Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child (wikimedia commons)

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!)

Monday, December 21, 2020

Breastfeeding Research: June - December 2020

(1) In the journal Nature Metabolism in June 2020: Moderate Exercise Increases a Compound in Breast Milk That Reduces the Risks of Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease for the Child 

(2) In the journal International Breastfeeding Journal in July 2020: Intermittent Kangaroo Mother Care and Practice of Breastfeeding Late Preterm Infants: China

Results: Exclusive breastfeeding rates doubled at discharge and at 42 days post discharge in late preterm infants!

(3) in the journal International Breastfeeding Journal in September 2020: Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Literature Review

Conclusions: Current evidence shows that COVID-19 is not transmitted via breastfeeding, and breastfeeding may protect both mom and baby.  Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged. The benefits of breastfeeding greatly outweigh the risks.  General infection control measures should be followed.

(4) In the journal Nutrients in November 2020: Maternal Intake of Cow's Milk during Lactation is Associated with Lower Prevalence of Food Allergy in Offspring

(5) In the journal Nature in December 2020: Maternal Diet Alters Human Milk Oligosaccharide Composition with Implications for the Milk Metagenome

Results: Evidence was found that what a nursing mother eats affects the composition of the HMO (human milk oligosaccharide) in her milk which indirectly affects the microbial environment in her milk. The results of this study also have the potential to help prevent mastitis by encouraging certain beneficial microbes to become more plentiful and the mastitis causing microbes to be excluded.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Unintentional Holiday Weaning

What is unintentional holiday weaning?  This is when nursing moms are busy and distracted with cooking, decorating, and entertaining during the holidays and tend to put off their nursing babies’ requests to nurse or they nurse their babies for shorter periods of time than usual.  Sometimes this happens, too, when other family members want to hold the baby to give mom a break.  Even during this pandemic, many families are avoiding large gatherings but even one guest can cause extra stress!  All these sorts of situations have the potential to reduce mom’s milk supply, to contribute to nursing strikes, and to cause premature weaning (1).  

What can nursing moms do to avoid unintentional holiday weaning?  Change your perspective.  See time to nurse your baby or toddler as a way to slip away for a few minutes for some much needed peace and rest.  Break up the cooking over several days, buy already prepared foods if you are able, or simplify your dinner menu to only everyone’s favorite dishes.  Consider wearing your baby to promote bonding and to help keep baby content (1).

Remember that the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are only two days out of the year.  Your breastfeeding relationship with your baby will last months or years, so take care of yourself and your nursing baby!

(1) Holidays with Baby: Staying Connected

(Disclaimer: Although LLL has some content that goes against Catholic Church teaching, a lot of their breastfeeding information is well researched and well written.)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Matthew 25: 31-46

Today's Gospel reading very much ties into the life of a nursing mother.  We are like the sheep on the right of the Son of Man when He comes in His glory.  Everyday, all day and night, we feed and give drink to our nurslings with our actual bodies! Just our breastmilk keeps them alive for six months of their lives and continues to play a large role for many months and often years.  When we conceived our precious baby, he or she was like a stranger to us; it took time to get to know him or her.  As the pregnancy progressed, we noticed at what time of day the baby liked to kick and when he or she tended to get the hiccups.  Then when the big day came, we had to get to know our bundle of joy all over again.  We also clothe our babies, and we take care of them when they are sick, even when it means we get little sleep.  The last point mentioned in this reading is " prison and you visited me."  Hopefully, one of our children will not one day be in prison.  However, there are illnesses, mental health disorders, bullying, and doubts about God that may imprison our children at some time in their lives.  As their mothers, we will stay close to them, helping them weather those storms.  

Should we apply this Scripture passage to helping others in our extended family, in our community, and in our world?  Definitely!  However, we need to start by loving our family.  

Here are some quotes from Mother Teresa about the importance of family:

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”

“It is easy to love the people far away.  It is not always easy to love those close to us.  Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.”

“Whatever you do for your family, your children, your husband, your wife, you do for God.  All we do, our prayers, our work, our suffering, is for Jesus.”

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”