (if needed) and ask God for forgiveness.  Then we need to forgive ourselves, too.  Sometimes that part is harder than asking God for forgiveness!  However, once God forgives you, He forgets your sins.  That is the wonderful part.  The next step is get up and try again.  Jesus did that.  If anyone should have had the right to just lie there and not get up, it was Jesus.  He was in pain, exhausted, humiliated, and dreading what was next.  If you are not sure you can get up and try again, just ask Jesus for strength.  He is ready and waiting to help.

4) Jesus meets His mother, Mary.

Think back to when you first found out you were expecting, to when you first heard your baby's heartbeat or first saw Him during an ultrasound, to when you finally met your baby after He was born.  How joyful those times were! Having a baby isn't always pure bliss, however, when you remember those months of morning sickness or maybe you had Hyperemesis Gravidarum and were very sick the entire pregnancy and possibly afterwards.  And, of course, labor and delivery is not the most fun! It is possible that Mary's mind wandered back to all the sweet memories of Jesus as a newborn and all those wonderful years of nursing Jesus when she looked at her Son's badly beaten body.  It was bittersweet for her.  She knew Her Son needed to die such a death to save us, but she was probably also grateful for the 33 wonderful years she had with Him.  When our little ones scab their knees, hug and kiss us, bring us dandelions from the front yard, break arms, get their driver's licenses, and eventually leave home for college, we feel a little bit of what Mary felt that day - joy and sorrow mixed together.  For me, I try to focus on the good memories and to be grateful for all the special times I have shared with my children over the years.  There are also many wonderful future times to look forward to.  Maybe the thought of being with Jesus in Heaven one day comforted Mary a little bit when she met Him that day?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New CNML Option for Ministering to Nursing Moms: Mom to Mom Mentor Program

CNML decided to add a new pathway for you to minister to nursing moms in your parish and community.  Some women feel intimidated by the idea of leading a monthly group meeting or are busy with little ones, homeschooling, volunteering, etc.  The Mom to Mom Mentor program will allow you to help nursing moms as you have time in your schedule.

How does it work?
You register using the same form as the group registration.  Please note that a recommendation letter from a priest, fellow mom or close friend is now part of the registration process.  Also, we ask that you have personal experience practicing ecological breastfeeding.  Mom to Mom Mentors need to follow CNML's guidelines about answering common breastfeeding questions, not answering complex breastfeeding questions or medical or legal questions, and having the mom you mentor add her name to your sign in sheet with the CNML disclaimer listed at the top.

What ministering gifts will you receive?
CNML will then mail you the CNML core books: Breastfeeding and Natural Child SpacingBreastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood, and Getting Started with Breastfeeding: For Catholic Mothers. You will also receive Dr. William and Mrs. Sears's updated breastfeeding book.

If you would like little items to have on hand in your purse or diaper bag in case you meet a new nursing mom while at Mass or when you are out and about, just let us know.  We have nursing mother gift bags that include the following: an Our Lady of La Leche medal and holy card; info about the Our Lady of La Leche Shrine in St. Augustine, FL; a Holy Family Institute holy card; a CNML business card (you are welcome to write your name and contact info on the back); a Madonna Rosary card; a photo of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus with a quote from the Pope on the back; and a one decade rosary (because nursing moms may not have time to pray a whole rosary).  If you would like only some of these items, we can send them to you separately, just let us know how many of each item.

If you would like an infinity scarf nursing cover for yourself or a mom you are helping, let us know.  Also, volunteers are available to crochet or knit prayer shawls for you and the moms you help.

Everything we mail you is completely complimentary and just part of our ministry to nursing moms.

You will also receive the CNML leader handbook and a few other samples via email.  You will then be invited to join a facebook group just for leaders and mentors.

If you have any questions about becoming a CNML Mom to Mom Mentor, please email catholicbreastfeeding(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New Breastfeeding Research from 2018 and Early 2019

Importance of Infant Diet in Establishing a Healthy Gut

Breastmilk and Baby's Saliva Shape Oral Microbiome

The Effect of Skin to Skin Contact on Initiation of Breastfeeding, Temperature, and Duration of Third Stage of Labor

Fish Intake and DHA Levels in Breastmilk

Breastfeeding Changes Gene Activity That May Make Babies Less Reactive to Stress

Composition of Complex Sugars in Breastmilk May Prevent Future Food Allergies

Breastfeeding Protects Infants From Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Breastfeeding May Protect Mothers Against Stroke

Modifying Infant Formula Does Not Prevent Type 1 Diabetes in Children

Lactation Duration and Progression to Diabetes in Women

Presence and Profile of Innate Lymphoid Cells Found in Human Breast Milk

Marijuana Found in Breastmilk up to Six Days after Use

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What We Can Learn From the Jewish Faith about the Importance of Breastfeeding

I recently attended an online lactation conference.  One of the presenters was a lactation consultant who works quite a bit with large Jewish families.  The women she cares for are pregnant and/or breastfeeding for up to 25 consecutive years with most women having babies every 1.5 to 2.5 years even though birth control is allowed by their faith.  When I heard that, I immediately thought of my own 15 consecutive years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and about the advantages of ecological breastfeeding for spacing babies.

