Comments on Ecological Breastfeeding
We are especially thankful to Sheila. Her book [Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing] has been the greatest help to educate mothers to God’s natural plan. We truly believe in God’s natural spacing, and most of all ecological breastfeeding.
In our marriage, NFP has been a blessing in that I have been able to receive proper medical care, knowing that I was making a prudent decision when needing to space children. In 1989, my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At that time, my obstetrician asked how many members of my family had ovarian and breast cancer. My reply was something like: “Well, my mom, her only sister, my cousins, my maternal grandfather’s sisters and their daughters, etc.” Because of the number of female members who had the same type of cancer, my family (my sisters and myself) was asked to be part of the Familial Ovarian Cancer Clinic’s (FOCC) study in Boston. During that time, we also noted that there were several other types of cancer in the family, including but not limited to colon cancer.
My husband and I felt that it was necessary to be prudent in our decision in regards to having children. At the same time, we also wanted to continue to be open to life. The doctors in Boston consistently asked that I go on the pill to reduce the number of ovulations that would occur and thus reduce the chance of ovarian cancer. The pill was not a viable option as we knew that the pill could act as an abortifacient. The doctors then strongly recommended that I have my ovaries removed. At that time, it was believed that those who started ovulating early or had a late menopausal history in their family had a greater number of ovulations which could act in an adverse way towards developing ovarian cancer. It certainly made no sense to us to take a pill for a healthy body or to have an organ removed which was not diseased. Yet, prudence dictated that particular testing should be done. Specifically, it was recommended to have ovarian ultrasounds to assist in picking up increased blood flow associated with ovarian cancer and yearly mammograms. When I found out that I had adenomatous polyps growing in my colon (a precancerous growth), I had to add to the picture of testing: colonoscopies as recommended by my physician.
My husband and I have been fortunate in being able to have 8 beautiful children. I recently gave birth to our newest little son and turned 46 shortly after his birth. When our babies have been around 7-8 months of age, I have my colonoscopy. At that time, I can feed the baby some solids and skip a nursing, therefore not worrying about the medication taken during the procedure affecting the baby. When my menses returns somewhere between 12 to 15 months postpartum, I make an appointment for an ovarian ultrasound as it is preferred to be done at a particular time of the cycle. Finally, when the baby is done nursing, I have my mammogram. All in all, considering the number of children we have and the period of extended infertility from EBF, we have not had to use [systematic] NFP that much.
Ecological breastfeeding has had enhanced benefits for our family. The doctors in Boston specifically wished to reduce the number of ovulations occurring over my lifetime. Having had an extended period of infertility from ecological breastfeeding coupled with the lack of ovulation during pregnancy, I have had a natural reduction in the number of ovulations. We also have been thankful for the fact that there is a connection (well known in the medical community) between nursing a baby and a reduction in breast cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the more she is protected against breast cancer.
Certainly there has been a great deal of trust in the Lord. That however is part of our beautiful faith. We have prayed to achieve a balance between being generous and prudent, believing that our children need a mother. Strangely enough, we have been told by some that we are not trusting in the Lord as they feel that we should not be using [systematic] NFP at all. We believe that we have had a serious reason to use it for a short time. At the same time, we have had many individuals who have said that we are not being prudent and that we should be removing my ovaries. Again, we have prayed to achieve a balance. Thus it is in prayer that we have made our decisions and certainly we are thankful that we have 8 beautiful children, our eldest being 19 years of age. We have always asked the doctors after testing if there were any real medical reason not to have another child. Once the doctors gave the go ahead, we let God do the rest and felt that we were not to question new life each month.
The Lord is kind and merciful. We are thankful not only for our children, but for the gift of ecological breastfeeding, its benefits and the ability to use [systematic] natural family planning when necessary.
This note is extremely overdue. I experienced difficulty in breastfeeding my first baby. After talking to several local lactation consultants and La Leche League leaders, I called you, Sheila, directly for advice. Like other breastfeeding advocates, you were very helpful, supportive, and encouraging. To make a very long story short, I now believe that I overused a pacifier and subsequently ran down my milk supply. I could never regain my confidence and my milk supply. I was very depressed that I ruined something so important to me. I used an SNS for several months and nursed my daughter until she was 15 months old (though she could not have been getting much milk from me).
I now have a boy who is 11 months old. We have enjoyed a successful nursing relationship and plan to continue it for a while. My sister introduced my husband and me to NFP when we were engaged. Virtually every Catholic I know contracepts and I wonder if we would be also were it not for my sister’s introduction to NFP. Thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! A couple of weeks ago, with the Babywise book in my hand, and questions about what to do for my baby girl, I listened to God’s prompting to call you. I’m so glad I did! I’m sorry I wasted even a minute contemplating Ezzo’s “method.” My daughter is now 5 months old, and she’s an indescribable blessing. I’ve been following your ecological breastfeeding plan, and she’s thriving. It is sometimes challenging, but I’m glad that I’ve stuck with it and allowed her to grow and change at her own pace, instead of trying to “train” or force her to behave a certain way.
