What's going on at CCL?

The Couple to Couple League (CCL) is the largest provider of Natural Family Planning (NFP) services in the US, and it has recently gone through an extreme makeover. Making a break with the Kippleys (author of: Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood, The Art of Natural Family Planning), CCL is now promoting a more high tech, streamlined, and scientific approach to NFP. They have also adopted an altered approach to breastfeeding and child spacing and for that I give them two thumbs up! The new materials are really great, and the new student guide is a must have, with simpler rules, great computer graphics, and even a new software program (Cycle-Pro) to help chart your cycles.

Overall, I think the changes at CCL are GREAT, but I think the changes related to breastfeeding are SUPER GREAT! And here is why:

Two years ago my husband and I signed up to become NFP instructors for our diocese. We were required to receive training through CCL (this is typical of most diocesan offices), and we filled out the forms to enroll in the CCL teaching training program. This was prior to the new CCL materials and, in our application form, we were required to explain why we didn’t ecologically breastfeed our children. It was at this point that I realized just how intertwined CCL and the promoters of Attachment Parenting/ecological breastfeeding had become. If you want to know more of my thoughts on this, see a recent post of mine on this topic.

Now, I exclusively breastfeed my children, but I do not sleep with my babies, nor do I avoid pacifiers, etc. Under the old CCL regime, as NFP instructors, we would be expected to not only teach NFP, but to promote a particular style of parenting and child spacing: ecological breastfeeding/AP. At the time, we couldn’t sign the form saying we had personally practiced this type of parenting, nor would I sign anything agreeing to parent this way in the future. I explained my reasons fully in an attached essay, and we were granted an “exemption” so to speak, and because CCL was soon changing this part of the materials, we were permitted to move forward with the teacher training.

I saw the old regime’s ecological breastfeeding advocacy as problematic for the following reasons:

1. For many couples, fertility returns far sooner than couples would like, even while using ecological breastfeeding. When this happens, they are left distrusting many of the other things they learned in NFP classes.
2. Physicians, lactation consultants, and mainstream medical journals have not adopted the term “ecological breastfeeding.” This creates a disconnect between CCL and the medical community. Again, this leaves couples feeling misled about what they have learned in their NFP courses.
3. Ecological breastfeeding is REALLY difficult, and in many cases it isn’t possible to practice this method of breastfeeding—particularly in the very common situation where mom has to work part time.
4. Ecological breastfeeding is more of a parenting style/philosophy and CCL should focus on teaching NFP and promoting breastfeeding, and avoid entering into the parenting philosophy debates.

Thankfully, CCL agreed with many of these common objections, and as a result has altered their approach to NFP instruction and breastfeeding advocacy. With the new method, CCL continues to promote breastfeeding and its effect on fertility, with terms such as formula feeding, mixed feeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and continued breastfeeding. These terms are generally accepted in the medical community and explained fully in the new materials.

More importantly, CCL has moved away from prescribing breastfeeding in order to delay the return of fertility, and they will no longer refer to breastfeeding as a “form of NFP.” Rather, CCL promotes breastfeeding as part of responsible parenthood, a method of feeding that is unquestionably best for babies, and usually always best for mothers and families. While wholeheartedly promoting that “breast is best,” CCL no longer claims that a particular kind of breastfeeding is best for a particular family, and they no longer imply that an early return of fertility is the result of a mother not breastfeeding correctly. Alleluia!

Finally, CCL now provides clear and ACCURATE guidance on the return of fertility after childbirth, no matter what feeding method a family chooses.

As for how these changes came about, I don’t know the details, but I know that a lawsuit with the Kippley’s settled in 2007. For those unfamiliar with the Kippleys, they helped to found CCL, and are the authors of the original “The Art of Natural Family Planning.” Referred to as the NFP bible, the book was overwhelming in size and very intimidating for couples to flip through 400+ pages of material. The new method is significantly streamlined, and high tech, with a manual ½ the size of the old book. I think these changes will be a great help in promoting NFP and breastfeeding to a new generation of couples.

Disclaimer: While I am a CCL instructor, the previous statements and opinions are my own and I am not writing on behalf of CCL.

43 comments:

I am really grateful for this post. I had heard about the coming changes and the new software program, but had not heard that the materials were available already.

And I COMPLETELY agree with everything said about "ecological breastfeeding". I felt insulted by the implication that "E.B" is a morally superior way to parent/bond with baby (after my first baby with whom I found it impossible to fully practice "E.B") and very betrayed by the information in the old NFP book after a very quick return of fertility after my second child (while failthfully following all the "rules" of said method).

May 27, 2008 at 11:33 PM  

Yes, the new materials are out and ready for purchase. Just go to the CCL's website, www.ccli.org.

I highly recommend the new NFP book, even if you own the old one. In addition, under the new method there is a one night course dedicated to return of fertility after childbirth...so for all those mamas out there looking for some extra space, this course is for you.

May 28, 2008 at 8:46 AM  

Red- Thanks for the post.

My husband and I are looking to find out more information about NFP and move toward that goal. Does every diocese have NFP instructors and should we go directly to the diocese or is there a unified directory of sorts that will put us in contact with that information?

Things have changed for us in many ways in the last few years, not the least of which is our improved faith life as well as my husband's new job. Neither of which approve of our current methods.

For those who have read my comments before and maybe connecting some dots, if you have any questions about my decisions, please ask.

Thanks Red.

