I’m not here today to argue the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception. I’m not here tell a story about my personal relationship with Natural Family Planning. Today, I’m going to make a brief PSA about how you, yes you, random Catholic blog reader should learn NFP, right now, today.
I’m a young single woman with no current marriage prospects who’s studying / working/ living life.
GREAT! Learn NFP.
We’re a newly engaged couple who can’t wait to start having children! We might even be marrying late in life so we’re hoping to make up for lost time.
GREAT! Learn NFP.
We’re a happily married couple with two or three kids we easily spaced with breast-feeding and we want more.
GREAT! Learn NFP.
Better yet, read up on NFP, Creighton, Marquette and any other similar method and then start really studying the one that works best for you. Talk to your fiancée or spouse, and get them on board with learning NFP now, and if they won’t get on board pray for them, and keep learning yourself.
Because here’s the thing, life rarely ever works out the way we plan. A big, beautiful Catholic family is not guaranteed anyone, no matter how devout. You may never need to try to space your children. You may staunchly believe right this very minute, that there are no grave enough circumstances that could make you refrain from the martial embrace. But then,
You may need chemotherapy for several months to tackle cancer.
You may develop a chronic health condition that can only be managed through drugs hazardous to a developing baby.
You may have multiple children close together and find yourself at the end of your rope on a daily basis.
And on the flip side, you may not get that honeymoon baby, or any baby for months or years.
Learn NFP NOW, so during a medical emergency you’re not trying to learn charting and what the hell basal temperature is while managing another unfamiliar condition.
Learn NFP NOW, so you’re not trying to figure out your bodies signs while nursing and getting up several times a night with a newborn.
Learn NFP NOW, so you might be able to pick up inconsistencies in your cycle that could signify a hindrance to conception early, rather than after months of unsuccessful attempts.
I don’t know any couple that regrets learning NFP early on in their engagement or marriage, but I know lots of families struggling to play catch up when the unexpected strikes. If nothing else, have a conversation about NFP NOW. You might be surprised at what your spouse considers grave circumstances or reason for abstaining. Talk to a good and holy priest NOW if you’re not on the same page. Yes, it’s not fun and it may be awkward but gain that knowledge now, now, NOW before something suddenly drives a wedge between you and your spouse and puts a strain you never expected on an otherwise happy marriage.
Learn NFP NOW so even if you never feel the need to apply your knowledge you may understand a bit of the struggle another couple may be going through. Pray for them and never judge their motivations or intents. Don’t assume NFP is easy for anyone. No one needs to share their grave circumstances for the world to see and validate. The most private part of the marriage sacrament is not fodder for a blog combox or discussion thread.
Learn NFP NOW so if you’re faced with those grave circumstances, you have a support network to turn to with questions and to privately share your struggles.
Learn NFP NOW.
Word. Learning it NOW beats having to learn it after 11 years of marriage when you need to postpone a pregnancy.
So. True. Sharing this one.
We have six, but the last five have been by c-section and our very pro-life, Catholic, won’t-prescribe-the-pill-or-do-tubals doctor gave us the “I won’t say ‘stop’ but…” talk after my most recent surgery. We’ve entered high risk territory and I’m glad we’ve learned much of the basics already. I’m looking for a refresher course.
And can I say, the advantage of learning early is that you also work out with your spouse much of the difficulties of temporary abstinence when it isn’t critical?
So good. Amen.
Excellent! I especially loved what Laura had to say above “the advantage of learning early is that you also work out with your spouse much of the difficulties of temporary abstinence when it isn’t critical”. Thank you.
“Learn NFP NOW so even if you never feel the need to apply your knowledge you may understand a bit of the struggle another couple may be going through. Pray for them and never judge their motivations or intents. Don’t assume NFP is easy for anyone. No one needs to share their grave circumstances for the world to see and validate. The most private part of the marriage sacrament is not fodder for a blog combox or discussion thread.”
And can I just add… don’t just assume that because you (or someone you knew) almost died during delivery or were able to overcome some horrific pregnancy problem to go on to have 15 more children that nobody’s else’s grave circumstances are as grave as yours. What you can handle is simply what YOU can handle. We are all made different. Don’t judge someone else for not being able to handle something similar. You are not them.
So well said. I know far too many people that can’t get pregnant and having some kind of knowledge of NFP would greatly help them. And I can’t imagine something tragic happening and needing to learn it on the spot… just adding stress to the situation.
excellent post! Learning NFP raises awareness for health issues like PMS as well.
This is awesome sauce. Thank you.
Also, learn NFP so that you have some idea of your baby’s correct due date. An awareness of when your baby was conceived is powerful information to have at the end of pregnancy and can be a huge factor in how your birth goes (which can also affect subsequent conceptions and births). I’ve known two situations where that awareness actually saved their baby’s life when a dr. was pressuring for a D&C for what they thought was a miscarriage. It’s a long story but had they listened to their doctor and not their charts, their baby would’ve been unknowingly aborted.
I completely agree with this one! I was charting when my 3rd was conceived, so I knew that the “real” due date was 10 days later than what the doctor projected. I am thankful that my doctor was open-minded enough to wait-and-see with us.
I don’t know why, but the best answer seems to be one already given:
Word. To your mom.
Amen! Amen! Amen! Great post Kelly, thanks!
