Our Silly Boy, trying to catch snowflakes on his tongue!

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Week!

I know . . . it’s the END of Breastfeeding Awareness Week! But I haven’t gotten around to writing about it, so I thought I’d take this LAST opportunity to post something.

When you think Pro-Life is Pro-Love, you think about being against abortion, and talking about the rights of the unborn and how different practices affect the unborn (even before we know of their conception!). However, we have to extend that to the baby when it is born, too, right? The fact is, breast is best! Breastfeeding is the way that God wants us to feed our babies. How many animals in the wild have you ever seen mix up a bottle of formula? Yes, that is an exaggeration, but you get the point. God gave mothers the ability to produce milk to feed their babies, and He made that milk exactly what the baby needs. Studies show that breast milk changes as the baby grows. That’s because the baby’s needs change as the baby grows.

I have 2 children, and both of them were exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life, as recommended by every medical organization. They were also continually breastfed for at least their first year, with the addition of other foods. Most health organizations recommend continued breastfeeding at least through the first year, and preferably through the second year, and as long as mutually desired. This time frame is widely variable for each mother-baby pair, even for the same mother, with different babies.

I am not saying it is easy, or that there is anything wrong if for whatever reason a mother cannot breastfeed. However, I do feel that a lot of times, when someone says they could not breastfeed, it could have worked if they had the proper education and support. It is definitely worth the effort, for both the mother’s health and the baby’s health, and the bonding between the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories, and also helps the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size, and therefore helps the mother to get back her pre-pregnancy shape and weight. Breast milk has antibodies from the mother, to give to the baby, to help the baby to develop immunities as it grows. As far as bonding, there is just something very special about knowing that your body is nourishing your baby, and that’s all your baby needs. It is very relaxing, for both mother and baby. Hormones are released that cause relaxation. For several months, a baby needs to nurse every couple to few hours, and this will mean a lot of nursing sessions, so I’d suggest making them as comfortable as possible, especially for those times in the middle of the night. I’d also suggest getting involved with a breastfeeding support group, such as La Leche League. The camaraderie of like-minded mothers will be an invaluable tool in the early months of your mothering days.

I have seen a lot of Breastfeeding Awareness information posted this week. Most of the information has been from the expected sources, such as baby and parenting websites, but one place that surprised me was a posting I saw from Upromise – they had a special on nursing apparel. I am thrilled to see so much, and I hope that it means that more people are becoming more aware, and will become more aware and breastfeed their babies to give them the best start at life. Enjoy your baby, and enjoy everything you can do for your baby. Love is the best gift you can give!

Happy NFP Awareness Week!

NFP Awareness Week is July 25-31, 2010.

This week comes along every year, and reminds us to appreciate the gift we are given in our marriage. Many couples are not aware of the blessings of Natural Family Planning, and I feel sad for them. I feel lucky that I was exposed to the truth before it was a "threat" to me. I do believe, however, that no matter when someone is exposed to NFP, they can turn from their contraceptive mentality to use the truth of God's gift of love in marriage.

I was in a bible study at my church, and at the time, was not dating anyone to consider for marriage, so marriage and children were far from my mind. One of the women in class handed everyone a cassette tape when they walked in, and nothing was said about it. I was cleaning my apartment one day, and popped the tape in to play as I was cleaning. Everything she said made perfect sense to me, and I am thankful every day for the gift that woman gave to me that night. That tape was "Contraception, Why Not?" by Dr. Janet Smith. She speaks very candidly about love and marriage and sex, and why it makes perfect sense for married love to be without contraception.