May 28, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

Boy, this post made me feel old! It suddenly dawned on me how much younger all you wonderful moms are!! I am in my mid-40s, not so old, but when I took the CCL course in the mid-90s, the Kippleys were the ONLY source that I found articulating this approach not only to natural family planning but to extended breastfeeding and Theology of the Body and other Catholic teachings on marriage. (Well, when I stop to think about it I remember the very early issues of Canticle Magazine had many wonderful essays on these topics, including excerpts of Fr. Virtue's dissertation on breastfeeding and Theology of the Body.) I have a Ph.D. and am married to a Ph.D. and we read a LOT. My point is that back then, before the internet was what it is now, the Kippleys were real beacons in the dark. Trust me, the medical establishment and society were NOT half as open to breastfeeding/etc as they are now. Not even a quarter as open. I am well beyond my NFP days--and even my extended nursing days are almost done--so I have no reason to know about all these new CCL materials and approaches. So whatever the changes, updates, new leadership, and new generations, I give the Kippleys real credit for their courage, vision, sacrifice, and perseverance. I was never one for "master plans," but back then in the mid-90s, they sure encouraged me to follow my heart despite what I was reading and hearing from my family, our doctors, our friends, and even some priests. It made all the difference to me.

May 28, 2008 at 9:02 AM  

This is very interesting to me. Although there are lots of young married couples in my parish, we NEVER hear a word about NFP, so I appreciate any and all information. Thanks!

May 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM  

Red, thanks for this post, I think that you spelled everything out very clearly and I appreciated learning about the distinction between the original CCL method and the revised one. We actually never had a CCL book and just used the one that my doctor gave us before our marriage, so I think we might invest in the new one. It's so funny because ET has been doing my charts in Microsoft Excel since before we were married, which annoyed the heck out of the doctor helping us out with NFP, so he'll be excited to hear that there is an actual NFP computer program now! :)

May 28, 2008 at 9:49 AM  

My husband and I took a CCL course in 2002 while we were engaged, so we had the old manual. I actually appreciated the breastfeeding information and was glad there was a natural way of postponing pregnancy other than NFP. I do think breastfeeding can be a “form of NFP.” It’s nice to have that amenorrhea and not have to worry about periodic abstinence.

The problem I had, though, is that the old NFP manual seemed to imply that unless you follow the seven standards of ecological breastfeeding exactly, your fertility will return right away. I couldn’t ecologically breastfeed because I had to go back to work. I did pump three times a day, however, and fed on demand when I was at home, and I still experienced over a year of amenorrhea. The old NFP manual just assumed that all mothers can be home full-time and didn’t offer any charting advice at all for going back to work and pumping, or for breastfeeding but not ecologically breastfeeding.

Just out of curiosity, does the new manual offer advice on charting while breastfeeding, or on how to use breastfeeding to avoid pregnancy, even if you work? I did appreciate CCL’s advice on how to use breastfeeding as NFP, but thought it was too all-or-nothing and offered little advice to moms like me who had to work and pump. At the same time, though, I would hate to see a mother feel like she has to wean just to make NFP easier. I do agree with you that NFP instructors should not be required to ecologically breastfeed. Not everyone can do it.

This is kind of off-topic, but I don’t really like how CCL and the STM method are considered the “standard” method of NFP by the Church. If a diocese requires engaged couples to take NFP, it’s almost always a CCL class. The reality is that there are many other methods of NFP, such as the Creighton and Billings methods, which may work better for some couples. Every woman’s body is different, and the STM method just doesn’t work that well for some couples, at least not without significant abstinence.

I am currently expecting my second (unplanned) child. I have very long, very irregular cycles due to PCOS, and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the STM method doesn’t work very well for me. Granted, we did manage to successfully avoid pregnancy for almost four years, but still, NFP has been maybe 70% effective for us instead of 99% effective as touted. I’ve had people recommend the Creighton method, saying that works better for people like me with long, irregular cycles and confusing mucus. I think I’ll look into that after I have this baby. The thing is, a lot of couples may take a CCL class, have a couple surprises, conclude that NFP doesn’t work and start contracepting, not realizing that there are other methods of NFP that might work better. I don’t understand why one method is touted as “the best” and is often the only one offered through the diocese. Couples should be made aware of all methods of NFP and choose the one that works best for them.

May 28, 2008 at 10:09 AM  

My husband and I took a CCL course in 2002 while we were engaged, so we had the old manual. I actually appreciated the breastfeeding information and was glad there was a natural way of postponing pregnancy other than NFP. I do think breastfeeding can be a “form of NFP.” It’s nice to have that amenorrhea and not have to worry about periodic abstinence.

The problem I had, though, is that the old NFP manual seemed to imply that unless you follow the seven standards of ecological breastfeeding exactly, your fertility will return right away. I couldn’t ecologically breastfeed because I had to go back to work. I did pump three times a day, however, and fed on demand when I was at home, and I still experienced over a year of amenorrhea. The old NFP manual just assumed that all mothers can be home full-time and didn’t offer any charting advice at all for going back to work and pumping, or for breastfeeding but not ecologically breastfeeding.

Just out of curiosity, does the new manual offer advice on charting while breastfeeding, or on how to use breastfeeding to avoid pregnancy, even if you work? I did appreciate CCL’s advice on how to use breastfeeding as NFP, but thought it was too all-or-nothing and offered little advice to moms like me who had to work and pump. At the same time, though, I would hate to see a mother feel like she has to wean just to make NFP easier. I do agree with you that NFP instructors should not be required to ecologically breastfeed. Not everyone can do it.

