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Friday, July 29, 2011

Why NFP (Natural Family Planning)?

The U.S. bishops have designated July 24-30 as national Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. The week coincides with the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “Humanae Vitae,” which articulates the Catholic teaching about human sexuality, marital love and responsible parenthood.

Why NFP?
My path to NFP may or may not be the typical path. It was mentioned briefly in our marriage prep. My husband and I practiced birth control the way most young Americans do. We used the pill. I happened to go so a Naturopathic Doctor. He recommended a book to me. I don’t remember the name of this book today, but I do remember that it recommended getting off hormonal forms of birth control.  It had a referral to Couple to Couple League, a group that teaches NFP. I contacted the local instructor and they got us started with the book and a private first lesson.  I got started with NFP for health reasons, 14 years ago.  When my first daughter was in the NICU, the lactation consultant asked me what I planned on using for birth control. Turns out hormonal methods interfere with breast feeding and milk supply. When I told her I wanted to try LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea) and NFP (Natural Family Planning) he was quite happy. Turns out she practiced NFP and she directed me to the book Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, by Sheila Kippley.
What is NFP?
Natural Family Planning is a natural form of achieving or avoiding pregnancy.  It fits within the Catholic Church’s teaching of sexuality. NFP is green, there are no hormones entering into our water systems. Birth Control hormones are found in drinking water across the country. Water treatment facilities can not filter out the hormones. But, most importantly, NFP honors a woman’s body. There are no devices implanted, nothing to throw away. NFP uses several methods of observing and recording fertility symptoms including: basal temperature,
You may be wondering how effective it is. When fertility awareness methods are used correctly and consistently it reaches effective rates of 90% or higher. This points it on par with birth control methods such as the pill and higher than condoms. In fact when used correctly the only forms of birth control more effective are physical or chemical sterilization.
Unlike chemical forms of birth control there are no side effects of using NFP or fertility awareness methods.  NFP is the only form of birth control that can be used to achieve or avoid pregnancy. There is no waiting time, before attempting to get pregnant. NFP is very cost effective, if no free courses are available in your area you can of attend classes online or through an organization such as  CCL for about the cost of one – two months of birth control.  The only special equipment needed is a basal thermometer. You don’t have to pay for doctor’s visits.  You can usually get these at for about $10 at most stores. You can use charts, which you can print off for free online. I just use a calendar I keep in my bathroom closet. I also use it to track other symptoms, exercise and my weight.
But wait, don’t all people who practice NFP have huge families? No, not really. We have been practicing NFP at our house for 14 years and have three children. When we first started using NFP I always thought we would have 4 or  5 kids. But that was my plan, not God’s plan. Yes, some couples who practice NFP have large  families. but it is not because of NFP failure.  I love what Leila     says on her blog Little Catholic Bubble
“if there is one message I want to send clearly to all, it's this: The fact that we have eight children is not an indication that NFP does not work. On the contrary, it has worked beautifully for us, and our children came when we expected them. No, the reason we have eight children is because understanding the truth and meaning of human sexuality changed our hearts. We went from being closed to the possibility of new life in our marriage, to opening those doors wide. It was a freedom in so many ways and on so many levels that turning back is unthinkable.
If you are interested in in finding out more about NFP check these NFP and More or Couple to Couple League

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