When I started dating my husband, I told him upfront that I had no intention of having sex until marriage, and he tells me now that he was impressed and relieved when I told him that. It takes a lot of pressure off a relationship to know that it is just not an option until the wedding night. Not to say it isn't difficult - it is definitely a struggle to wait, but SO WORTH IT! I didn't immediately talk to him about contraception, until it became apparent that we were moving toward marriage. At that point, I told him I had a tape I would like for him to listen to. Actually, if I remember correctly, I had him listen to another tape first that wasn't just about contraception, but incorporated the Church's teaching. Then I had him listen to the Janet Smith tape. When I asked him what he thought, he said that it made perfect sense to him too, and we moved forward in our discussions. I had already talked to my gynecologist a little bit about NFP, but not in great detail. He had given me copies of charts, but I didn't have the full course until shortly before our wedding, when I bought the home study course from The Couple To Couple League (http://www.ccli.org/). We later took a course from a teaching couple (after our first child was born, and we wanted to postpone a little while longer). Ironically enough, during that course, I became pregnant with our second child. ;-) Like I said, we were hoping to postpone, but we also knew that we were "taking a chance" by being a little bit "slack" on following the rules.

We believe that God has blessed us in His time, with the 2 children we have, and will use our openness to life to bless us with any other children he has planned for us. We hope that you will allow Him to fulfill His plan for your married love too. You will be forever grateful, as we are!
Happy NFP Awareness Week!

Pro-Life, From The Very Beginning! Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth!

If you’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth,” you’ve probably never thought to apply it to your method of Family Planning (or contraception). However, when you look at the real meaning of the phrase, contraception can easily be seen as looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Let’s look at the original meaning of the phrase: when someone gives you a gift, don’t question the quality of the gift; just accept it thankfully. The phrase comes from the fact that you can look in a horse’s mouth, at his teeth, to determine how old he is. Therefore, if someone gave you a horse, and you looked in his mouth, you were insulting the giver, instead of just saying “Thank You,” and taking the horse.

God wants to give us a Gift, too – the gift of life! He gave us the gift of sexuality, and placed it appropriately in the context of a loving Marriage; for pleasure, to unite husband and wife, and also to allow us to participate in His Creative process. However, when we use contraception, we are saying, “I’ll take the pleasure and unitive aspects, but No Thank You, I don’t want Your gift of life.” We are saying that we know better than God if we should or should not have a child right now. This can be expanded to genetic testing. If we test the baby to find out if he might have an abnormality, now we are saying, “I want to find out if your gift is good enough for me. If it’s not good enough, we’ll try again for a perfect baby.” However, if God used our love to make that baby, He had a plan for him, and for us. Who knows better what is best for us than God does? Many of the best gifts we receive are because of “unanswered prayers.”

No, you don’t have to have ten or twenty kids; just be responsible with your use of God’s gift of sexuality, in keeping with His plan for your life. Using contraception closes off the Marital Act to new life. NFP leaves it open, but allows us to postpone pregnancy, if desired. Some people consider NFP “Catholic Birth Control,” but it is really just responsible parenthood. NFP uses the couple’s awareness of the woman’s fertility to determine if they need to abstain from lovemaking, if they are trying to postpone a pregnancy. This is very different than using contraception to avoid a pregnancy. When using contraception, we take advantage of the pleasure and unitive aspects of God’s gift of sexuality, while holding back the life-giving aspect. However, when we abstain during the fertile time, we are not rejecting God’s life-giving gift; we are still leaving each act of lovemaking open to God’s Creative process, if He chooses to use that act in that way. He has given us about 70% of the woman’s cycle when she is not fertile, and still allows us to enjoy the pleasure and unitive aspects of the Marital Act during that time. It is simply a matter of learning the signs our bodies give us to recognize that time.

Many people believe NFP is not effective. This is not the old “calendar rhythm method.” With an effectiveness rate of about 99%, it is just as effective as barrier and hormonal methods of contraception, if not more so. Maybe we know someone for whom NFP “didn’t work,” and they had a “surprise” pregnancy. Most likely, if we look at the situation, they were not following the rules, and were most likely leaving the decision to God, even though they were supposedly trying to postpone a pregnancy. Is it hard to abstain during the fertile time? Of course! After all, God gave us our spouse to enjoy! However, it is even more pleasurable knowing that we are giving ourselves completely to our spouse, instead of holding back a part of ourselves – our fertility. My husband and I thank God every day for the Gift of our love, and our two wonderful children (both conceived because we “slacked” on following the rules, knowing we were “taking a chance”), who we could not imagine being without. Learn NFP, allow yourself to trust God, and you will never look back!