Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding Benefits’ Category

Natural Family Planning and the Importance of Breastfeeding

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

One of the best ways to space the birth of your children is with ecological breastfeeding.  However mothers cannot space their babies if they do not have the right breastfeeding  information and support.

During World Breastfeeding Week the WHO and UNICEF called for governments to support breastfeeding.  Why?  Because breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for babies and mothers.  This natural process protects infants from deadly diseases, especially in the first 6 months of life.  Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in women.

Most importantly, 820,000 children’s lives would be saved every year by increasing the rates of breastfeeding.  In 2017 only 40% of children younger than six months are fed breast milk exclusively, and only 23 countries had breastfeeding rates above 60%.

The main emphasis of the report was to stress the importance of breastfeeding services and support to ensure women and children can benefit from breastfeeding.  The recommendation is that babies be breastfed exclusively at least for their first six months, then have a diet of breast milk and other food until they are two years old.

Sheila Kippley

Natural Family Planning: Flood of research supports breastfeeding

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

I can’t remember anything like this.  I have on my desk eight breastfeeding studies published between September 6 and November 27 2019.  Sheila Kippley will be reviewing these more thoroughly next year when she does her annual review of breastfeeding research.  So for the purposes of this blog, I simply want to point out that breastfeeding is so important that every program designed for young people from adolescence to marriage preparation and/or baptism should be encouraging breastfeeding.  And not just breastfeeding but Exclusive Breastfeeding for the first six months.  And further, not just Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months but Ecological Breastfeeding for one to two or more years as Pope John Paul II recommended.  Yes, in 1995, the Pope co-hosted a Vatican conference on breastfeeding and endorsed the recommendations of WHO and UNICEF for breastfeeding one or two years and beyond. 

The September 6 research showed that breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact in the first six days causes a significant reduction in Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID).  A previous study showed that 29% of SUIDs occurred in the first six days; breastfeeding is a significant help for maintaining life.

On October 2 the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a report on the environmental hazards of manufacturing baby formulas and concluded with a very strong recommendation for doing Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months.  The next day, a commentary in News-Medical made the main points of the BMJ report stand out.  For example: If all mothers in the UK alone did Exclusive Breastfeeding, that “would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to reducing road traffic by 50,000 to 70,000 cars each year.”

Later in October, a UNICEF report lamented that one-third of children under age five are malnourished…while two thirds are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets.  Further, only 2 in 5 infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed as recommended.  One conclusion is this: “Breastfeeding cold save the lives of 820,000 children annually worldwide.”

On October 16, JAMA Network Open published an important review.  From the summary: “Breastfeeding for more than 12 months was associated with a relative risk reduction of 30% for diabetes and a relative risk reduction of 13% for hypertension.”  I love two-for-one benefits.  If mom takes care of her baby in this way, then she gets a big benefit as well.

On November 7, a report from the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology showed that vaginal delivery and breastfeeding lessen the number of new allergy and asthma cases in children up to the age of 18 years. 

November 24: A report posted by SDD Contributor (sic) was headlined “Breastfeeding may protect mothers against depression in later life.”  A couple details: “The risk of depression decreased by 29 per cent for each additional infant breastfed and by 9.3 per cent for each additional year of breastfeeding.”  Also, “Women who breastfed for at least 47 months had 67 per cent decreased risk of depression, compared to those less than 24 months.”  This was a report on an original article in the Journal of Affective Disorders

November 27 from the International Breastfeeding Journal.  This report emphasizes some of the things in the October BMJ article but with a special emphasis on Asia, Australia and New Zealand.   From the summary: “A  ground-breaking study in 2016 showed emissions [from the manufacture of baby formulas] from just six Asia Pacific countries were equivalent to 6 billion miles of car travel.”  The first sentence in the summary conclusion: “Formula feeding is a maladaptive practice in the face of contemporary global environmental and population health challenges.”

I have to admit that claims about the World Environment tend to leave me feeling either somewhat skeptical or helpless.  Call that the Macro-Environment.  But what is reported about mother-baby breastfeeding relationship—a Micro-Environment—makes sense.  Such studies report on the real experience of babies and mothers.

