Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: NFP For Achieving a Pregnancy

Mandi over at The Catholic Newlywed graciously offered to write a post about using NFP with the intentions to achieve a pregnancy (no, that is not said facetiously.) This is part of my series* about the difference between NFP and Contraception. Hope you all enjoy and thanks again Mandi!

Usually when I hear about Natural Family Planning, the focus is on preventing pregnancy.  I think this is, in part, due to the fact that Natural Family Planning proponents want to prove that it is an alternative just as effective as contraception.  Although it is certainly true that NFP is very effective at preventing pregnancy, this emphasis saddens me because I believe that by simply comparing the preventative abilities of NFP with contraception, we lose the essence of what it truly is.  It is not simply a method for preventing pregnancy, but rather a comprehensive system in which knowledge of the female body is utilized to plan a family – both to prevent (or postpone) pregnancy and to achieve pregnancy.  Unlike contraception, NFP has a beautiful, life-giving component which should not be overlooked. 

When my husband and I first married in July of 2010, we were dead-set on using NFP to avoid pregnancy.  Slowly, over the course of several months, we realized that the reasons we had to avoid pregnancy weren’t necessarily as much of obstacles as we thought – they didn’t go away, but they began to seem less important.  We decided that we would start trying to get pregnant in January.   But when the time came for us to abstain in December, we decided that we were just too excited to start our family to wait another month.  We hadn’t picked January for any particular reason other than it made sense to start trying with the start of a new year (but timing your family to correspond with a calendar doesn’t make much sense either) and it was really freeing for us to be able to change our mind on a dime.  We didn’t become pregnant that month, but there was a definite positive change in our relationship and our outlook as we sought to grow our family.

Unlike many forms of contraception, which require scheduled appointments to remove or, in the case of birth control pills, advise waiting several months after stopping before trying to conceive, NFP is immediately reversible.  Not only that, it provides one with extra knowledge that makes conceiving easier.  Instead of abstaining during fertile times, a couple uses knowledge of when those times occur to heighten their chances of conceiving.  For many women using contraception, the process of getting pregnant once they and their partners decide to start trying is long and frustrating.  First, they must stop contracepting, then wait the allotted time before they try to conceive.  If they do not conceive within a certain amount of time, they are then advised by doctors to chart their cycles in order to pinpoint the best times for conception.  By using NFP, all of these steps are skipped and a couple can start actively trying to achieve a pregnancy as soon as they are ready.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that some women who use contraception won’t get pregnant right away, nor does it mean that couples who use NFP won’t experience infertility or difficulty conceiving – each woman’s body is unique.  But NFP does proactively help couples achieve pregnancy, whereas contraception’s only purpose is to avoid pregnancy. 

My husband and I conceived our child in March, during our fourth cycle of actively seeking pregnancy (yes, that means our little one is due any time now).  I often wonder how much longer it may have taken us to conceive if I did not know when I was fertile.  For various reasons, we have decided not to use NFP to prevent pregnancy in the future unless serious reasons arise for doing so (specifically, health complications).  However, I have not yet decided whether I will start charting again postpartum.  To me, knowledge of my cycles is invaluable – not only will it help us to conceive again in the future, it also helps my husband and I understand the various physical and emotional changes I experience throughout the month.

About the Author: Mandi is a young wife to her grad student husband, a mommy-to-be (who will be going into labor any time now!), and devout Catholic.  She blogs about learning to keep house, her Catholic faith, impending motherhood, and more at Catholic Newlywed.

Update: Mandi had her baby Monday afternoon! A beautiful baby girl, Lucia Rose. Head on over to her blog or twitter to congratulate her!

*By series I mean, one other post which you can read here.


  1. Wonderful post, Mandi. I'm so excited to go to classes with Jim and learn even more!

  2. This is a great post! There are so many times that I hear that NFP "doesn't work", because someone has a certain number of kids. I try to explain that NFP is working perfectly, because usually the couple has decided that's how many kids they want to have.

  3. The more I read about NFP and contraception the more I want to attempt to use NFP when I do get married. I also hear horror stories about what the pill does to your body. My sister was on something and she stopped taking it because it made her too hormonal.

  4. This is a great post! I need to learn more about it... to be honest, I'm so lazy even in my thought process that I think, to heck with it! When I get married, I'll get pregnant whenever!

    Another thing I've thought about is knowing your body well to stay healthy. I get into some awful feeling bouts around my period time and I'd love to learn more about why my body works the way it does. Talk about empowering!

    The last *'d comment was my favorite. I have series to finish too. Oops. :)

  5. Great perspective! I know we've discussed this a bunch in our personal conversations, but I still catch myself "defending" NFP by emphasizing the success rate of avoidance and neglecting the many other benefits.

    And Katie, I think I've got a good perspective on NFP too, if you are interested in another guest poster for this series!

  6. Katie, this was a great idea for a guest post! Mandi, thank you for sharing your insight. Although my husband and I are currently using NFP to postpone pregnancy I couldn't agree with you more - it is so important for everyone to clearly see the difference between NFP and contraception. NFP honors the sanctity of life, even when a couple is currently not discerning a call to grow their family. You will be in my prayers as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world!

  7. Thanks ladies for all your kind comments! NFP can be such a blessing and I only hope that it becomes more popular!

  8. Thanks for the post and a preemptive "congratulations." After learning about NFP the past few months, I'm excited to finally go to a class next week!

  9. Great post and congrats to Mandi! Honestly, half the time I forget people use NFP to avoid pregnancy these days (as one with infertility who NEEDS NFP to help treat and diagnose).

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