Breastfeeding and Theology of the Body

What others are saying….

The Theology of the Body is most often applied to the relationship between man and woman, but it also applies in a special way to the nursing relationship between a mother and her baby.  Through the act of breastfeeding, a mother gives of her very self to her baby, giving not only food but love and comfort as well.  This giving relationship reflects the donative meaning of the body.  Our bodies make sense only in light of giving them and using them for others.  And a nursing mother constantly gives her body — her arms, her breasts, her eyes — to her baby.  She is rewarded when her baby begins to smile at her, caress her, and even kick with joy as she prepares to nurse him or her….
The delicate interplay of nutrition, love, and comfort involved when a mother nurses her baby can also provide the benefit of natural postpartum infertility.  There is a form of Natural Family Planning called Ecological Breastfeeding, or eco-breastfeeding.  Eco-breastfeeding is, in fact, the original form of NFP, which often kept the birth interval at 3-5 years in primitive societies.

Maureen Armendariz
NFPI Teacher

A mother writes:  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.

What every woman, man, and Catholic bishop and priest need to know about God’s plan for spacing babies.

Breastfeeding is God’s plan for the nurturing and nourishing the baby.

Breastfeeding protects the baby from certain diseases.  If baby gets sick, it is usually milder with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding protects the mother from certain diseases.

Mother and baby are one biological unit during pregnancy and also during breastfeeding.  Like pregnancy, the breastfeeding keeps the mother with her baby.

The Church promotes systematic NFP through its many programs.  The Church should also promote the natural spacing of births with ecological breastfeeding.  This is the preferred method for couples to space their babies.  Unlike systematic NFP, you do not need a serious reason to use this most natural family planning method which usually requires little or no abstinence.  It’s a win-win-win-win situation with so many benefits involved for the mother and baby, for society, and for the Church.  And it’s following God’s plan!  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get the message out there!
Sheila Kippley




Comments are closed.