After listening to this exciting talk, I did a google search for more information.  I found an article in Breastfeeding Medicine on this very topic.  It confirmed a lot of what she said in her presentation.

Rabbis in the Old Testament found it "inconceivable" that a mom would not nurse her baby.  This is because Jewish people believe that God would not make something without a purpose, and it is not right for man to ignore that purpose.  Also, breasts are not seen as sexual in the orthodox Jewish community as they are often seen here in the US and in some cultures.  

According to Jewish law, the new mother should start nursing her baby for the very first time on the left side, because it is closest to her heart.  It also says that a mother should nurse her baby for at least 2 years but up to 4 or 5 years.  Even if due to unforeseen circumstances, the woman has an older baby and wants to remarry, she needs to wait until the baby is at least 21 months of age to ensure a good milk supply for the baby (in case she conceives soon after remarriage).  Jewish law also extolls the myriad physical benefits of breastfeeding.  Jewish families treat their nursing family members with extra special care.  Breastfeeding mothers are supported by given extra portions of food and are required to minimize housework and put breastfeeding first to keep her milk high in quality and quantity!  Wow!

 Because Orthodox Jewish women view breastfeeding as an "integral part of their religious lifestyle."  I don't think it is too much of a stretch for Catholic women to see breastfeeding in a similar light.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Little Way of Motherhood

Yellow RoseRose 11Red Rose On White Background

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, one of my favorite saints.  As different as St. Therese's life was from my own, it is her Little Way that draws me to her.  Just as she lived out the small, ordinary tasks of her vocation with God in mind, so can we.  You know the tasks I am talking about - nursing a baby, changing a diaper, dealing with two squabbling children, making dinner, cleaning the bathroom, etc.  We have the power to make these activities holy by doing them for Jesus as well as we can (perfection is not required) and cheerfully (most of the time).

St. Therese also taught child like simplicity.  Today's Gospel reading discusses this very topic.  We must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Another part of the Little Way is surrender.  Surrender to the fact that your child has a health issue. Surrender to the fact that your husband works late and travels frequently (sometimes this is a modifiable circumstance and sometimes not).  Surrender to the fact that your house will not stay clean for more than a half hour while you have children at home all day.  Surrender to the colicky, fussy baby who wants to be held and nursed 24/7.

Did you know that St. Therese often fell asleep during community prayer and did not like praying the rosary?  She preferred short prayers spoken from her heart.  As busy moms, we can choose the type of prayer we prefer and according to our life circumstances and not feel guilty.  A new mom or a mom of many children may desire to attend daily Mass.  However, Scripture reading and meditation may work better for her right now.  Another mom may love the rosary yet have difficulty keeping her children quiet during the family rosary.  She could try to find coloring pages of the mysteries or try an app to keep their attention.  Or she can pray only one mystery per night.  Find what speaks to your heart.

St. Therese teaches us to trust in God's love, mercy and forgiveness.  We don't need to fear Him.  Did you know that St. Therese had a radical idea about purgatory? Read more about it here.  Today, look at your child and see how he or she adores you!  That milky grin after a nursing session, that child who skinned her knee and needs a hug.  That child trusts you completely.  That is exactly how we should look to God!

Since St. Therese is a Doctor of the Church, I think it is safe to say we can follow her Little Way without worry.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

There are a lot of wonderful online resources about tongue-tie and lip ties.  Instead of reinventing the wheel, I will just list some of those links here.

Possible signs of tongue tie and lip tie:

Pain, low supply, blanched or flat nipples, mastitis/plugged ducts in mom, thrush that keeps reappearing

Low weight gain, reflux, colic, gassiness, breaking suction often while nursing, clicking sound while nursing, poor latch, refusing to nurse



Examining Your Baby for a Tongue Tie or a Lip Tie:

Is Treatment Always Necessary?

What Happens during a Tongue Tie Laser Revision?

Aftercare for Tongue Tie Revision (ask your health care provider what he/she recommends)

What should you do if you suspect your baby has a tongue tie or lip tie after perusing the above links?  Contact your local IBCLC for an assessment and referral to a pediatric dentist or ENT experienced with diagnosing and treating tongue ties and lip ties.