I’m getting to know my child better each day, and she and I have such a strong bond. I’m upset that Ezzo has the nerve to pass his own opinion and preferences off as good medical advice and “Godly” child care! Surely God intends us to put our children’s needs before our own, and not regard them as accessories that we should mold to fit our lives and our wants. I was stunned to read his quote that a child’s schedule should serve the parent, not the parent serving the child’s schedule. Heaven forbid a baby should be inconvenient! Thanks for being there when my baby and I needed you.
I read your book Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing when I was pregnant and I found it very inspiring and helpful. I went 21 months without cycling after my first was born and 25 months after my second was born. My third son is 7 months old and I am not cycling yet. My husband and I do not really use the Billings method or the sympto-thermal method. I have found that breastfeeding is enough.
I have three children and we are currently pregnant with baby #4. I just finished reading both of your books, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing and Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood. We cannot thank you enough for following God's plan for your life and helping numerous Catholic parents discover NFP, ecological breastfeeding, and the true beauty of natural mothering.
To be honest, I get the third degree about co-sleeping at my pediatrician's office at each well check up. At our last visit I got a little annoyed and finally replied that I've had four children and have breastfed all of them during the last nine years and that Dr. McKenna's research and Dr. William Sears have demonstrated through studies that co-sleeping can be done safely. I co-sleep with all my babies in the hospital despite them saying it was against policy. I just told them I was aware of the "policy" but to myself I thought, that doesn't mean I have to agree with it! Co-sleeping is frankly a survival technique after an emergency c-section and a vertical scar with staples. If I didn't nurse lying down it would be so painful to hold the baby near my incision. I'm convinced that many mothers give up breastfeeding because they do not get the support from their husband, the medical profession, their Church, and society.
My daughter is 17 months old and I have not had a postpartum cycle. I am amazed by the reaction of friends and family when they hear that I am still nursing and that I have not had any return of fertility yet. A certified NFP teacher of five years was floored when she found out I had yet to have a cycle. I want to personally thank you. Thank you for listening to God's call while you started your own family. Thank you for not going your own way, but the path that he called you to. So many of us would not be reaping the benefits that God intended for all of us if you hadn't. My only regret is that I did not nurse my first two children. I will always feel a sense of loss when it comes to that.
I am a Catholic Lactation Consultant. I have two children both exclusively breastfed by the intercession of Mary because I had a breast reduction surgery. I currently work for WIC serving a low income population. I loved your book on Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood. It is a treasure. I worry because in the Church I don't see a strong support for breastfeeding. My pastor is very open to new ministries in our parish. In the future I would like to start a breastfeeding class, and also do the Madonna Chapel with the rosary that you have in your book.
I am a Catholic mom of two beautiful children. I have ecologically breastfed these children out of a desire God placed in my heart and not much more thought beyond that. I read Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood about a year ago and it brought so much peace as it reaffirmed my beliefs about the importance of this bond. Lately I have been trying to research my vocation as wife and mother so that I can cooperate fully with God in my vocation. I have been saddened by books by good Catholic authors, but they seem to be folks who have children sleeping through the night soon after birth, a modern common parenting theme. This seemed to influence their parenting advice which I didn't feel fully comfortable with. In my continued research regarding my vocation I was excited to come across works on Theology of the Body and felt this should also be explored with regards to breastfeeding. I began to read some articles on this theology and ran across a stumbling block that caused me to research more. But after tears and frantic research, I pulled out Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood again and here Sheila so eloquently put into words all that God had led my heart to in my search to resolve this issue. And it seems to boil down to this: that an interpretation of the Theology of the Body which is not applied to Ecological Breastfeeding is certainly incomplete.
When a baby is adopted, there are some things that aren't possible. Nourishing the baby with your own breastmilk is one of them. But there are many other forms of natural mothering that are still possible--being responsive to the baby's needs, holding the baby while feeding, and sleeping with the baby. When we got our baby, we put her right between us in bed from the very first night. That is a usual thing in many parts of the world, and adoptive parents are told that the baby may be used to sleeping with the foster mother. For us, sleeping with her really made the bonding fast. I think it makes her feel very secure. Our baby is so cute now, the way she so trustingly raises her hands up to be picked up. She can say mama when she does this now. She likes to go to bed because she is with mom and dad.