This is kind of off-topic, but I don’t really like how CCL and the STM method are considered the “standard” method of NFP by the Church. If a diocese requires engaged couples to take NFP, it’s almost always a CCL class. The reality is that there are many other methods of NFP, such as the Creighton and Billings methods, which may work better for some couples. Every woman’s body is different, and the STM method just doesn’t work that well for some couples, at least not without significant abstinence.

I am currently expecting my second (unplanned) child. I have very long, very irregular cycles due to PCOS, and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the STM method doesn’t work very well for me. Granted, we did manage to successfully avoid pregnancy for almost four years, but still, NFP has been maybe 70% effective for us instead of 99% effective as touted. I’ve had people recommend the Creighton method, saying that works better for people like me with long, irregular cycles and confusing mucus. I think I’ll look into that after I have this baby. The thing is, a lot of couples may take a CCL class, have a couple surprises, conclude that NFP doesn’t work and start contracepting, not realizing that there are other methods of NFP that might work better. I don’t understand why one method is touted as “the best” and is often the only one offered through the diocese. Couples should be made aware of all methods of NFP and choose the one that works best for them.

May 28, 2008 at 10:09 AM  

Sorry for the double post!

May 28, 2008 at 10:11 AM  

I use Creighton, and it is taught in some parishes as part of marriage preparation. I think that each diocese does things differently, because I have taken classes in several different places and I have never seen any official CCL material.

I think that some sort of NFP class should be required to get married in the church, not just an intro to NFP in pre-cana. Just my opinion. I plan to teach my children about NFP when I have to have sex talks with them and as part of our homeschool health curriculum once they hit puberty. I think that all women need this information, even if they have a celibate vocation or are in a position to always be totally open to life they need to know about how fertility works because this can also be an important indicator of other health issues.

I usually find it shocking how little doctors seem to know about this, and how quick they are to put women on the pill to deal with cycle irregularities rather than trying to figure out what is wrong. I did see a Creighton trained who did a lot of testing and helped me understand my cycle irregularities. She works mostly with couples who are dealing with certain kinds of infertility, and she has amazing results.

May 28, 2008 at 10:53 AM  

Can I just go on a little rant now and say that I think that people need way way way more and better marriage preparation in general, including spritual direction individually and as a couple? I look at some situations and I just can see that people are swimming upstream, they have a Church wedding but they have no sense of what that even means or how to access the graces that come with the Sacrament. This is a heartbreak, and a real problem for the modern church. Even people who are sticking around and trying to raise children in the Church have so many odds against them if all they and their children have for religious education is CCD through 8th grade. The devil is fighting hard against families right now and we need to be better equipped, the things that might have been good enough for previous generations are just not doing it now.

May 28, 2008 at 10:58 AM  

I agree with Mary Alice on needing more marriage prep.

Also, about Creighton. Our diocese teachers teach Billings. There are several Creighton instructors in my City and I'm not sure about CCL currently. A couple of years ago, no CCL.

I learned CCL as my first exposure to NFP before I became Catholic. Following their rules (which I hope have been cleared up now) would have meant over 8 months of abstinence after our 2nd child. That's when I learned Creighton. It's great for confusing mucus patterns, for infertility, for the "transition" times of return to fertility while breastfeeding and I am assuming pre-menopause. The strongest points about Creighton is that their charting is standardized in a way that CCL isn't and that they have MD's trained that can read charts and use them for diagnosis purposes, to point to what tests to run, etc.

There is a reproductive endocrinologist in San Antonio, TX who changed her practice to NFP only (Creighton) plus she won't do any infertility treatments that aren't morally licit by the Church's teachings--her practice is booming and her rates of fertility success are equal or better than regular fertility doctors. Creighton has an especial strength in areas of tough cases.

I will have to check out the new CCL materials, now. I'm glad some of the weaknesses have been addressed by this organization that I really respect.

May 28, 2008 at 11:24 AM  

Mary Alice--agree 100%! But where I live, and I think for many others, finding a spiritual director is like trying to find a blue chicken. We have more NFP instructors than spiritual directors.

May 28, 2008 at 11:49 AM  

Mary Alice, I could not agree more. We got married four years ago and went on a "Tobit" weekend for marriage prep, which was enjoyable and we learned stuff about each other but it was not very Catholic at all. We also spent several hours with our Priest and that was also good but was not really Catholic. As I said, NFP is *never* discussed at our church or in our Archdiocese. It seems that the Powers that Be don't want to frighten away young Catholics. I think it's a shame and it makes us feel very alone as non- contraceptors.

May 28, 2008 at 2:11 PM  

Hi anonymous (the second one)- Glad to hear that the Kippley's paved the way for the current NFP "revolution". (I'm being hopeful here!)
You say "so I have no reason to know about all these new CCL materials and approaches." But you never know who you may meet that may need this info! :)
Let's spread the word!

May 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM  

One other question as far as NFP goes (and this maybe opening up a much larger discussion)

How do you, if any of you do, deal with stigma about NFP within your own families? Do any of you feel pressured by family members to not just use artificial contraception but as well not to have any more children, and how do you deal with and or overcome those alienating and frustrating opinions and comments from others.

May 28, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

Great post, Red, and great question, Bethany! My hubby, GG, and I have dealt with our fair share of flak from family members/non-NFP users, especially since we are having babies at an alarming rate. :) More than anything they worry about our "sanity" while having "too many" children...

