Archive for 2019

Natural Family Planning: A Scientist’s Work on Breastfeeding

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

H.William Taylor, PhD, was a regional field director in the West for our NFP organization in the 1970s.  Later he published several research papers concerning breastfeeding patterns and amenorrhea.  His wife Donna was also involved in the research.

His dissertation in 1989 was titled Effect of Nursing Pattern on Postpartum Anovulatory Interval. (University of California, Davis)  He concluded that supplementation, scheduling the breastfeeding and episodes of mother-baby separation all “increase the mother’s chance of ovulating after childbirth.”  “These mothering practices limit the amount of physical contact at the breast, thereby allowing the mother’s reproductive system to escape from the normal inhibitory effect of natural, unsupplemented breastfeeding” (p.126).

Following are some of Dr. Taylor’s other statements about breastfeeding and its effect upon the reproductive system.

“Nighttime nursing may prove to be more critical than daytime nursing for the maintenance of the postpartum anovulatory state” (p. 130).     Mothers who get up at night to nurse and then put the baby in a crib “may be behaving so as to hasten the return of her ovulatory cycles” (p.7).

The frequency of nursing is important for natural amenorrhea.  “When matched for daily nursing duration, mothers with an intermittent (short, frequent bouts) nursing pattern were found to experience an anovulatory interval more extended than that experienced by mothers with a more dosed (lengthy, infrequent bouts) nursing pattern.” (p. 120).

Dr. Taylor published his research on the breastfeeding and amenorrhea several times.  About one study he wrote me saying,  “When we eliminated [from our statistics] mothers who returned to work outside the home, did not let their baby sleep with them at night, introduced solids before six months and nursed less than a median of 9 times a day in the first three months, we ended up with a group that might be said to follow the natural mothering norm.  For these 55 mothers the median wait to their first menses was 15.9 months” (personal letter, 1998).

Mothers in this study found that when they breastfed for the baby they gained “the side benefit of freedom from menstruation” (p.47).

Dr. Taylor emphasizes that “the fertility-suppression of lactation may be explained by the pattern of nursing when considered within the context of a complex of mothering behaviors” (p. 95).

Those mothering behaviors are also part of the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.  Each Standard is associated with a maternal behavior that keeps the baby close to the mother and thus facilitates frequent baby-initiated suckling.  Therefore, these Standards are associated with natural infertility after childbirth.  The Standards also provide optimal health benefits to both mother and baby.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding (What every woman needs to know about breastfeeding and spacing babies.)

Natural Family Planning and the Teaching of Morality

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

The history of the Church’s teaching on this issue of chaste abstinence during the female cycle goes back to 1853.  About 1850 French veterinarians realized that mammals have a fertility cycle, and they speculated about humans.  (They speculated that the time of menses was the fertile time.  They could have been spared that error if they had paid any attention to the biblical rules against the marriage act during menses and then another five days.)  Despite the factual error, the issue reached the Vatican, and in 1853 the Sacred Paenitentiary stated that it was morally permissible for spouses to abstain during the fertile time for purposes of avoiding pregnancy provided they had serious reasons and did not engage in immoral activities during the time of abstinence.  The issue as raised again in Spain, and in 1880 the Sacred Paenitentiary reaffirmed its 1853 statement.  In Casti Connubii Pope Pius XI not only condemned contraceptive behavior but also mentioned “virtuous continence which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent…” (n. 53. Dec 31, 1930).

With regard to intent, I cannot think of any action, physical or spiritual, that cannot be made bad by a bad intention.  That’s why it is important for dioceses and parishes to require that NFP instruction provided under their auspices should include Catholic moral teaching including the call to generosity.  NFP instruction that is essentially just an amoral organ recital is seriously deficient.

John Kippley



Natural Family Planning and the Teaching of Morality

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Without the teaching of Catholic morality in NFP instruction, what results is most likely just non-hormonal contraception during the fertile time.  Without learning the specific teaching of chastity, how can ordinary folks be expected to be practice chaste periodic abstinence?  I suspect that a lot of bishops think that their NFP course is teaching chastity, but it may not be.  To find out, just take a look at the various NFP manuals.  It is not difficult to be specific.  Check out our manual.  And, of course, the other moral issue is Catholic teaching about the call to generosity and the need for sufficiently serious reason to use NFP for avoiding pregnancy.  Dr. John Billings said at one of the Collegeville summer symposia that he deliberately does not teach morality because his method stands on its own as a birth control method without any need for Church authority.  He certainly believed that teaching but thought that referring to the authority of the Church would undermine the value of the method.  I think he was mistaken, but that may still be the thinking in a significant part of the NFP movement.  Also, the social-spiritual environment has deteriorated in the last 40 years, and assumptions made in the 70s may not be valid today.

Authority.  Granted, we all have limits on what we can say, but the bishops have real authority.  And if they want the couples to learn chaste NFP, then they need to use NFPI almost exclusively or require every provider to have such teaching in their manuals and to teach it.  It is not difficult, except for the FEAR factor— fear of not being liked, fear of losing clients and money, etc. What we all need by way of motivation is not only love for God and neighbor but also a healthy fear of offending God by being afraid to teach his truths about love, marriage and sexuality.  Call it evangelphobia—fear of evangelizing.

Church leaders need to know the realities and what organizations are teaching specific morality and which ones are avoiding the subject.  In Chapter 7 of our NFP manual we include the witness of a couple who used their form of “NFP” with fertile-time immoralities for 23 years before somehow running into our material and changing to chaste NFP.  How many other  couples are there with similar experiences simply because their NFP provider failed to teach chaste periodic abstinence?

I think that it is impossible to have authentic renewal within the Church without nearly universal acceptance of Humanae Vitae and that’s also true regarding every parish marriage program.

John Kippley