Archive for February, 2020

Natural Family Planning and Ecological Breastfeeding

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

The liberal-Catholic America magazine recently (Jan 24 online; Feb 3 print) published an article about natural family planning in which we were criticized because some bottle-feeding mothers have apparently said that our advocacy of Ecological Breastfeeding has made them feel guilty.

We have responded, and in the event that you have difficulty reading the original plus our comment, we are publishing our reply  this week.

Simcha Fisher has written much with which I agree.  I certainly agree that couples should be free to choose among the various NFP options.  See “Your Right to Know” at, the website of NFP International.  We certainly agree that the Church could and should be doing more to help couples learn about NFP.  We would add, however, that NFP education under Catholic auspices should teach not just physiology but also the moral teaching of the Church.  We agree that cost can be a real issue, and we are among the most economical providers.

But I certainly have some reservations about the fairness of her article.  Why does she criticize the content of a book that has been out of print, except at a collector’s price, for a dozen years? (The Art of Natural Family Planning by John and Sheila Kippley).  I write on behalf of Sheila and myself.

In particular, she has been unfair in her criticism of our teaching of Ecological Breastfeeding by writing that “Some women who bottle fed their babies said the book made them feel like they were sinning.”  This calls for a response.

Here’s the problem.  In 2006 a doctor told an audience that breastfeeding is “a system of nutrition, information and protection.”  Today the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding are well known, but what about “information and protection”?  A baby is born with a weak immune system and is largely dependent on his mother.  If a breastfeeding baby has a “bug”, mother’s breast receives it.  She develops antibodies and then transmits them to baby in subsequent nursings.  This is clearly a divinely designed ecology.

As a result, breastfed babies enjoy better health.  They have a reduced incidence of at least 21 specific diseases from allergies to urinary tract infections plus another six general benefits such as having a better response to vaccinations and having fewer sick days.  In addition, breastfeeding mothers enjoy some wonderful benefits such as decreased risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid cancer and more.

This places the guilt issue in perspective.  Let us assume that almost all parents realize two basic facts of life: 1) parents have to make sacrifices for their children and 2) parents should do what is best for their children within the parents’ abilities.  Now, what if parents realize that breastfeeding is best for their baby and they are able to breastfeed but simply don’t want to be bothered?  I think that it would be quite natural for them to feel guilty for not doing what is best for their child.  Simcha implies that we have erred in making a strong case for Ecological Breastfeeding.

Should medical specialists not do breastfeeding research?  Once we know these things, should we not share them?    In reality, we are doing what we can to prevent guilt feelings.  What if the above couple’s baby should develop one of those diseases such as Crohn’s disease?  How will they feel when they re-learn that breastfeeding offers significant protection against that disease?

Again, once we know these things, how can we not do our best to share them?

The benefits of breastfeeding are dose-related.  Ecological Breastfeeding maximizes all the benefits of breastfeeding-in-general and maintains a mother’s milk supply so that she can continue to breastfeed for as long as she wants.  And it gets better. “…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.”  That’s from the British Medical Journal, Oct 2 2019 (

Two important questions:  Why aren’t dioceses and parishes teaching these things as a normal part of preparation for marriage?  Why isn’t every NFP program teaching the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding?  The Seven Standards are simply maternal behaviors associated with extended breastfeeding infertility.

Why is Ecological Breastfeeding an important part of NFP instruction?  The answer is simple: Ecological Breastfeeding is the most natural form of baby spacing and is abstinence-free.  The research has been done repeatedly.  Mothers who do Ecological Breastfeeding will experience, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (no periods).  It is normal for a mother doing Ecological Breastfeeding to go 1 or 2 or sometimes even 3 years without a period.  To menstruate at 6 months postpartum is the exception.

Simcha is concerned about costs.  So are we.  NFPI is an apostolate founded to help couples live the faith and is funded solely by donations.  Our service is very economical, but our very low costs do not mean low quality.  For the cost of a couple lattes, anyone with access to the internet can download our NFP manual.  For the cost of the bouquet the bride will toss at her wedding reception, the engaged couple can take the personally guided NFPI Home Study Course by email.  Also, parents who do Ecological Breastfeeding will save about $2,000 with each baby by not buying formula. Lastly, If and when couples plead poverty, everything can be free.

We are helping babies and mothers be healthy.  We are helping parents save money and naturally space their babies without abstinence from the marriage act.  We are even helping to reduce carbon emissions.  For such advocacy and teaching we are accused of being “censorious.”  For trying to help, we plead guilty.

John F. Kippley
Co-Founder, Natural Family Planning International  (One of the URLs given in Simcha’s article is incorrect.)