One thing we always try to emphasize is how *wonderfully* open NFP makes a couple as they embrace the possibility of life every cycle! I try to communicate our joy in this--how we've come to truly embrace our vocation as parents. GG is also really good at reminding us to be beacons to our family (not complaining too much about our kids, a new baby, etc.) as representatives of NFP and of an openness to life.

All that said, they still think we're a little nuts, but they're probably right on some level! ;)

May 28, 2008 at 8:45 PM  

B-Mama, I totally understand, we also used to get some grief about being young parents from my side of the family...But it's very interesting...Since losing our second child, Lucy, my family has been nothing but happy for us when we tell them that we are pregnant. I think that they realize now that every child is a gift, that we can't second-guess why God created this life, that we must never take a child for granted...In any case, one of the many ways that Lucy has blessed our family is for all of us to realize that a conceived child is in no way random, and that we must receive these gifts gratefully.

I also agree with B-Mama that it helps tremendously for family members and friends to see a thriving family - how can anyone argue with a family filled with joy and love? That doesn't mean that we paint a false picture for them that things are always perfect...Just that they get the feeling that underneath all of the imperfections of daily life, there is an abiding sense of joy.

May 28, 2008 at 10:17 PM  

Bethany, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who has embraced NFP and openness to lots of children who doesn't suffer disapproval from those they love most for embracing NFP. I totally empathize and will pray for you and for all who endure this.

The naysayers will always be around, so I think it's good to try to rise above it.

In addition to what B-mama and Kat said, one thing that helps me rise above this disapproval is to get together as often as I can with large families with older children, to observe the happy spirit among the children and the friendship and love between the spouses. To me, there's a clear difference in family life between a "fertile" family (an unmistakable youthfulness, adventurousness, long-suffering, generosity, and sparkle) and an intentionally "sterile" family. It's not that I'm trying to compare in order to be judgmental, but observing these thriving big families gives me some perspective on what we're doing all this for.

May 28, 2008 at 11:45 PM  

Thanks so much for the heads-up about the CCL overhaul! With my first baby due any day now, I was recently looking over my Kippley book to see what we would need to do to aim for some healthy space before a second child. I was not happy with what I found -- a lot of preachiness about ecological breastfeeding, which I can't do because I'm the primary breadwinner, and next to no information about when marital relations can be had until fertility returns to a normal cycle.

I will definitely check out the new book, and also ask my Catholic OBGYN practice about the other methods, based on the comments I've read here saying they're better for confusing mucus patterns. (I also live in a diocese that is crawling with CCL classes, mandated for engaged couples in many parishes, but there isn't much exposure to Creighton or Billings.)

May 29, 2008 at 7:50 AM  

Thanks for everyone's openness, prayers, and suggestions. I will try to keep them in mind as we go through the next few years that may or may not be blessed with more children and may or may not be cursed with comments and disapproval from others.

I feel I should probably mention that my side of the family is not Catholic , not even really protestant. I think they believe in a God, but organized religion is NOT their thing. And they definitely believe in birth control; while they love my sister and myself as well as my children, they see children as an extra cost, an expense that often hinders the family's ability to do things. For multiple reasons (most of which go back to my childhood) I am almost afraid to have another child because I don't want to have to tell them. They have made it perfectly clear that they don't want us to have any more children- actually telling us (me) not to have any more, "I think you have enough, you don't need any more."
What maybe worse is my rather Catholic mother-in-law has "suggested" in so many words that her son get a vasectomy so as not to have any more children.

I feel very little support.
Wish us luck. We're going to need it.

May 29, 2008 at 9:04 AM  

Hi! I am new to this blog, but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in. First, I am in the process of becoming a certified fertility care practitioner for the Creighton Model. My husband and I have been using this method for almost 5 years (since we got married). We have 2 amazing children under 2 years old (we've lost 2 as well, early in pregnancy. I loved the piece on kindergarten in heaven!) and we hope to have at least 1 more (I'm almost 37). I wanted to comment on the question about how families react to NFP. Although my mother is Catholic, I'm not sure she really gets WHY we decided to use NFP. I remember asking her one day while I was engaged what her and my father used for family planning. She seemed a little stunned and said she didn't remember and changed the subject very quickly. Then when I started pursuing becoming a teacher of NFP, she just sort of looked at me funny. She still doesn't seem to understand, making comments about how much work it is to become a teacher. My father just says that we need to stop having kids since we have a girl and a boy and our family is complete. I think the best way for me to deal with my family is to try to educate them in a loving, quiet sort of way. I will tell them a story about a client of mine that is uplifting. For example I just started with a new client who has been trying to have a baby for 7 years. They have had alot of testing and have been diagnosed with "unexplained infertility". After our first meeting, she told me that even if she was not able to become pregnant, she had hope for the first time in years. I think that's so powerful and humbling. Do I think it touched my parents hearts? I'm not sure. But I think they handle that better than me trying to logically explain why we do this. And if all else fails, I ignore the comments about not having more children, or your getting too old, or you won't be able to afford them, etc and turn towards other couples who understand. And lots of prayer for my family to at least respect our decision to use a natural method.

