Archive for the ‘NFP Week 2007’ Category

Natural Family Planning: God’s Hand in My Life

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

The Anniversary Day of Humanae Vitae, July 25, 1968

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

To draw attention to Natural Family Planning Week (July 22-28, 2007), I am blogging daily on breastfeeding and natural child spacing. I apologize. My blogs for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were not posted in my absence. They went up last night. John is also blogging this week on Humanae Vitae: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at CUF’s new blog site. He will continue to blog on HV the 25th of each month for CUF until the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae (July 25, 2008).

My Mothering Experience: God’s Plan for Me

Things happened in my life that I didn’t realize were part of divine providence until way after the fact. One step led to another. Now I see God’s hand in these events and how these events led me to become a promoter of breastfeeding and natural child spacing.

A good marriage
First, I believe a good Catholic marriage was important for my ministry. I look back at my childhood friends on the block. A friend across the street and one friend who lived two houses up from our home had no siblings. I only had one sister. We were all Catholic. Two Catholic families a short distance from our home, one up the street and one down the street, had three children whom we occasionally played with. It wasn’t until high school that I became close to a friend from a large Catholic family. I was impressed with this family and later wondered if this is why I longed to have a lot of children when I became a mother.

As graduation from college came closer to reality, I realized that many of my classmates were engaged. It dawned on me that if I wanted children, I needed a husband and I began to pray earnestly for that. Early in my college years I decided to date only good Catholic men. If I became interested in someone and he wasn’t Catholic, we quit seeing each other. With prayer and putting a little effort into it (I joined the Catholic Alumni Club in San Francisco), I met John prior to my graduation in 1962. John forgets this, but at the end of our second date, he asked me if I wanted children. The answer was “Yes.” Then he asked me if I wanted a lot of children, and even how many. We became engaged on All Saints Day in Church after Mass and married the following April. We had eight pregnancies, three miscarriages and five live births. I am forever grateful that the Lord brought us together.

A good science background
In my work, familiarity with science and medical journals would prove to be an asset. How I ended up attending school at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco is a miracle in itself. I never desired to go to college in those days. My dad’s philosophy for his two daughters was that we should go to college for one year so we would know what it was like. If we wanted to go to college for additional years, then we were entirely on our own. He would only pay for the first year.

During the beginning of my junior year of high school, I was playing in a tennis tournament at Pasadena Community College. Mother Mary Wilfrid, principal of Mayfield School in Pasadena, liked tennis and came to watch me play that day. She talked to my dad during the match and offered me a scholarship to her high school. The only thing we would have to buy would be a summer and winter uniform. The school was run by the Sisters of the Holy Child and taught mostly girls from wealthy families. In this atmosphere tennis was a popular competitive sport. I took my first plane ride when I competed on this school’s team!

The reason I bring this up is because every graduate from this school went on to college. So I did. But I soon agonized about what I wanted to do with my life. After all, at college you are there for a reason, especially when you are paying for it. I finally made my decision to pursue dental hygiene at UC San Francisco. From then on I went from poor and average grades to all As in the science courses I had to take. I did so well in organic chemistry at UCLA that my professor sent me a postcard asking why I didn’t become a chemistry major. I was rejected from UCSF, however, due to my earlier grades. That soon changed with the improved grades. I received a notice saying that I was now the first one on the list for acceptance and most likely I would be entering next fall. I was elated.

It was at this university that I was required to do assignments using the medical journals at the library. When I became a mother for the first and second time and had many concerns about what was involved with natural child spacing, I made a quick trip to San Francisco and headed for that medical library to begin my research. God was behind all of this. He knew the steps I needed to take in order to be a disciple in this area.

Tomorrow: Where the real research took place for me…

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: TheQuestion-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)

Natural Family Planning: Dr. Otto Schaefer

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

To draw attention to Natural Family Planning Week (July 22-28, 2007), I am blogging daily on breastfeeding and natural child spacing.

Promoting Breastfeeding for Natural Child Spacing, Bonding, and Health

Dr. Otto Schaefer

Through his reading when a young boy of eight living in Germany, Otto Schaefer dreamed of living in the Canadian Arctic. As a medical doctor his dream was fulfilled. In a book titled Sunrise Over Pangnirtung (The Arctic Institute of North America, 2000), Dr. Gerald Hankins tells the fascinating story of this doctor who spent 32 years studying the Eskimos (or Inuit as they liked to be called), recording all his observations in his notebook, and even learning their language. His research resulted in over 100 publications, and he won many awards and honors toward the end of his life. He was outspoken about his concerns for the Inuit and about the negative impact the western ways had upon these people and their families. His favorite topic was breastfeeding.

