Friday, August 24, 2007

On Family Planning--What do you do?

It's hard to make a post like this without seeming judgemental or nosey. So let me say here, at the beginning, that neither is why I write and ask you to share with me, if you are so comfortable.

I'm in a somewhat odd place right now as far as family planning goes. It's no secret I've written much about Natural Family Planning. Dh and I have learned 2 different methods, and we've practiced them successfully. Even though I know that, I get tempted at times to throw in the cards and go a different route.

Being Catholic, that doesn't exactly "fly", if you know what I mean.

And I respect that and do understand why the Church teaches what it teaches. Actually, in reading on history, all churches taught similar teachings on artificial birth control up until the 1930's.

I'm getting off topic here. Regardless of moral reasons for practicing NFP, regardless of being Catholic or not, I'd hope to sway in that direction for health reasons.

The pill scares me. Same as IUDs, the patch, etc.

I get scared, but in times of insecurities, I am tempted to go a different route. I'm tempted to do as the general public does...

So if you're still with me at this point, (thank you!), and you're comfortable sharing, please tell me-what do you do for family planning? If you use artificial means, do you worry about the health risks associated with that? Side effects? Cost?
Furthermore, if you are non-Catholic & attend another church, what does your church teach on this matter? Did you have marriage prep courses? What did they teach at that time?

Promising this is no slap in the face...another thing that perplexes me is women who are so natural in areas-breastfeeding, organic foods, products, etc-but then they will be on artificial hormones to control their fertility. I don't get that. Any insight?

I think I'm trying to learn something here from you all, and hoping that your answers will help me learn something about myself, once again.

Thanks in advance. I hope this did not come off as judgemental. I am curious. I am confused. I am appreciative for your feedback.


Kim said...

Ok I'll jump in on this one! We use good ol' fashioned condoms! I know, not really "natural" family planning, but like you all the other methods such as hormones and intra-uterine contraptions scare thank you! Also, my periods resume at 3 months postpartum despite on-demand, frequent breastfeeding (just my luck!) and I am committed to child-led weaning, and at the very least would not even consider using formula in the first year so one of my biggest fears is getting pregnant before Sophie is finished bf-ing. I'm also super fertile :), getting pregnant the first month we tried both times, so I'm not willing to take any chances with the rhythm method, as accurate as I hear it can be. So it's condoms for us...the most non-invasive of the birth control methods, and while not 100% effective, it's worked well for us for 9 years now! I have to admit, though, that my religion (raised Catholic, currently Lutheran) didn't play a part in my decision. I just wanted a reliable barrier method that would prevent pregnancy any time of the month without side effects. I'm in complete agreement with "every child is a blessing", but I fear that without some sort of barrier, I'd be the next Mrs. Duggar with 17 kids (and counting!) :-)

Sharon said...

Thank you for sharing, Kim. I do appreciate it. :)
I think if I took religion out of the picture, I'd STILL hesitate with the other methods. The chemicals and hormones just don't seem right to me.

The super-fertile part, I can relate! We've always concevied 1st try, as well. I know that's a good thing, and some women really struggle TO conceive. But, like some try hard to get pregnant, some of us have to try hard to NOT! lol What did they call me first time around? Oh yes, "fertile myrtle". Joy to hear that so often.

I'm exclusively bfing, too. I did w/ Aidan, and my period didn't return until almost 10 months. This time, though, it's been feeling like it'd be soon for the last 2 months! The not-knowing drives me insane! I know 100% I'd feel more comfortbale charting for NFP once I have a regular cycle again. I do prefer it, then. But right now...well, let's just say we all know that going too long in your marriage w/o being intimate can hurt the marriage. So at what expense do we hold off? *sigh*

Angie said...

I don't know that my answer will be all that helpful to you, but I'll share. :)

Of course, you know that we're Catholic, but we only just converted this year. We were previously Episcopalian, and even during our premartial counseling with the (Episcoplian) priest, he wanted to verify that we had chosen and were using a birth control method. (Apparently he didn't think we should get married because we were "so young," and so now in knowing that that was what he thought, I see why, in his mind, he demanded to know that we were using birth control of some sort. How crazy is that though???)

Anyway...for years, I was on the pill. I did that also because of very irregular cycles. Ironically, we later found out that I had infertility issues, and so then I did not always use the pill.

After we had Molly, and because of my irregular cycles (that always left me thinking, "Did I miraculously get pregnant or is it just my crazy cycle?"), Eric and I decided that he would have a vasectomy, and that was what he did.