On another note (which is opening up a whole other topic), I live in Charleston, SC and the closest OB-GYN that is certified as a Creighton Model doctor is outside of Charlotte, NC. My OB "poo-poos" all forms of NFP, and I haven't had any luck finding another OB who even will be open to the possibility. It is very frustrating to me especially since my charts revealed medical issues that could have possibly prevented one of my miscarriages. We need more Catholic MD's to at least become educated in the various forms of NFP to assist couples in this journey. I can't tell you how many times my OB has asked me what form of "birth control" I want to use, and I have to re-educate him on NFP. :(

Sorry for the rant...I am so glad to have found this support system! As a Catholic wife and mother, I have not found much support in our parish. We don't have any forms of mother's morning out, or a mom's group or anything like that. You all are amazing women and I hope to learn alot from your posts! Thank you and God bless! A.

May 29, 2008 at 9:38 AM  

Update: talked with my OB this morning and he said that their practice had been involved in helping rewrite the CCL materials. How cool is that?! He said the postpartum part is the hardest, largely because temperature patterns are so irregular when you're waking in the middle of the night to breastfeed. He gave me a preview of some of the alternative signs to use.

The only thing that confused me is that my doctor made it sound like the new version is still being completed, but on the CCL website it looks like the new book is already available. Maybe he just wasn't informed of the release date? When did the new book actually come out?

May 29, 2008 at 11:44 AM  

Since this post has taken a bit of a turn towards educating others about large families and NFP, I have a question. My mother-in-law and several close dear friends think that it is selfish to have large families (mostly they are reacting to the sort of family with 6 or more kids). They think that it is detrimental to the environment and that it is selfish because you are "using more than your share" of the resources and there are so many poor and hungry kids in the world that it is more noble to adopt than to create more etc etc etc. All I can think to respond is saying your nuts, humans are God's highest and dearest creations but does anyone have a better response to this. Anyone have some research to disprove the whole overpopulation myth?

May 29, 2008 at 3:11 PM  

Anonymous - checkout this short article from Janet Smith:

http://aodonline.org/aodonline-sqlimages/SHMS/Faculty/SmithJanet/Publications/ColumnsforAmyFoundation/PopulationScare.pdf

May 29, 2008 at 5:14 PM  

Let me try again:

http://aodonline.org/aodonline-sqlimages/SHMS/Faculty/SmithJanet/Publications/ColumnsforAmyFoundation/PopulationScare.pdf

May 29, 2008 at 5:15 PM  

For some reason, the link is getting cut off. Just google "Population Scare: Fast and Loosey with the Facts."

May 29, 2008 at 5:17 PM  

I find that we have to constantly justify ourselves with our families about whether or not we are having more children, or if we're 'done', or if we're 'trying'. A lot of these questions come from my family, who are Catholic! My Mom and Dad are supportive of us, but it seems like everyone else has an opinion about how many children we have or should have. For the record, we have two, I lost a baby at 10 weeks pregnant between the two and I'm 40. My OB's office has been *awful*, really pushing artificial birth control, even after I tell them that we are Catholic and don't use artificial birth control. My last OB told me (and I am not kidding about this even though it sounds crazy) that another patient of his was Catholic and her husband couldn't get her pregnant, so they just had a neighbor man get her pregnant, so they didn't violate any rules of the Church! It's very frustrating, but when people give me grief, I just remind them that my husband and I are deciding with God how many children we have and we're really, really happy about it.

May 29, 2008 at 7:12 PM  

Joanne,

I loved what you said: "I just remind them that my husband and I are deciding with God how many children we have and we're really, really happy about it."

I think sometimes many couples forget that God is involved in all of this!! Very well said! :) Thank you! A.

May 29, 2008 at 9:00 PM  

To counter the claim that large families use too many resources, calculate and memorize the following ahead of time:
1) sq feet per person in your house
2) KwH per month per person of electricity
3) people miles to the gallon of your vehicle (mpg * ave. # people in car)
4) # vehicles per person in household (NOT per driver)
5) garbage cans per week per person

Ask how many people live in the questioners household (probably one or two which makes your math easy)

Then tell them to be as environmentally responsible as you are they have to live in no more than x sq feet, use no more than y electricty, etc. Almost certainly their #s will be higher. Shake your head in dismay.

May 29, 2008 at 10:16 PM  

I, for one, am VERY disappointed in CCL's abandonment of breastfeeding as a form of NFP. Infact, I canceled my subscription with them and will no longer donate. What a shame!!!
Jennifer

May 29, 2008 at 11:26 PM  

jennifer in mn: I think you might have misunderstood?
The Lactation Ammenhorea Method is respected even outside of CCL. Many women have found a very late return of fertility while breastfeeding, and some even without abiding by the strict guidelines of the Method. But not all women find that round-the-clock, on-demand breastfeeding actually delays the return of fertile cycles for even 6 weeks postpartum!
I think what CCL is moving away from is the prescription of LAM practices as proper parenting, or in order to "properly space" children. This was more than implied in the old literature.
Also, they had some misleading statistics in their book about the effectiveness of LAM (what they call EB) and claimed that it guaranteed 6 months of infertility with less than a 1% chance of conception. I believe that other studies of LAM have shown upwards of 2% (and that is only for very small sample size), but anyway, my point is: I expect the new CCL literature and training regarding the use of breastfeeding for the purposes of prolonged amenhorrea to rely on more updated studies of LAM, and then leave the parenting choices to the parents.

May 30, 2008 at 12:51 AM  

I am one of those who was sad to hear of the proposed changes. Ecological Breastfeeding is the original Natural Family Planning - it is the plan God built into women's bodies to space their children a distance which science has repeatedly confirmed is safest for mother and children. Our true loss is that it ceased to be practiced and we have lost the knowledge of what exactly makes it "work." *This* is the true tragedy.