During his early days in Canada, Dr. Schaefer spoke highly of formula. “In time, however, he realized he was quite wrong; thereafter, he could not keep quiet. From his studies and surveys of health and nutrition in infants from many Arctic centers, he had ample evidence to support his views” (ibid, p. 179). He observed the bottle-fed baby who “lacks the intimate mother-child bonding and closeness” (ibid, p. 171). Otto saw another reason for the Inuit to go back to the traditional custom of breastfeeding for three years. Prolonged breastfeeding “provided an effective type of birth control: the natural contraceptive action of lactation allowed for a desirable spacing of children” (ibid, p.180).

Dr. Schaefer wrote and spoke frequently about the effect of breastfeeding upon fertility. In 20 years he saw the Inuit experience a population explosion. In just ten years the increase in the birth rate went “from less than 40 births per 1000 in the mid-1950s to 64 births per 1000 ten years later” (O. Schaefer, “When the Eskimo Comes to Town,” Nutrition Today, November-December 1971, p. 16). A 60% jump! In fact there was a “direct relation to the mileage of the family from the trading posts. The shorter the distance, the more frequently they had children” (Ibid). In his opinion:
“There is a clear relationship between the increasing use of bottlefeeding and the shortening of lactation. This important point is usually overlooked in searches for explanations of the population explosion seen in developing countries” (Ibid).

In June 1971 Dr. Schaefer and his friend, Dr. Jack Hildes, presented their research at the Circumpolar Health Symposium in Finland (Oulu, Finland, June 1971; Unpublished; acquired through O. Schaefer.). They compared the fertility rate of the older Eskimo mothers who had nursed traditionally to the younger women who bottlefed.
Women aged 30-50 in most cases reared children in the tradition of camp life with prolonged breastfeeding as the major source of infant nutrition until native foods such as seal meat or caribou were taken. Younger women aged 17-29 in the course of urbanization have used bottle feeding at the expense of prolonged breastfeeding (ibid).
When did these women conceive? The older women conceived 20 to 30 months postpartum while the younger women who used baby bottles and formula conceived 2 to 4 months postpartum. The doctors believed that the older Eskimos relative infertility was due to prolonged breastfeeding. This natural birth spacing of breastfeeding, in their conclusion, “has been largely destroyed by the consequences of urbanization” (ibid).

In 1981 Dr. Schaefer spoke at a women’s conference in Pangnirtung. It was attended by native Arctic women from many places. Due to the popularity of the bottle, the one complaint among the women at this conference was having too many children (G. Hankins, Sunrise Over Pangnirtung, p. 182). Since breastfeeding had kept the family size in the past at 3 or 4 children, Dr. Schaefer taught that the larger Eskimo family was “one of the consequences of giving up breastfeeding” (ibid, 182).

While Dr. Schaefer was a strong promoter of natural child spacing, he also recorded the many diseases that accompanied the introduction of the bottle. In Dr. Schaefer’s opinion, “breastfeeding had a greater influence on the life and health of infants than any other single factor” (ibid, p. 179). He worked hard to spread the truth about breastfeeding to the common Eskimo people and others. He was also controversial. He spoke out for the Eskimo people when his stand was not popular in other areas of medicine. He was a bold and fascinating doctor who was able to do the work he accomplished due to the loving support of his wife. Dr. Hankins book on his life was a delight to read.

Tomorrow: The Anniversary Day of Humanae Vitae

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)

Natural Family Planning: Rose Gioiosa

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).

To draw attention to Natural Family Planning Week (July 22-28, 2007), I am blogging daily on breastfeeding and natural child spacing.

Influential Persons

In preparing this blog, I thought about people who advocated natural child spacing, who published their research, and whose work went beyond the medical journals. They were true pioneers for natural family planning. Their work and their message reached the common person. In a sense, their “natural spacing” work became an active apostolate for them. For NFP Week, I want to call special attention to two persons who were pioneers with their breastfeeding infertility work, well before I became actively involved with this topic. Both pioneers are now deceased, and I am grateful for the correspondence I had with both of them. Today I will blog on the work of Rose Gioiosa and tomorrow, that of Dr. Otto Schaefer.

Promoting Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing and How to Have a Good Marriage Preparation Program

Rose Gioiosa

In the spring of 1953 Rose Gioiosa, a nurse, conducted a study among breastfeeding mothers at the Catholic Maternity Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her purpose was to show that a mother could “space her babies naturally without the use of Rhythm, Basal Temperature methods, Fertility Testor, or other family planning techniques” (“Breastfeeding and Child Spacing,” Child & Family, 1964). After all, in other countries where prolonged breastfeeding of two or three years was the culture, breastfeeding was valued for the spacing it provided before the conception of another child.

