Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Even Grizzly Bears Ecologically Breastfeed!


                            Category:Ursus arctos horribilis - Wikimedia Commons

My kids and I watched a really interesting documentary about a female grizzly bear becoming a mother to two cubs. It turns out after the female conceives, the embryo does not begin to develop until she has sufficient fat on her body and is ready to hibernate.  This is true even if mating occurred six months before hibernation.  I find this fascinating!  Then in the documentary the mama bear gave birth to two cubs weighing only one pound each and they nursed for 2 months before she even awoke from hibernation.  

I would imagine the cubs were awake some of that 2 months but also slept a lot while nursing.  This is an example of breastsleeping, a term coined by Dr. James McKenna to describe how a baby often sleeps while breastfeeding.  Just like with the mother grizzly bear, human mothers often sleep while their baby breastsleeps.  Breastsleeping falls under standard #4 and #5 of the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  Grizzly cubs nurse for a year and stay close to their mother for 2-3 years (standard #1, #6 and #7).  The cubs nurse from their mom when they are hungry or need comfort (standard #2 and #3).  So as you can see, grizzly bears naturally practice ecological breastfeeding.  Even though we are different than animals in many ways, I think we can be inspired at how grizzly bears and other mammals nurture their young through breastfeeding.

In the documentary, the commentator mentioned that the mother grizzly bear was a first time mother and very new at mothering.  She made some mistakes but definitely learned from them because it was a matter of survival for her and her cubs.  We are the same, right?  We make mistakes.  We try to learn from them.  We think we need to be perfect mothers but we do not.  Remember what St. Teresa of Calcutta said?  She said, "God has not called me to be successful.  He called me to be faithful."   God knows what is in your heart and how much you love your children!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Would You Like to Help Nursing Moms within the Catholic Nursing Mothers League ministry?

There are lots of ways to help nursing moms within the Catholic Nursing Mothers League (CNML) ministry.  Here are some ideas:

1)    Pray for those in the three CNML facebook groups and possibly offer your insights or empathy for their struggles.  If you would like a one decade Our Lady of La Leche or Nursing Baby Jesus rosary specifically for praying for the moms in the CNML facebook groups, send an email to CNML at catholicbreastfeeding(at)yahoo(dot)com.  

Catholic Nursing Mothers League | Facebook

CNML Ecological Breastfeeding Group | Facebook

CNML Motherhood Group | Facebook

2)    If you knit or crochet, offer to make a prayer shawl for a nursing mom.  I currently have a list of several moms who would like one.  

3)    Become a CNML leader and/or Mom to Mom Mentor.  CNML Leaders lead meetings and book studies, and Mom to Mom Mentors work one on one with moms.  If you would like to be both, mention it on your registration form.  You will be happy to know that I finally upgraded the registration form so it is very easy to fill out online!  In addition to the registration form, you will also need to have a reference letter from a priest, someone you know through a ministry with which you are involved, or a friend. 

Once you are officially a CNML Leader and/or CNML Mom to Mom Mentor, you will receive a Leader's Handbook via email, and I can also send you any supplies for your group such as breastfeeding books or nursing mom gift bags or Our Lady of La Leche or Nursing Baby Jesus medals.  You will also be added to the CNML Leader facebook group for support.  If you are interested in taking part in a breastfeeding training program to help you feel more confident helping nursing moms, please let me know.  We can do it over email, phone or even on Zoom!  I would love to host a study group to help CNML Leaders and Mom to Mom Mentors feel more confident helping nursing moms!

CNML Group and Mom to Mom Mentor Registration form

4)    Attend the monthly CNML online meetings and help encourage other nursing moms.  We have one on the first Monday of the month at 7 PM Mountain time and also one on the first Thursday of the month at 9 AM Mountain time. 

Catholic Nursing Mothers League online meetings

5)    Share your breastfeeding journey by writing a post for the CNML blog.  If you have an idea for a post, send me an email so we can discuss.

Catholic Nursing Mothers League website

6)    Make a donation to CNML.  We are a non-profit 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the state of New Mexico, so your donation is tax deductible.  Donations go towards buying books, supplies for prayer shawls and nursing mom gift bags, postage for mailing gifts to nursing moms, $10 a year towards a state charity fee, and in non-pandemic years, the cost of having a table at the NM Breastfeeding Taskforce Conference.  We have no paid employees, only volunteers.  If you would like to make a donation, you can send a check to CNML, 1915 Camino Redondo, Los Alamos, NM 87544.  Thanks so much for your generosity! 

