Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Natural Family Planning

As I say to my hubby dear, I bring home the bacon bits.

I have a little night job I sneak off to when the kids are in bed.  Er, not that kind of night job.  I work from home teaching the SymptoPro method of natural family planning online.  I also teach some in person classes for my Diocese, but most of my teaching is online from the awkward moments safety comfort of my computer screen.  A lot of people scoff at teaching and learning NFP online, but let me tell you most of my clients online share way more information and ask much better questions when they aren't staring me down face to face. 

Ok, let's be honest, a lot of people scoff at NFP in general. Such as my doctor who I formerly would've said the following about:

This pregnancy was the first time I had a doctor who I really like and respect and would actually go back to!  She's one of those people that I probably would've been friends with in real life.  Slightly nerdy (ok, she's more than slightly, but I'd still take her in public, much like myself), really smart and very sweet.  I was immediately impressed with her compassion, empathy and patience when I first met her.  She schedules triple the amount of time most OBs do for her patients and she sees absolutely all of her own OB appointments and has only missed delievering 2 of her patients in 11 years!  Ooook, so she works too much.  That's her personal problem that I will love her for all the more during these baby making years.

Aside for not having a life beyond work, Dr. Superwoman lost a lot of warmth in my heart during our 6 week check up chat.  We've spent a LOOOOT of time chatting during this pregnancy since I'd been going for weekly plus visits for over half of Sam's incumbation and during her hospital rounds she was trying to put off going to her husband's work bbq, so she spent over and hour sitting and talking about life with me.  So we're "toyight" in Dr:Patient terms.  She knows I teach NFP.  Even if she missed reading it on my chart, I'm pretty sure she knows I'm Catholic since approximately zero other moms in Scottsdale, AZ electively plan to have 4 kids in 5 1/2 years who don't tote scapulars and rosaries. 

So when we last met, the inevitable "What are your plans for birth control?" Q and A came up.  To which I responded with what I thought was a short, sweet and definitive:

Me: "We use Naturally Family Planning"

Dr.:  "Um... weeeelll, ok, but based on the complications we've had during and after this pregnancy I strongly recommend not getting pregnant for, well, at the very minimum 6 months, but my preference would be a few years.  I don't want to see you have a preterm baby and I know you'd be so devastated if another pregnancy left you needing sterili-"

Me: "Oh no! Don't worry!  I agree, I need a lot longer than 6 months!  We don't have any plans for another baby in the next 6 months."

Dr: "Right, but you know what I always say to my patients who want to use natural family planning. NFP basically stands for Now-. [looks up at my stare down and stops]  Er.  Well, I mean, you realize it's not as effective as birth control, there are lots of other benefits to it and I really wan-"

Me: "Thank you, but I teach Natural Family Planning to dozens of successfully practicing couples a month and will be practicing that to plan our family as well. I have never had an unplanned pregnancy in 5 years of doing so.  I would not take birth control for numerous reasons."


-not-pregnant-for-at-least-6-months pause-

Me: "So I'm clear to resume normal activities right??"

Dr: "Yes, yeah, yup, all clear.  Make sure you bring in your littles ones to visit soon!"

Nice save, lady.  Good thing flattery gets you every where when it's about complementing my adorable kids.

That and it's probably not entirely your fault that you're like every other OB in America who does not understand the dangerous risks involved with hormonal contraceptives!   I won't even hold it against her.

Click away now to save yourself from my rant. 

I have a foot on the soap box...

Here's your last chance....

Ok you stayed..... thanks! 

Our doctors are selectively informed in medical school and then again by pharmaceutical companies about the risks and "benefits" of birth control.  I'm not just saying so!  If you don't believe me this documentary film will knock your hospital gowns off.

I wanted to scream please, please Dr. Superwoman spend 5 of my appointment minutes reading

I wanted to cry when she started talking about birth control and preventing cancer.  It doesn't prevent cancer!  It causes cancer!  The FDA confirms that hormonal contraceptions are class I carcinogens.  Like cigarettes.  Would our doctors tell us to smoke?  Under any circumstances?

I wanted to beg her not to push birth control.  If she pushed me that hard I can only imagine how less informed women crumble in the disadvantaged battleground.

No one should be convinced to use birth control.  Family planning is personal. It's a 3 way decision. Husband. Wife. God.  Not Doctor.  Doctors are there to empower us to choose the best method for our unique relationship by adequately educating us of ALL options.  And then not judging, insisting or persuading us when we stand firm in what we've chosen.    I'm far from intending to suggest that everyone should practice NFP.    But everyone should know there are more options available beyond hormonal intervention and NFP is only one of them.

Since Monday alone I've had two clients (not even Catholic like many of my clients) come to me after disastrous complications from the pill. One woman had never had an actual period, because she was late developing and the doctors wanted her to start cycling before 16, so they put her on the pill.  She had been taking birth control for... get ready...  21 years straight!!!   She's tried almost every option under the sun.  She had blood clots, migraines and mood swings, but doctors told her it wasn't related to the pill.  She had recently stopped taking it hoping to get pregnant and had been having trouble conceiving, so she found us.  Sadly for her the rates of infertility are significantly higher when women take the pill for more than 7 years.  Triple that.  It's going to take a miracle for this couple.

It's cases like this that illustrate why infertility is so common in our culture and why our method actually serves more couples wanting help to achieve a pregnancy rather than avoid one.  Since stopping the pill her ocular migraines completely went away.  Migraines she had suffered through for 21 years!   But one doctor said it was just as likely coincidence.

Another client had to have surgery to remove the IUD that got embedded in her uterus and now keeps having miscarriages...

These stories are heart breaking to me and my blood just boils when I read about them.  She was told there were no risks to an IUD.  Not just minimal risks, but NO RISKS.

What happened to our right to understand our bodies?  To our right to make an informed decision about our health and fertility?

And that's my soap box.  

Never thought this blog would be about this, but it is about raising my family, which starts here.  So if you're still reading you should leave me a comment so I can love you foreva!


  1. I'm so with you on this! I would never use hormonal birth control, it's horrible stuff.

  2. I originally went on HBC because of cramps and "irregular" periods. I really wish my CNM would have talked more to me about the decision I made when I was in college and really discussed my options and how maybe a not perfect 28 days was perfect for me. Plus, the whole "Sunday Start" to avoid a period on the weekend NEVER WORKED FOR ME. Now that I am married, have a child, and practice the Creighton method, I KNOW that intimacy can and SHOULD happen more than just on weekends.

    1. I love how you said "a not perfect 28 days was perfect for me"! I tell my clients something like that all the time! We first learned the Creighton Method when we got married! Good for you guys!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this!! We are taught very biased information in medical school and I'm glad you recognize that and not just condemn the doctor for being pushy. I guess we just need to push for more NFP lectures in med school. :)

    Also, thanks for the iuseNFP linky!

    1. Thanks for commenting!! We love iuseNFP and refer our clients to you frequently!

      I agree with you completely!! I have an advanced degree in Neurobiology and taught Anatomy and Physiology... but never at any point during my education did I learn about women's reproduction the way I did when I studied to became an NFP provider. It's just not the "focus" right now. On the bright side, I do think that is changing and we're all learning more about hormonal contraception as we have the first "pill using" generations cycling through. We love iuseNFP and refer our clients to you frequently!