Once we were doing a lot of reading and praying about becoming Catholic, we regretted that he had had a vasectomy. We researched having it reversed, but the cost was just too high especially not covered by insurance. Heck -- I even confessed to the vasectomy at my first reconciliation! LOL Our priest had said before though that if we wanted to have a reversal -- great. But, it wasn't like we willful thought it was sinful at the time and did it anyway. We didn't think then what we think now. And, that was a comfort. I said, that probably doesn't help at all. LOL But, that's my story. ;)

Jennifer said...

I would post something, but it'd just be a repeat of the e-mails we've been passing back and forth for two days--ha ha ha! Basically, I'm leeching off of your blog comments, Sharon---So, POST people, POSTTTT!! Give us all the feedback you can muster--we need to hear it ALL!!

(Kim gets my kudos, so far :o)

Christina Martin said...

At the moment, we're expecting; so none of the above. Generally, we use NFP and have spaced our family as long as our desire for space outweighs our desire to express our love. LOL... ah, willpower!

As for other methods, even putting aside Church teachings, there are some serious things to consider: the IUD and all progesterone-only methods (like the patch, the shot, and the implant) are abortifacient only. They do not prevent ovulation, but only prevent implantation of embryos.

The combined pill is partly abortifacient, partly contraceptive. It is about 60% effective in preventing ovulation, and the rest of its effectiveness is in preventing implantation after conception has occurred.

My periods have always returned at 6 weeks postpartum, but even with breastfeeding, you can tell when you are fertile, regardless of when menses return.

I have to say I feel strongly that NFP is best spiritually and for a couple's intimacy; but if I were inclined to use some other method, I would only consider a barrier method, to avoid the abortifacients.

Stacey said...

I know it sounds stupid, but we use a mix of NFP (CM monitoring only) and condoms. Because my cycles are so insanely irregular (I'm not talking a few days, I'm talking weeks) we use a condom ALMOST all the time. When I know I'm at my most fertile, I stay far, far away from him.

I don't do oral contraceptives or IUDs or what have you not simply because of the hormonal factor, but because the last ditch effort of any hormonal birth control is to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting if all else fails. I'm not cool with that, at all. I'm one of those "life begins at conception" nutters.

I wish I could do straight up NFP because it's such a good way to keep in touch with your body but my cycle is just too nuts - and I don't want to go for potential months at a time without having sex for something that I don't believe is morally necessary.

I don't subscribe to any particular doctrine or denomination - I just kinda wing it. If it feels right, it's probably right. If I have to convince myself, I know it's not. In then end, you have to do what you feel is right. On that note, and PLEASEPLEASE don't take this the wrong way, knowing how devoted you are to the Church, a trait I admire greatly, you'd probably do best to not go a different route. Don't do something you'd regret.

Since this comment is just not long enough, I'm gonna answer your other questions. My pastor did pre-marital counseling, and all he touched on regarding this issue is that we totally agree on what specifically we wanted to use with regards to birth control. We did. No side effects with condoms, we're not allergic or anything. The cost depends entirely on how active a couple is, I suppose.

And one insight as to why many natural-leaning women use BC, they probably look at it as just something to prevent... like taking an allergy pill or something.

Crystal said...

Glad you posted about this. After our email exchange the other day, I made a choice. dh prefers the "pull-out" method,(well when he was home, I mean, LOL) but would prefer condoms, which I refuse! which is really really hard, especially since he knows now that we will be abstaining when he comes home in September if that is his choice! BUT on the choice I made, I ordered the home study course from the Couple to Couple League and am starting the course tonight, reading the chapters and stuff. dh told me before that I can do "whatever I want" but without his effort/willingness to learn to read the charts and also abstaining it is going to be hard. But I figure him being away for this year with only 2 times coming home for 2 weeks at a time, it is making it easier on both of us. We really have to talk and "get to know" each other all over again being thousands of miles apart, ya know? well sorry for this being so long. Just wanted to let you know after "talking" to you the other day it helped just getting it out and talking with another wife and mom, and I was able to listen to God about this. So thank you Sharon!
ps keep up what you're doing, its the right thing for so many reasons! and remember to trust in our Lord even when you're insecure or scared. oh and btw I got pregnant with Ethan when we werent trying but we werent contracepting(before I joined the Church) and with Alex the first time we tried, LOL so I understand about being really fertile, so thats probably why he(and I) are so nervous/scared, etc.

Angie said... quick add, we did use NFP (and some medical help -- LOL) when we were struggling with trying to get pg during infertility.