The emphasis in these studies is on Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months.  A problem with that emphasis is that Exclusive Breastfeeding studies show that only about half of such breastfeeding  mothers remain without periods for six months and many will lose their milk supply in that time.  The good news is that Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months (or more) is only one of the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  The key to Ecological Breastfeeding is frequent nursing according to the Seven Standards, and these Standards are simply maternal behaviors that keep mother and baby together and allow the baby to suckle frequently.  Mothers who continue to do Ecological Breastfeeding will experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (no periods).  And such mothers will use exactly ZERO ounces of manufactured baby formulas.

All of the above leads to this conclusion:  Every NFP program and every pre-marriage program and every pre-baptism class should promote and teaching Ecological Breastfeeding.  Striving to do our best for the Micro-Environment of mother and baby will automatically be the best also for the Macro-Environment.

John F. Kippley



Breastfeeding and the Environment

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Have you ever thought about breastfeeding as an Environmental issue?  Sheila and I had not until we found out about an article in the October 2 issue of the British Medical Journal.  Look at this statement in an editorial about the article:

“…helping mothers in the UK alone to exclusively breastfeed their babies would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to reducing road traffic by 50,000 to 77,500 cars each year.”

And here’s the next sentence:  “The need of the hour is, therefore, to initiate government action to make breastfeeding a social commitment, all over the world, in tune with other technologies and steps taken to reduce the human-made carbon footprint in every area.”

Note that the editorial calls for government action.  What about Church action?

This article says almost nothing about all the benefits for both baby and mother.  That’s the subject of my article due to be published soon by the New Oxford Review, “What should every priest know about breastfeeding?”

Many of our blog readers are Catholic or other concerned Christians.  Perhaps you are aware that on October 6 Pope Francis started a Synod on the Amazon in which the attendees will be discussing the Amazonian environment and its effect on the world environment.  I have seen nothing to suggest that they will consider the negative environmental effects of the manufacture of baby formula.  Of course not; who has raised the question?  That’s the significance of BMJ report.

Can you do anything to help?  If you know of anyone who might be able to get this on the Synod agenda, please forward this article including the url for the BMJ to anyone you know who will be at the Synod or has some way of getting this to Pope Francis and his fellow organizers.  This is an opportunity for everybody including the Pope and Synod members to learn some important scientific facts.

In my opinion, it is imperative for every diocese to insist that all engaged couples learn about the wonderful benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding and especially of Ecological Breastfeeding.  The difference between them is that Exclusive Breastfeeding generally covers only the first six months, but Ecological Breastfeeding can be done for over a year.  A huge additional benefit is that the frequency of suckling in Ecological Breastfeeding normally postpones the return of fertility significantly.  Our studies and those of Professor Bill Taylor show that mothers who do Ecological Breastfeeding experience a first menses, on average, between 14 and 15 months postpartum.

My wife Sheila has been promoting and teaching Ecological Breastfeeding for over 50 years.  She has done this primarily out of her concerns for the well-being of the baby and making available an abstinence-free form of natural family planning.  Her focus has been on the ecology of the mother-baby relationship.  Now it turns out that her concern for the environment of the first three years of life also has been helping the world environment.

I ask you to take this seriously even if you have huge reservations about some of the claims made by some environmentalists  Regarding the mother-baby ecology and environment of the first three years of life, there should be no doubt.  Ecological Breastfeeding is best for baby, mother, the family pocketbook, as well as for the wider environment.  The Church leadership needs to get on board with Ecological Breastfeeding.

John F. Kippley

President, Natural Family Planning International

*  *  *

The following is the editorial that Sheila received via a Google Alert re Breastfeeding.  The actual BMJ article has 27 references.

Formula costs the earth: support breastfeeding instead, says new study

At last, the pendulum has swung back to accepting breastfeeding as the norm in infant feeding. Interestingly, this has come about not because of recognition of its natural role in infant care, but because of the revelation of how much it costs the earth to produce “unnecessary formula” for babies and young children, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Environmental impact of formula

In the current study, researchers show that switching to breastfeeding instead for the first six months of life could save anywhere from 95-153 kg CO2 equivalents for each baby. Thus, helping mothers in the UK alone to exclusively breastfeed their babies would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to reducing road traffic by 50,000 to 77,500 cars each year. The need of the hour is, therefore, to initiate government action to make breastfeeding a social commitment, all over the world, in tune with other technologies and steps taken to reduce the human-made carbon footprint in every area.