B/c of this loss, many women try, but still get anywhere from slightly to dramatically less than the spacing which is the norm in rural societies free of mother substitutes - 2.5-3 years. These mothers are to be lauded, though, for seeking to follow the natural law as revealed in our bodies. And we are well-served when reminded that the practices that often lead toward increased spacing are *all* practices that benefit mother & baby *regardless* of the spacing that results. Mother/baby togetherness & frequent suckling at the breast lead to dramatic physical & developmental benefits - not the least of which is a near elimination of the risk of breast cancer (as the number of menstrual cycles dramatically lowers).

The emotional security that results from the lack of mother substitutes is enormous, and quantified in numerous peer-reviewed, controlled studies. As Mother Theresa exhorts us, we are called to do our best and leave the results in the hands of God - let us continue to give our babies all of ourselves as we leave the results (spacing) in His hands (using systematic NFP as a backup if necessary and led to it by God).

For good reason is Charity so frequently depicted in religious art as a woman nursing her child. It calls us to total self-donation. Our society wants us to do anything but that.


As to what is said specifically in this blog; I'm rushing to get this post in before my children awake, but my quick thoughts are:

-Mothers, if you want ecobf to succeed (and not everyone does for many reasons, many very legitimate), you must have *very* frequent suckling. I know the 7 Standards say "take a nap," but you don't have to - what your body needs is lots of suckling, including comfort ("non-nutritive") suckling. It's important that baby nurse during a whole nap at least once a day, whether that nap is while you sleep, on your lap, or wrapped on you in a sling. What's even more important is lots & lots of frequent suckling - our society has totally forgotten that it is completely normal for a 12 month old to be nourished *entirely* at the breast, 2-3 times an hour (for little bits each time), and be thriving in health. It is completely normal for an 18 month old to nurse several times at night while mother sleeps. (There are physical and other circumstances that make it undesirable for some mothers - that's okay! It's just important to understand it's *normal* b/c many mothers ask me, "What's wrong with my child?" when their baby does these things.)

If your baby nurses every 2, 3, or even 4 hrs, you are very unlikely to have long delay of fertility. If it happens, it's more a result of personal factors, like diet or genes. If your baby doesn't nurse more than say every 3 hrs, even as a newborn, it is not surprising to see AF back at 6wks (although most women still go longer than that.) If he's on heavy solids by say 8 months or 12, yes, you're almost certain to have an early return of fertility. (Again, THAT's OKAY if your circumstances require it. I just want folks to know that it's not "ecological bf'ing" if it's one of these circumstances. It's "exclusive bf'ing" or some other kind.)

"3. Ecological breastfeeding is REALLY difficult"

-Eco bf is the furthest thing from really difficult. Once I learned that my expectations of normal were completely off and quit fighting it (others don't fight it; I did), my life was the simplest I could imagine. Baby goes everywhere in a sling, and I never carry bottles or jars of anything. No cribs, no bouncers, no 50 million tools - just me, sling, and baby. Truly, the most important "rule" is - nurse unrestricted, w/o expectations of how often it should be. If you frequently let 3 or more hours go between feedings, any spacing you get is a freebie. Some will get lots, some will get none.

"and in many cases it isn’t possible to practice this method of breastfeeding—particularly in the very common situation where mom has to work part time."

-I did do it while working full-time, though, with my oldest - that *was* complicated, but it worked for us b/c I did pump twice a day (for 18 months!), didn't give her a paci ever (which would have had her suckling all day w/o me, needing me less at night), and les her nurse absolutely unrestricted night & weekends. (I didn't do this on purpose for ecobf, though - I didn't know it existed. I was SHOCKED when AF took 27mo to rreturn.) I am sure it won't work for everyone, but it *can* work - and again, those benefits were enormous even if the spacing results hadn't happened.

Breastfeeding early & often, giving myself totally to my child's needs in this way, has been my greatest formator of virtue over the last 10 years. I'm so grateful for my accidental ecobf, b/c I've learned self-donation I never knew existed (which JPII taught us is what Love is) & it has led me to a greater respect for the natural law in every other aspect of my life.

"4. Ecological breastfeeding is more of a parenting style/philosophy and CCL should focus on teaching NFP and promoting breastfeeding, and avoid entering into the parenting philosophy debates."

Teaching breastfeeding is just as much a "parenting philosophy." In fact more, b/c ecobf IS natural family planning. Or lack of. Our planning is non-existent; God does it all here, by His grace & mercies. He has planned my children all 2.5-3 years apart, due to no merit of my own, and I am forever grateful. I hope to spend my life working to understand the physiological mechanisms behind ecobf so that those who wish to use purely natural, completely un-"high tech," family planning, in response to the call of our Church to obey the natural law and live the theology lived in the body, can do so, all the while understanding and never judging that some may choose or be unable to do so, w/o any fault of their own.

(BTW, "anonymous": The statistic of 1-2% before 6mo if exclusively bf'ing is not CCLI's - it's used worldwide by numerous governmental & non-governmental organizations.)

God bless you!

May 30, 2008 at 7:47 AM  

I agree with what loveyourmother said. I'm not confused about what they are teaching, though I am concerned that when I asked CCL to clarify their position, they never responded. I'm a long time (10+ years) member of CCL and I was ignored by them and my concerns were not addressed. I guess they don't need my money or support.