Stacey said...

Ditto to what Angie said. I was temping like a madwoman and checking the CM at work (something I'm sure my co-workers would LOVE to know) while we were trying to get pregnant.

Also, please know that I said what I said (about staying the course) out of support, not out of lecturing or anything. Promise!!! I have a few strictly Catholic friends who were doing NFP strictly then strayed because it is a little work, then absolutely regretted it. I just want you to know that I wasn't lecturing!

Sharon said...

Thank you all tremendously for your input and feedback! It's nice to know there are women out there willing to share for the sake of others, especially in such an area as this.

Stacey-no need to worry! I completely felt support from you and nothing to the contrary.

From ALL of you. So thank you!

I have determined that I am going to do the observing and charting I KNOW to do for at least a week, and then see how I feel after that.
I, too, have heard of several couples who gave up NFP for artificial means, and then later wished they hadn't. Good thing to keep in mind, I suppose.

Sheila Kippley said...

For a short, FREE online "How-To" NFP manual on all the signs of fertility awarenss and the Seven Standards of eco-breastfeeding for spacing babies, go to The manual is in 4 parts, 84 pages, and is in an easy-to-understand question-and-answer format. The Home Page has a sidebar "Not Just for Catholics" and one for Catholics on "Understanding Humanae Vitae" plus lots of information supportive of NFP and breastfeeding.

Sharon said...

Thank you again for visiting my blog and for the info. I will check it out.
Though we prefer Creighton over STM, I know a refresher would be great. THANK YOU!

Amy said...

I'm a little late on this one, but here's my two cents' worth anyway:

I'm Catholic, and I was totally against hormonal birth control for a long time.

Fast forward a few years to my infertility problems, and my opinion started to waiver. I actually went on the BCP for a short time to regulate my crazy cycles. Talk about weird... going on BC in order to get pregnant... it did help, though.

Then, after all the complications with my pregnancies, the doctors told me I absolutely should not get pregnant again because, literally, I would not live through another pregnancy. (Two doctors told me this in no uncertain terms.) That scared the heck out of me. I went on BC (the patch) and it hasn't been too bad. This fall I'm tenatively planning to have my tubes tied. I am not totally comfortable with it, but, on the other hand, I am very definitely not comfortable with the possibility that my children could grow up without me, so in my case, I feel it's completely justified.

My priest never touched on birth control during our pre marital counseling-- all I can remember was us agreeing that we were open to having children. He didn't get specific about things.

Wow, that is definitely the most personal info I've ever left in a comment anywhere! LOL!! You can email me if you want to talk details.. I think I've shared enough in your comment section for now! :)

Julia Denos said...
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Julia Denos said...
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Marcia said...


Very interesting - please all you fertile myrtles, please send fertility vibes my way ;)

Sharon, will you send me your email for the weight loss group?


Sharee said...

I have special concerns about NFP because we have had three babies die between 24-25 weeks over a 3 year time period. Although we have a 4 month old now, I've had c-sections and just can't risk getting pregnant 3 months after delivery!

I refuse to use the pill because of the artificial hormones and I don't like the more permanent options, either. So, we use condoms. It definitely works for our family situation!

Our home church is totally against the pill ... they believe in NFP.

I did always wonder why 'the pill' arouses such anger when it is acceptable to pop a pill for a headache, cough, sniffle or cramp ...! Again, I am against the pill, but just wonder what the difference is ...

Sharon said...

Sharee, I will offer some thoughts on this,
always wonder why 'the pill' arouses such anger when it is acceptable to pop a pill for a headache, cough, sniffle or cramp ...! Again, I am against the pill, but just wonder what the difference is ...

Headaches, coughs, colds...those are times when the body is ill and weaker from being "sick" or not well. Something in the body needs to be "fixed"-rid of germs, bacteria, etc.

The birth control pill, however, is usually not taken to fix something, as something isn't broken, so to speak. In general, when we think of taking medicine, we think of it as something we take to fix something wrong. So by taking the pill, we categorize our reprodictive parts as being broken or wrong, simply for functioning the way they were made to function.

So as the expression goes, "if it ain't broken, don't try to fix it!"

I know that's making light of it, but that's a way I've looked at it. Women taking pill after pill for something that is just fine to begin with, it starts to create a frame of mind that those body parts of are not good, when in fact, they ARE good, we just aren't comfortable with possible results of using those parts.

I know not all people share this view. It's my insight offered towards your comment, though.

If you don't mind me asking, what is your home church?

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

NFP - sympto-thermal method