How I discovered NFP

How I discovered NFP - talking about family

This week is National NFP awareness week in the United States, so I thought I would share my journey with NFP.

I’ll set my stall out straight away. I confess. I am a Natural Family Planning (NFP) fan. A huge one. However, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, you could say I used to be quite ambivalent to it. I only knew of NFP myths; it relied on the antiquated rhythm method and was unreliable.

When I was 18, I went to university, fell away from the Church, got a boyfriend and started using the Pill. It seemed like a good idea and the next logical step in adulthood. I went to the doctor, who took my blood pressure and gave me a prescription. Back home, I read the information leaflet and was not put off by the side effects- mood swings, weight gain, breast cancer…  I read that when you stop taking the Pill, your risk of breast cancer goes back to normal after 10 years.[1] I rationalised that was OK, and signed up to nearly a decade of hormone hodgepodge.

Towards the end of my twenties, I came back to the Catholic faith. Through reading Church teachings such as Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body, I began to understand why the Church taught that birth control was wrong- a couple co-operates with God in creating the miracle of new life. To use birth control would be to say to God that my plan was better than His.

I married my husband in 2012. Soon after, a friend mentioned NFP, which prompted us to look into the different methods and find a teacher. I discovered there are effective and evidence-based methods of NFP include the Creighton model, Billings and the sympto-thermal method. The Creighton model has a 97% rate of effectiveness in avoiding pregnancy. This is in sharp contrast to the oral contraceptive whose in-use rate of efficacy is, at best, 92%.

Furthermore, the Pill is listed by the World Health Organization as a group one carcinogen, a fact many women taking the pill are not aware of. Why didn’t my doctor tell me?  A few of its other side effects include blood clotting, depression, weight gain and, ironically, low libido.

I realise now that modern NFP is indeed the Church’s ‘trump card’. Why? Women who use NFP are more in tune with their bodies- they understand them better. It helps detect problems like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and endometriosis. It is scientifically proven. It’s free. There is a divorce rate of less than 2% among couples who use it because it promotes respect and communication between couples. And, in an age where many of us like to try to eat organic, it’s natural, free from artificial hormones which pollute not only the environment, but, more importantly, women’s bodies.

It is a little known fact that some birth control pills, the emergency contraceptive pill and the IUD are abortifacients– they work by preventing the newly formed embryo from attaching to the wall of the uterus. Using these methods means overriding God’s plan and aborting the new life that has formed.

We use the Creighton Model of NFP. By observing cervical mucus daily, and noting it on a chart, a couple can identify the part of the woman’s cycle where she is fertile and infertile.Fertility is embraced as something natural and healthy, rather than a disease to be cured with drugs. Above all, NFP treats human life with dignity and the respect it deserves, made in the image and likeness of God.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/the-pill-progestogen-only.aspx

How did you discover NFP? What is your experience of it? I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

My First Mother’s Day

Umbert the Unborn Pro-life cartoon
Umbert the Unborn

This time last year I was 8 months pregnant. My husband bought me flowers and a mother’s day card thanking me for, among other things, the excellent womb service I was providing to our baby (see Umbert the Unborn for an explanation)!

I remember initially feeling a bit odd about receiving the gift and card. I didn’t have a baby in my arms and the world referred to me as a mum-to-be, but I was in fact already a mother.

When does motherhood begin? When the baby is in mama’s arms? At the start of active labour (as some insurance companies state)? At the first kick? At conception? When the mother decides?

Saint John Paul talks about motherhood in the period between conception and birth.

Mary’s words at the Annunciation – Let it be to me according to your word – signify the woman’s readiness for the gift of self and her readiness to accept a new life. (MD 18)

From the beginning, motherhood is linked in a very real way to the sincere gift of self. From the self-gift of avoiding contraception and being open to life, to all the little ‘gifts of self’ a mother makes before her child enters the world; taking prenatal vitamins and having a healthy diet to ensure baby is getting the nutrients she needs (oh the amount of oily fish I ate!), staying fit by going for a walk instead of lying on the sofa, the physical discomforts, which I won’t even begin to describe…

Western culture has little respect for the child in the womb. If I was a mum-to-be, then what was growing in my womb? A person-to-be? No. The little person in my womb was created in collaboration with God. I had said “yes” to life. A baby was growing and a soul had formed that would last for eternity. There’s nothing ‘to-be’ about that! So, while this may be my first mother’s day with a baby in my arms, I’m going to count it as my second!