What I find most distressing is that no one understands a bell curve. Many women get at least 9 months of LAM, then there are those who have an early return of fertility (or at least their cycles--doesn't mean you are fertile) and those who have a late return of fertility. It's a continuum and any one woman will fall somewhere along it.

I have no beef with women who don't want to follow the breastfeeding "rules" for LAM and just start observing fertility right away, however, to deny every woman who takes NFP from CCL the knowledge of the rules of LAM as previously taught and to ENCOURAGE bottle feeding and early introduction of solids is doing no one a favor. There is nothing wrong with having knowledge and then allowing the couple to make their own parenting decisions. CCL has taken that away from women with this new course study.

May 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM  

Just to clarify, in no way does CCL encourage bottlefeeding or early introduction of solids. They encourage breastfeeding, but accept that not all women will choose to breastfeed according to the old ecolbf rules. They have tried to do away with the guilt tactics practiced by the old ecolbf camp (if your fertility returned early it was because you were doing something 'wrong'). I'm a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding and if they were in any way encouraging alternative ways of feeding, I would not be a teacher!

A bell curve is the proper way to look at this--assuming women follow ALL of the ecolbf rules. Yet even if a mother follows all the 'rules' over 40% will have fertility return before their baby is 1 year old...and this is too short of a space for many families. If breastfeeding 'works' for you as a form of NFP--lucky you! But for many mothers it just doesn't provide enough space, and not knowing how to interpret their returning fertility signs can result in an unexpected pregnancy, and a resulting distrust in the church and NFP.

I find it interesting that the strongest proponents of ecolbf have extended amenorrhea themselves, and so they think everyone's body will work just like their body. The studies show (done by the Kippley's!) that over 40% will have fertility return prior to their baby's first birthday, and this will result in children around 18 months apart. 40% is just too high a number to teach ecolbf as a form of NFP.

CCL has addressed their new stance publicly in some recent additions of Family Foundations Magazine. They are a large organization, and I think we should extend them some grace, and acknowledge that they did not have time to respond personally to every letter written to them. We must also keep in mind that women get VERY nasty about this topic, so many of the letters they received were likely less than charitable.

May 30, 2008 at 10:06 AM  

Hi. Can someone explain to me what CCL says about your fertility after giving birth (whether breastfeeding or not) and when you start to monitor fertility? I have been taught (through Creighton) that if you are exclusively BF, you are infertile for 56 days. Then you have a variable return of peak type mucus and you will ovulate BEFORE your first period. You manage this by beginning to monitor and chart at the end of your bleeding from giving birth, even though you are still infertile for a few more weeks. I am just curious how CCL works it. I am asked alot about the different methods, and I have a little more knowledge of the Billings Method since the Creighton method evolved from that. I am just not educated on the CCL like I should. I would appreciate any information! Thanks! A.

May 30, 2008 at 10:12 AM  

And just to clarify a bit more: I have 6 children. My cycles have returned between 3 months and 10 months. Hopefully I'm being charitable. I still find the way CCL has handled the breastfeeding "component" is wrong headed. The are not giving full info to allow woment to make an informed decision. I know that I am not the only one distressed by this and I know I feel that CCL hasn't done anything to allay our fears.

May 30, 2008 at 10:24 AM  

With my first “spacing” experience, my period returned at 12 months and then it took me several months to achieve pregnancy. I was very grateful for that two-year spacing. So I would be near that 40%. To complete the picture, 56% of the women who did EBF remained in amenorrhea at 12 months postpartum and one-third of them were still in amenorrhea at 18 months. We were very conservative in our study and counted any spotting –even during the first 56 days since that knowledge was not known then—as a first period. We also eliminated from our statistics those women who had a very long amenorrhea, such as three women who went 41 and 42 months postpartum.

It was said that the “strongest proponents of EBF have extended amenorrhea themselves.” Not necessarily so. I ran into a CCL promoter of many years for whom it did not work, but her relatives were waiting at 2 to 3 years postpartum to achieve pregnancy while breastfeeding. She wrote a letter to CCL asking that they reconsider not dropping EBF because EBF does space babies, such as for her relatives. I asked her if she received a response from CCL. The answer was “no.” We have heard this lack of response from others. Two theologians listed on the CCL stationery wrote CCL about their concerns, mostly about the theology. Did they receive a response from CCL? “No” said one; the other theologian said “Never.”

The inference that the people who wrote letters to which there was no response wrote a “nasty” letter is a gratuitous assumption that does not advance the discussion.

Regarding LAM, there are three conditions necessary for it to be effective. When this is treated on page 161 (similar implication also on page 254) of the Student Guide, only two of the conditions are stated. In my opinion, that is a statement that could lead to misunderstanding and unintended pregnancies in the first six months postpartum and therefore a correction sheet should be inserted in all copies sold. We asked CCL to do so, but to the best of my knowledge, that has not yet been done. I suggest that teachers who use that manual should make the correction verbally and have the students write it in.

One respondent considered that a 40% return by 12 months was insufficient for many. There is no contradiction between practicing EBF and practicing fertility awareness. According to the two studies we have posted on our website (Remfry and Prem), only 6% of breastfeeding mothers become pregnant before their first period no matter how they breastfeed. Experience shows that many, many mothers have ample signs of fertility when they ovulate prior to their first menses.

