Thursday, June 19, 2008
Imagine if today, scientists discovered a drug that could save 13 per cent of all the babies who currently die. Now imagine that drug also made your baby cleverer – and dramatically slashed her chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, leukaemia, asthma or obesity as an adult. Oh: and imagine it was free.
The "drug" exists. It is called breast milk. Yet in the developed world, we often stigmatise women who give it to their babies as "creepy". In the developing world, we allow corporations to tug babies from their mother's nipple, and put them on to powders that bring more profit – and more death.
I come at this from a strange perspective. My mother breastfed me until I was nearly three; she only stopped the day I wrote her a note saying I expected to be breastfed that afternoon.
Monday, June 16, 2008
So may I suggest a Prayer of the Faithful like this: “For a rebirth of chastity, for a stop to contraception, for a stop to abortion, and for a culture of life, let us pray to the Lord.” Implicit in that is a prayer that engaged couples will be chaste and that married couples will be generous in having children and use only systematic natural family planning if and when they need more spacing than they derive from ecological breastfeeding. And that of course implies a prayer that they will do eco-breastfeeding for all sorts of good reasons.
I thought this was very interesting. Thankfully we have gotten to the point where "most" faithful Catholics recognize the importance of breastfeeding and at least do so for the first several months. Actually, *most* Americans in general breastfeed, at least initially. Studies tell us that the initiation rate of breastfeeding is around 70%, however the duration is still low and at 6 months only 30% are still breastfeeding and only 14% at 12 months.
As Catholics, I think we are called to "do more" than the general population.
The Catechism of The Catholic Church states that
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
I firmly believe that the teaching of NFP MUST be taught in conjunction with ecological breastfeeding. Ecological breastfeeding teaches us that "natural child spacing" (that is a child spacing of 2.5-4 years) IS possible. Since the catechism teaches us that NFP is permissible for the use of "just" reasons (and there is MUCH debate about what THAT entails). With the use of ecological breastfeeding, the need for NFP is greatly reduced.
So, I join the Kippley's in their prayer....that married couples will be generous in having children and use only systematic natural family planning if and when they need more spacing than they derive from ecological breastfeeding. And that of course implies a prayer that they will do eco-breastfeeding for all sorts of good reasons.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I believe healthy sleep habits to be those to of our ancestors, before the invention of artificial lights, and TV's and computers. In days past, one went to bed shortly after dark and awoke shortly after day-break feeling well-rested without the need of caffeine or other stimulants.
Healthy sleep means one doesn't need an alarm clock to awaken, and they go to bed and awaken at approximately the same time each night. It is well documented that shift work is unhealthy, but even sleeping later/staying up later on weekends can take its' toll. I firmly believe in the importance of regular sleep routines.
New research is also coming out on the ill affects of nighttime lights. The best sleeping environment is a totally dark room which is on the cooler side. Sleeping in a totally darkened room has been shown to both prevent cancer and help regulate the female cycle.
So, shut off the computer, turn off the lights and go to sleep!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I was reading another blog about ecological breastfeeding and came across the comment that ecological breastfeeding is REALLY difficult. I had to stop and think about that. Do most people (who even bother to think about ecological breastfeeding at all that is) really think it is REALLY difficult?
I am on my third round of ecological breastfeeding. The little one is barely 3 months old and nursing as I type right now. Honestly, it doesn't seem difficult to me. In fact, it seems the most natural thing in the world, and actually almost lazy. I mean, you really don't have to DO anything. Babe cries and I get to sit down and pop him on. I mean what other mothering practice gives one so much leeway to spend so much time just sitting or lying down, and while doing that I can read, type, check email, surf the internet, pay bills online, eat lunch, read stories to other children, home school my oldest, pray, do leg lifts (while lying down), talk on the phone, have conversations with other family members or do Internet research.
Granted, one generally can't do all those things in the early days of breastfeeding, but with practice one becomes quite adept at MTN (multi-tasking nursing). It is the same with nursing in public. While it is awkard in the beginning, with a bit of practice one can become quite proficient at latching a baby on while carrying them in a sling and grocery shopping, or during a meeting or party or at the park or a whole host of other places.
Over the course of the last 6 years in my breastfeeding career, I have nursed children everywhere from real estate offices to the confessional, from the classroom (where I briefly took my oldest to work with me each day as a young infant) to the crisis pregnancy center where I used to volunteer as a counselor. I have taken my babies to conferences and bible studies and basically everywhere else I go.
If pacifiers and leaving a baby isn't even an option, one learns to adjust in marvelous ways. Babies are remarkably portable and home is where ever mom is.
Likewise, if one is accustomed to nursing whereever and whenever during the day, it is natural to continue that at night. After all, what could be easier than waking up at a babies slighted stir, sticking a nipple in his mouth and then blissfully falling back asleep. Having a baby sleep separately seems like so much more WORK...I mean you would actually have to get out of bed!!
Nursing just seems like the EASIEST way to calm a baby, and soothe him. Certainly easier than a pacifier which can get lost and dirty and falls out of his mouth and stolen by older sibling to use in their play.
Nursing is certainly easier than preparing baby foods and cleaning up afterwards. When one ecologically breastfeeds, there isn't such an emphasis on "starting solids" and really going through the bother of pureeing foods and spoon-feeding and clean-up....well nursing is just easier (and cleaner too!).
Babies are born to be breastfed...and even more so, I think they are born to be ecologically breastfed. It is God's intended way of mothering and nature's way of child spacing. Of course it doesn't
"work" for everyone, but I really believe that it can work for "most" people "most" of the time .