If you have any other ideas, please let me know!  I am always open to suggestions!

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Breastfeeding Research January - June 2021

 COVID Vaccines and Breastfeeding: What the Data Say

Association between breastfeeding and new mothers’ sleep: a unique Australian time use study

Breastfeeding in women with rheumatic diseases

The need to study breast milk as a biological system

New insight into why breastfed babies have improved immune systems

The safety of asthma medications during pregnancy and lactation

The effect of kangaroo care on breastfeeding and development in preterm neonates

Breastfeeding, Physical Growth, and Cognitive Development

Duration of breastfeeding, age of introduction of complementary foods and allergy-related diseases

Tandem Breastfeeding: A Descriptive Analysis of the Nutritional Value of milk When Feeding a Younger and an Older Child

Distinct Changes Occur in the Human Breastmilk Biome Between Earlyand Established Lactation in Breastfeeding Guatemalan Mothers  

Update on the transmission of Zika virus through breastmilk and breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and wheeze related outcomes in high risk infants 

Daytime nap and nighttime breastfeeding are associated with toddlers’ nighttime sleep

Breastfeeding and the risk of childhood cancer: a systemic review and dose response meta-analysis

Exclusive breastfeeding moderates the association between prenatal and postpartum depression

Association between breastfeeding and child overweight in Mexico

Friday, May 7, 2021

My Memories of Becoming a Mother and the Breastfeeding Dance


As Mother's Day quickly approaches, I am finding myself thinking about when I first became a mother.  This upcoming Mother's Day weekend is extra special to me, because my oldest son is graduating from the same college I graduated from while pregnant with him.

Thinking back to the early days of motherhood, I remember the sleepless nights.  I was so tired that I even feel asleep while talking on the phone one evening!  I felt like I knew very little about being a mother.  I was weepy and overwhelmed.

The first week of breastfeeding was rough!  My son was not latching well but I did not realize it since I had never nursed a baby before.  A nurse came to to our apartment to weigh him and she misread the scale.  She told us he was gaining well and was almost back to birthweight.  However, a day or two later the lactation consultant reweighed him and said that he was not only not gaining weight, but he was still losing weight!

I so wanted breastfeeding to be successful!  What helped me persevere?  The support of my husband and the support of our family doctor and lactation consultant as we learned the breastfeeding dance.  Why do I call it the "breastfeeding dance?"  Because the mom learns baby's signals for nursing and how to care for him and the baby stays close to mom and practices latching and suckling in her warm, loving arms.  In the beginning when a couple is learning to dance, they step on each other's toes and awkwardly try to practice the steps.  However, with time, the dance becomes second nature and enjoyable and the couple doesn't need to concentrate so hard on the steps.  Breastfeeding is like that.

Yes, I remember a lot of the challenging parts of becoming a mother: labor, birth, sore nipples, and impatiently waiting for the lactation consultant to call on the phone.  However, I also remember the beautiful parts, too: the milky, sleepy face of my son after he nursed to sleep, the smiles and giggles, and the sweet smell of my son after his warm bath.  All those wonderful days of motherhood and especially breastfeeding far outweigh the difficult days!

What memories do you have of becoming a mom? 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Catholic Motherhood

The Catholic Nursing Mothers League (CNML) has always tried to encourage breastfeeding women in their vocation of motherhood since our beginning in 2006.  However, we have decided to expand that aspect a little bit more in the hopes that we can support mothers who are no longer in the breastfeeding season.  Pregnancy and breastfeeding are at the beginning of motherhood and even for those mothers blessed with large families and with many years of nursing babies and toddlers, eventually the youngest child weans and mothers are still living the vocation of motherhood.  

In our current CNML Facebook groups, the discussions tend to revolve mostly around breastfeeding which, of course, is very fitting since that is such a large part of our ministry!  However, even breastfeeding moms sometimes need to talk about how to fit in a date night with their husbands, how to make dinner when you have a fussy baby, what to do when soccer practice is right at dinner time, or how to make friendship with other moms a priority.  These are just a few examples among hundreds you can imagine.