The statistics still stand. On the average, mothers who practice EBF will experience 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea. The 70% who experience 9 to 20 months of amenorrhea provide an almost exact mirror of the 68% of events within the first standard deviation of a normal distribution. EBF remains a wonderful form of natural family planning, and it is the preferred form for many. The normal distribution found in our studies will be found in other real life distributions, but only if the mothers follow the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding. Not following them is not “bad” or doing something “wrong,” but the biological reality is that the consequent reduction in suckling will most likely lead to a shorter duration of amenorrhea. People deserve to know all such facts so that they can make an informed decision.
Sheila Kippley
NFP International
www.nfpandmore.org

May 30, 2008 at 11:29 AM  

They have tried to do away with the guilt tactics practiced by the old ecolbf camp (if your fertility returned early it was because you were doing something 'wrong').

This is exactly like saying that b/c *some* breastfeeding advocates induce guilt in bottlefeeding mothers, that we should stop teaching breastfeeding. *Some* doing it wrong does not mean it should stop being done ("it" being "teaching the principles of ecological breastfeeding").

A bell curve is the proper way to look at this--assuming women follow ALL of the ecolbf rules. Yet even if a mother follows all the 'rules' over 40% will have fertility return before their baby is 1 year old...and this is too short of a space for many families.

The bell curve in rural, traditional societies shows that the bulk of the mothers are in the 2.5-3yr spacing. The fact that it centers around 14mo in our society indicates just how far astray our cultural knowledge of bf'ing has gone. True ecological bf'ing (and NO mother can be faulted for not knowing what it is when even scientists have forgotten) gives greater spacing. Frequent suckling is the key. (I can't tell you how many time exclusive bf'ing mothers have commented on how frequently my baby/toddler nurses. It's several times an hour if I'm sitting down, probably 20 times a day in little snatches.)

People deserve to know all such facts so that they can make an informed decision.

I could not agree more. CCL has decided to stop informing us, deciding we'd rather not know. (FTR, I emailed them w/ my concerns and received a very polite phone call from Ann Gundlach in return. My concerns were not assuaged, but she was more than courteous.)

To the person asking about ovulation - yes, fertility can return before menstruation - but you are likely to have mucus (and other) signs that are clear if you're looking for them. It's rare, too.

I hope to address ecological breastfeeding soon on my blog. It's a great, great gift (even if the spacing doesn't happen).

May 30, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

Now I have a question about this ecological breastfeeding, and this again maybe a question for another topic. None-the-less.. if
EB promotes frequent suckling, including non-nutritive suckling in order to remain infertile and have quality spacing, doesn't this effect the children's teeth and gums, from a dental standpoint. I mean breast milk does contain qualities that if left to linger in mouth for significant duration or is being frequently exposed to teeth and gums, won't that increase the risk of cavities and other long term dental issues which then lead to long-term medical issues? I don't really know anything about this so I figured I'd ask.i

May 30, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

Bethany, yes, ecobf has a significant effect on the teeth - any extended bf'ing strengthens the jaw and greatly reduces the risk of needing orthodontia later in life.

But as to your question about cavities, bf'ing alone does not produce cavities. Women ecologically bfed their children for millennia and their children suffered few or no dental caries at all. (Search amazon for Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.) It is sugar in the diet which causes "baby bottle mouth" to result from liquids in the mouth. Eliminating all sugar & white grains (including high fructose corn syrup hidden in most commercial breads & condiments) eliminates cavities.

http://www.brianpalmerdds.com/bfing_import.htm - you will definitely want to check out the slides of the ancient skulls, almost none of which are ever found with cavities, even as infants, and all of whom practiced night nursing while cosleeping (had to protect baby from that saber-toothed tiger!).

May 30, 2008 at 1:21 PM  

This is really sad. Division among Catholic mothers, of all people. I took an NFP marriage prep. class that did not mention E.B. When I got pregnant, I was at a loss for where to understand God's will for us, and even looked up the couple who taught that class. The only thing they said that I remember now is that Pope JPII said that mothers should have the option to stay at home. We were poor, living in apartments in Boulder around a bunch of college kids. Staying home did not sound possible. Then my Grandmother mailed Sheila Kippley's book, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood to me, and I LOVED it. In no way did Mrs. Kippley try to use a guilt tactic in her encouraging book, at least not in a way that should "guilt" any Catholic. She offered support and information, and I had enough courage after reading it to trust God and stay with my baby. E.B. is NOT difficult. It is so natural and easy and PERFECT because it is the way God planned! I am really suprized that the author of this blog made the statement that E.B. is "REALLY hard" after having said she had not done it herself, nor would she even consider it. What is really hard might just be her head! Sorry, but it's true. I'd like to read her essay about why she couldn't try it. Anyway, read the responses by Sheila Kippley herself, and also the one by loveyourmother. They are really good, and the women who wrote them have real information for those Catholic women who want to know their options.
One more point I'd like to make; the way to conquer a sin is to practice the opposite virtue, simply put. Well, America's worst sin right now is abortion. So as Catholic women, I'd say it is our duty to be selfless, life-giving mothers, opposing selfish life-taking. Ecological breastfeeding enforces this, and since we aren't always strong enough to accept God's graces and use them, it's nice to have an extra push from your baby! I LOVE you Catholic women! Trust in God's GREAT MERCY!
Kim Basile

June 1, 2008 at 12:44 AM  

I've now closed comments. Thank you all for your thoughts!

June 1, 2008 at 11:20 PM  

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