Yes! I am so, so grateful that I already knew sympto-thermal NFP before my miscarriages. I am three months into learning Creighton to figure out the causes of my miscarriages and it is so much easier because I already has a basic understanding of the female reproductive system, charting, etc. Also, I probably would not have looked to a NaPro doctor for progesterone support during my last pregnancy if I hadn’t already been immersed in the NFP culture, known I had short luteal phases from past charting , etc. iI didn’t end up keeping me from losing the baby but it laid the foundation for the medical support I’m now getting. Also, because I charted, I had warning that something wasn’t right with my pregnancies because I was measuring behind and while that might not seem to be a big difference, it was helpful psychologically to expect the miscarriages instead of think everything was going well and be surprised by the loss. NFP is not just to avoid pregnancy, it’s used to achieve pregnancy and detect health problems, etc. so I really think it is helpful to ALL women.
Yes, yes, and yes! So many good points! Before I was Catholic my husband and I used NFP techniques to help us figure out why we were having a hard time starting a family. I really wish that I had a handle on those techniques early in our marriage, before we basically wasted a couple years realizing that our idea of good timing was actually counterproductive. Now that we are parents and I’m a new Catholic and my husband has come back to his faith, we have turned to NFP for child spacing and it really wasn’t difficult to re-learn the techniques.
Agree, agree, agree, agree… great post!
This is great!
Even though my 40-something-plus birthday is next week, and I’m single, o so single, with no prospects in sight, I think it would be a good idea to monitor things so I know more about what’s going on as I approach menopause (which is a thoroughly depressing thought. Sorry God that I never even got use this great gift!)
Last year, I tried to record my temperature each morning, just to get started, and simply didn’t have the motivation to continue.
Please pray for women like to stick with it.
Perhaps ypou could try the Billings method, which doesn’t rely on basal temperatures, but on daily observations.
How do you feel about LadyComp?
I don’t feel either way as I’m not familiar with this method at all, but there’s a ton of reviews on Amazon. Maybe start there? Sorry I can’t be more helpful.
Yes! Great advice!
I wish I had something wittier to say than, “PREACH!”
Brilliantly said! My husband and I witness for NFP at our diocese’s marriage courses and you make so many great points that I hope we could pass on to the engaged couples there. Will be sharing this – thank you!
We learned NFP shortly after we had our first born son. With it I was able to tell when my fertility was returning and was able to space the next 4 kids (only 1 surprise). It has been very helpful. I wish more women could give it a try (even if they are not Catholic). Synthetic hormone free! What could be better?
Thanks so much for this! As a Creighton practitioner I have been trying to communicate this sentiment lately. Will definitely be sharing this!
Learn NFP NOW, so that you will have a greater comfort level for how your hormones impact your mood! Feeling grumpy? Sexy? Cranky? Need sleep? Hormones are probably involved… I can’t imagine life being “blindsided” by hormones every month! (And many women are shocked to learn about the “happy” hormones mid-month! It’s not all PMS and bad news!)
Learn NFP NOW, while you’re single, because there are so many fewer variables!
Learn NFP NOW, because you never know when a method *won’t* work for you, and two months before the wedding might not be enough time to figure it out. (True story of a sweet friend who took 5 months to find the right method before her wedding with a big reason to abstain looming at them! Good thing they started early!)
Yes, yes, yes!
And for heaven’s sake- tell your Protestant friends! I praise the Lord for blogs- because had I not been an avid reader, I would currently have NO IDEA what my body is doing and why we’re not conceiving.
And! And! You may just make that Protestant realize what a beautiful thing being truly open to life really is.
Very good post. Also just wanted to mention something that some readers might not be aware of, which I discuss in my latest post – NFP is not actually to be understood as a “natural” form of contraception, to be used to avoid children whenever we don’t feel like having more (it is not the Catholic or “organic” or “environmentally friendly” equivalent of artificial contraception). NFP actually brings with it a whole different mentality, a fundamental openness to the creation of life. In Catholic teaching, if NFP is to be used in a preventative way to avoid conception, then there should be serious reasons for a couple not to remain open to new life. You give examples of these – health issues, or finances, or even being overwhelmed with existing small children.
I wish I had learned NFP as a teen with heavy periods blindsiding me every month. But alas, I was a Protestant back then!
amen amen amen. Linked to this in my latest post! http://www.followandbelieve.com/2015/07/im-single-and-i-practice-nfp.html
I am so glad I learned how to chart my cycles with the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility about a decade before I became Catholic. Even if you aren’t using it to avoid pregnancy, I found it very cool to know what was going on with my body, so if I felt like I was losing it I could look at my chart and say “oh, no wonder.” 🙂 Knowing my own cycle really well has helped me achieve pregnancy, and now helps me avoid it, which I sadly feel like I have to do for the time being, since my husband is suffering from MS, which he was diagnosed with during my last pregnancy, we have very little income from disability, and recently I have been having constant migraines (usually made worse by pregnancy in my case). While I would like to feel like I could have more kids, three is all I can take at the moment. I am so glad I didn’t have to learn NFP in the midst of everything. I can also note any changes in my cycle, such as a slower temperature shift than I used to experience, which can give me clues about other health issues. Now that I am passed the more confusing postpartum charting, it is much simpler; though I still don’t love having one more thing to keep track of, I am grateful that the tool is available.
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