We are still brainstorming.  If you have any ideas to share, we would love to hear them!  Our first step is we added a Facebook group called CNML Motherhood Group.  Our hope is that with your help we can build up the member base.  The focus will be on the spiritual, emotional, and practical aspects of motherhood including our prayer lives, how we take care of ourselves, our marriages or being a single mom, taking care of our children and our homes, and other ways we contribute to our communities, etc. The next step will be a book study.  We have not started working on this yet, but we hope to get it rolling soon.  We plan to start with an existing book on Catholic motherhood and read and discuss. 

I am excited about CNML’s expansion in helping Catholic moms live their motherhood vocations.  I hope you will join me!

Monday, February 15, 2021

"the Visit"

The part I love most about being a member of the Holy Family Institute and also the Pauline family is their focus on Eucharistic adoration.  The Pauline family refers to adoration as "the Visit" because you are visiting with your friend, Jesus.  I love that there is a visible presence of Jesus...the Host in the monstrance.  I love that there are no rules about how to "visit" with Jesus.  You can pray the rosary (or Theotokos version of the rosary for nursing moms).  You can read Scripture or read from a spiritual book.  You can even listen to praise music with your phone and earbuds.  Or you can sit and "visit" with Jesus as you would a friend sharing all your joys and worries.  You can also sit silently and just gaze at Jesus adoringly. 

I think "the Visit" is something a nursing mom can do.  Remember how you need to take care of your physical health by eating enough and drinking to thirst and resting when the baby is sleeping?  You also need to take care of your spiritual health, too!  "The Visit" is just one option, but I think it is a great one! If your church has an adoration program and schedule, you could try to choose an hour with no adorer and then bring your baby along.  Another option is to choose an hour with one or more adorers and then ask if it would be okay for you to bring your baby.  If you think an hour might be too much for your little one, when you are out and about doing errands and your baby falls asleep in her car seat that snaps out of its base, you and your baby can stop at your local adoration chapel for 10 minutes.  If you really cannot get out to an adoration chapel, there are online websites that do a live video feed of their adoration chapel. 

My friend's father passed away in 2020.  When I was reading his obituary, I saw that he wrote a book several years ago called The Blessed Sacrament in Our Lives.  I asked my friend for a copy, and she sent it to me.  It is really a sweet book and perfect for nursing moms!  The meditations are only about a page long and very relatable.  I think there are only used copies available online but you might be able to contact Mr. Dorencz's church for a copy if you are interested.

Sunday, January 24, 2021


Mastitis is a fairly common malady in nursing moms.  It is the inflammation of breast tissue due to many possible reasons such as infection that was introduced from cracked nipples or from other sources, engorgement, inadequate removal of milk, skipped feedings, pressure on the milk ducts from tight clothing or sleeping positions, stress, and fatigue.  

Possible symptoms of mastitis include: a hard lump or area of engorgement that feels hot, tender and red; pain in the breast without a visible area of hardness or engorgement; red streaks extending outward from the swollen area; fever; chills; and flu-like symptoms. 

If you think you may have mastitis, start home treatment right away.  Get in bed with your baby, drink extra fluids and have someone help you around the house.  Nurse on the affected breast at least every two hours (and also nurse on the other breast, too).  If it is too painful to nurse on the affected side first, start on the other side until you get a letdown and then switch back to the affected side.  Use heat (a warm washcloth or a warm shower are good options) and light massage before nursing your baby.  Offer the affected breast first and massage the breast from the area of the plugged duct towards the nipple.  You can also try breast compressions and dangle feeding.  After nursing, hand express or pump for a few minutes if your baby did not seem to empty the breast enough and use cold compresses for comfort.  You can also consult your health provider about using a pain reliever.  If your symptoms are fairly mild and you have only had them for less than 24 hours, continue with home treatment.  If you are pretty sick or your symptoms do not improve within 12-24 hours, please call your health care provider.

(1) Mastitis - Ask Dr. Sears (the Sears website does discuss artificial contraception but it definitely discourages it and very much promotes natural child spacing through breastfeeding.)

(2) Plugged Ducts and Mastitis - Kellymom (the Kellymom website has a few pages that are contrary to Catholic Church teaching but their breastfeeding info is excellent!)