Dairy and meat production drive the major chunk of the food industry’s 30% contribution to global greenhouse gases, according to this study. Powdered cows’ milk is the foundation of most infant formulas. Cows and other livestock produce large amounts of methane, second only to the oil and gas industry. Methane is a major greenhouse gas, 30 times more effective at entrapping heat radiation from the sun within the earth’s atmosphere. Also, up to 4700 liters of water are needed to produce just a kilogram of powdered cow’s milk – an enormous water footprint.

And not just that: to make safe milk from the formula, the water used must be at least 70°C in temperature, requiring heating. This pushes up the energy use to about that amount that would be needed to charge 200 million smartphones each year. Then, the nutritional content must be boosted by adding various vegetable oils: palm, rapeseed, coconut, or sunflower oil. Fish oils for essential fatty acids, fungal and algal oils for esoteric nutrients, and minerals as well as vitamins, must all be added.

And think of the 550 million infant formula cans, or 86,000 tons of metal and 364,000 tons of paper that landed in the landfill back in 2009 and the production has increased by more than twofold since then. Not to mention the paper and plastic used and wasted at each step in the production of formula, and the need to transport it to far-flung locations.

For instance, formula is produced in only 50 plants worldwide, at the outside, churning out about 4 million tons. But this means that cows’ milk and other ingredients need to be carried to these distant sites and the final product carried back all those hundreds of thousands of miles to the end-consumer – such as China’s import of 180,000 tons of formula mostly from Europe. Additionally, the formula marketing business is worth more than £5bn. These are overlooked in almost all studies so that nobody knows how these aspects affect the environment.

A total of 50% of formula-associated greenhouse gas production is due to the manufacture of follow-on formula, which is not only useless but even a potential source of harm for the child, according to the experts who regulate the practice of infant feeding.

What we can do

This is where breastfeeding comes into its own. Cheap, safe, waste-free and extremely energy-efficient, breastfeeding also preserves the health of both mother and baby. In contrast to the damaging environmental effects of formula feeds, breastfeeding is healthier for the environment and for children, reducing healthcare resources. However, all over the world, only about four out of ten babies are fed exclusively on breast milk until they are six months old.

Country-wise, the UK presents a dismally low rate of breastfeeding and an unfortunately high per capita use of infant formula – and this is even though over 85% of women who are pregnant express their desire to breastfeed.

Why doesn’t this desire translate into action? It could be due to a lack of societal support, according to the researchers. This could include multiple areas. For instance, doctors need to change their attitudes to breastfeeding, encourage expectant women to incorporate it into their post-childbirth plans, and support mothers who find it difficult to breastfeed for various reasons.

Secondly, new mothers need time and space to breastfeed, particularly if they are working. They require better access to properly screened breast milk from healthy donor mothers, stored in a well-run milk bank if supplementation is necessary.

A network of lactational consultants should be ready to support breastfeeding. Moreover, a re-affirmation of the merits and cultural acceptability of breastfeeding must be performed, to make it easier for new mothers to take up breastfeeding. In fact, say the researchers, the UK is consulting the public to drive such an attitude conversion. Calling breastfeeding “an environmental imperative”, they call upon all those interested in improving breastfeeding rates to take advantage of this good opportunity to take action to make this a reality.

The report sums up:  We need to acknowledge that “our house is on fire” and that the next generation requires us to act quickly to reduce carbon footprints in every sphere of life. Breastfeeding is a part of this jigsaw, and urgent investment is needed across the sector.”

Journal reference:

Support for breastfeeding is an environmental imperative. Naomi Joffe, Flic Webster, and Natalie Shenker. BMJ 2019;366:l5646.doi: 10.1136/bmj.l5646.

Support for breastfeeding is an environmental imperative.

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 02 October 2019)Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5646