In 1955 Miss Gioiosa’s Santa Fe research was published. (“Incidence of Pregnancy during Lactation in 500 Cases,” Am. J. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 70:1, July 1955). She concluded that avoiding solid foods until the baby is about six months old and avoiding early milk substitutes for nine months while breastfeeding is a natural means of spacing babies with an interval of 18 to 24 months. She concluded that 95% of American nursing mothers would not conceive during the first nine months postpartum as long as the nursing mother did not offer “additional supplementary or complementary formula” during that time, and that the other 5% of nursing mothers who conceived during the nine months postpartum were weaning or offering “supplementary or complementary feedings” (p. 173).

In 1961, the La Leche League Board sent a survey to its members. Part of the survey asked questions to determine if breastfeeding spaces babies (Child & Family, 1964). Rose Gioiosa did a comparison study between the results of the La Leche League survey and her own published study; this resulted in her previously mentioned article (Child & Family, 1964). This article, “Breastfeeding and Child Spacing,” was published in pamphlet form and distributed widely among La Leche League mothers. When I was interested in the natural spacing mechanism of breastfeeding, this article found its way into my hands through my La Leche League contacts in the mid-1960s.

In her comparison study, Gioiosa reached the same conclusion: “The early use of other milks or formulas, or solid foods in the infant’s diet automatically decreases the demand on the mother’s milk while she is breastfeeding. There is a subsequent decrease in the supply of milk available, and this tends to diminish the amount of time afforded by the natural spacing mechanism” (Child & Family, 1964). Rose Gioiosa’s work in the early fifties and again in the Sixties with the La Leche League survey is probably one reason why La Leche League continued to state in its manual the following:
“While a mother is wholly breastfeeding (no solids or supplements), she will most likely not menstruate at all. In fact, the average nursing mother will not have a period for about seven to fifteen months after giving birth. When she does begin to have menstrual periods, at least one and often several of these will be without ovulation, or sterile, in most cases. Only a fraction of 1% of women are likely to conceive while wholly breastfeeding before having any periods” (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 1963, p. 49; boldface not in the original).

Gioiosa’s work on natural child spacing helped to inform mothers that pregnancy could best be postponed by nursing for the first nine months or longer without the use of milk substitutes and waiting six months before beginning solid food. Her work supported the bold-faced statement above. In those days—the 1960s and early 1970s—there was very little support for natural child spacing except through La Leche League International. There was, however, an occasional article written to promote natural child spacing. My husband remembers reading when I was pregnant with our first child that breastfeeding would mean having “eight children in 16 years rather than eight children in eight years.” (Mrs. James A. Kenny, Letter to the Editor, America, February 29, 1964, p. 270) The main Child & Family article by Rose Gioiosa bolstered the idea, especially among Catholic mothers, that breastfeeding has something to contribute to the natural spacing of babies.

What’s Involved With a Good Marriage Preparation Program?
Rose Gioiosa wrote me in 1988 reminiscing about her work and promotion of natural child spacing. By then a nun with the Sisters for Christian Community, she recalled her marriage preparation work starting in 1980 in Boston. She coordinated the program which reached 1000 couples during the first three years. The fourth year she restricted the program to 26 churches (Personal letter, August 2, 1988).

There were three sessions with the best time set on Sundays from 2 to 5 PM. At the first session, a priest talked about Church teaching on marriage as a sacrament, human sexuality and responsible parenthood, and communications and adjustments in marriage. Natural family planning slides were shown at this time. The second session was on similar topics but the presenters were married couples. Interestingly, these couples had to have experience with natural family planning and natural child spacing by breastfeeding. The third session was on the spirituality of marriage. It ended with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the blessing of the engagement rings, and with engagement promises.

Educational booklets and books were offered for sale. Natural family planning classes followed and couples were encouraged to attend these classes. Sister Gioiosa reflected that there were many different kinds of marriage preparation programs in those days “with not too much input on natural family planning or breastfeeding and natural child spacing.”(ibid) She retired at the end of 1984.

How did she feel about the marriage preparation programs in general when she wrote me back in 1988? Here is her response: “I feel that a few sessions on marriage preparation are only a beginning. Our couples need the backing and good example of their own parents, relatives and other married couples, as well as good follow-up by their own parish churches and clergy, to support them and to continue this ‘beginning’. ”

Rose Gioiosa was untiring in her promotion of breastfeeding and its effect of natural child spacing. Thanks to La Leche League, she reached many mothers through her Child & Family article. She also reached many couples through her marriage preparation work.

Tomorrow: A pioneering doctor among the Eskimos

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: TheQuestion-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)