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21st July 2012 04:03 PM #1
Natural Birth Control - Natural Family Planning
Recently I've had quite a few questions come up about how to avoid pregnancy without using hormonal birth control, so I thought I'd just go ahead and create a post about how we used Natural Family Planning with 100% effectiveness for 7 years, during some of my most fertile years (from age 20-27).
When my husband and I were first married, we took a class at a Catholic hospital on natural family planning. We had one on one coaching which made it seem so natural and gave me so much confidence in what we were doing. They taught me how to watch for signs of fertility and then I would track my cycle, and they would review my chart to be sure we were doing everything right.
In general, as soon as I saw any signs of fertility we stopped making love, and abstained for a week (or he pulled out, but they don't recommend pulling out because pregnancy can still occur from pre-ejaculate fluids). I saw 5 days of fertile mucus, and then we abstained for 2 days after ovulation (2 days after going dry) because the egg only lives for a maximum of 24 hours. For me (in my 20's) the first sign of my fertile window was when I saw the clump of mucus - later as I got older, I didn't see the clump, but noticed thinner, fertile mucus as my first sign. Whatever the first sign was, it was when I went from being dry, to having some kind of a change in my mucus.
The nice thing with this method is that my husband (who was the one who didn't want a child at the time) could tell when I was fertile - it was much easier for him to glide without added lubrication. So he would often say "are you fertile right now?" And I would say "yes" (hoping he wouldn't ask...). He also counted days, and my periods were like clockwork, so he always had a sense of when I was going into my fertile window.
We used The Billings Method, which, when used correctly, can be just as effective as the birth control pill.
Scientific studies indicate that with proper instruction and motivation, the Billings Ovulation Method in actual practice is 99.64% effective.
(Dr. Catherine Bernard, Ob. Gyn., Family Life Centre, India)
My husband and I used this method of fertility awareness for 7 years and it was 100% effective... and the nice thing about this method is that when you are ready for a baby, it will usually happen very quickly. All you have to do is reverse what you've been doing in order to get pregnant. This is the biggest reason I conceived the very first month we tried - I knew my cycles VERY well.
It wasn't hard - it wasn't anything I ever even thought about. But when I wiped or when I saw that clump of mucus on my underwear, it was my body's way of telling me "you're going into your fertile window" and then I'd get wetter and wetter and then all of a sudden I'd just go dry. All I did was make a small notation on my calendar each day during my fertile window. It was that simple.
I studied it well the first month, and I took the class. I did all the charting during the first couple of months just to be sure I was doing everything right. But once I knew what I was doing, it was really, really simple to read those fertility signs.
We used the Billings Ovulation Method and the website even offers a toll free number for those in Australia (there are classes for those in other countries as well).
I think the class was $25 - but that was 26 years ago. It was the best $25 investment I ever made in my health. Losing my mom to breast cancer at the age of 16 was devastating to me. I later learned that the breast cancer she had was hormone driven, and I know that adding hormones to the body (i.e. birth control) sets women up for having a higher chance of getting breast cancer. That was something I was highly motivated to avoid.
If you have any questions feel free to ask - or if you just want to talk we're hear to listen.
Last edited by 5Homebirths4Kate; 22nd July 2012 at 01:14 AM.
6th August 2012 09:37 AM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2012
I am a mother of three beautiful kids. However, I plan to have them and not have #4, 5 or 6 - if you know what I mean. Anyway, one thing I love about this forum is that I get so many new information, talk to people openly about pregnancy, birth, ovulation and all of that openly. The info you gave was absolutely what I was looking for. I even read at one of your threads of the same subject the detailed ovulation cycle of a woman. I found that interesting and even talked about it with my husband.
I am in my early 30's and never tried any artificial contraceptives. It was because of rumors of its bad effects on women like gaining or losing weight and other abnormalities. I even heard of a friend developing a tumor due to taking pills. So when I read your post, it was like a message sent from heaven that I needed at the right time.
Thank you Kate for the information and thumbs up to you and to other senior members of the forum for a job well done. Do continue to inform us all.
6th August 2012 09:45 AM #3
So glad you're finding the information helpful. Feel free to post any questions you may have as you watch your fertile signs during the month. It will become "second nature" but sometimes at the beginning you can have questions.
7th August 2012 04:38 PM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
Thank you so much for this post Kate! I have recently returned to natural family planning after a brief stint of hormonal birth control. I am hoping to take a class soon myself, but this information is so helpful.
10th October 2013 03:33 PM #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2012
Do you know how well this works whilst breastfeeding?
11th October 2013 10:26 PM #6
I just wanted to reply with some information about breastfeeding and birth control/ menstrual cycles.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding on demand (and your baby will be 6 months or younger) then this is around 98% effective at stopping your menstrual cycles and so the majority of women would not be fertile at this time anyway. This is even more the case if you co-sleep and babywear. Women who mix feed (i.e. feed their babies some breastmilk and some formula milk) could get their period back 4 weeks after giving birth although it depends on how much formula milk the baby has.
If you 'breastfeed ecologically' (i.e. on demand in the day an night and have your baby near to you at most times e.g. co-sleeping) then the average time for your periods to return is 15 months postpartum. So again the majority of women would not be able to get pregnant in this time.
To come back to your question, when you breastfeed anything is really considered normal in terms of periods. Once your baby is over 6 months old you may have occasional periods, no periods, or fairly regular periods. It really depends on how regular your monthly cycle becomes (and if your body has become fertile again after giving birth) as to whether you would get the cervical mucous changes you would expect with regular monthly cycles (as described by Kate above).
How old is your baby?
17th October 2013 06:15 PM #7
- Join Date
- Oct 2013
Does breastfeeding prevents a woman to become pregnant? How is this so? Because for few instances, some of my friends got pregnant even if they breast feed their child. Your answer will be appreciated.
Last edited by sherrylmae88; 17th October 2013 at 10:37 PM.
18th October 2013 06:38 AM #8
Breastfeeding stops a woman being fertile (temporarily) in almost all cases provided: the baby is younger than 6 months, the mother is exclusively breastfeeding (i.e. only breastfeeding and giving the baby no other solids or liquids including water, as per the World Health Organisation recommendations), the mother is and has breastfed on demand (in the day and night). This infertility (i.e. lack of ovulation and so periods) is increased if a mum co-sleeps and babywears. A small percentage of women (around 2%) would still ovulate, and so be able to get pregnant, even if they practised all of the above.
Does this answer your question?
26th October 2013 03:28 AM #9
LJ shared some good statistics. I would also add that you would need to avoid the use of a dummy/pacifier so that all of the baby's sucking needs are met at the breast. If the breast is being stimulated enough, it will give signals to the body telling it that mum is nourishing herself and a baby, and the body will know that it should not ovulate so that the mother does not have to nourish a baby in the womb. Too much demand for nutrients from mum can sometimes compromise the health of mum and/or baby.
Many mums find that using a dummy/pacifier with baby after breastfeeding is well established (at least 6 weeks of age), allows mum to get more rest. I personally had times when my babies wanted to suck, so I would put them to the breast, but then they would get too much milk and end up throwing it up. In this case, a dummy/pacifier allowed baby to suck/soothe herself without taking in too much milk.
I will say that most mums are busy with work or other things, and because they are so busy, they simply don't take the time to put baby to the breast as often as baby needs to suckle. I really tried not to use dummies with my babies very often, and every one of my children rejected them at about 5 months of age.
If there is a concern with nipple confusion, then you can offer a clean finger for baby to suck on. But again, anytime baby is sucking on something other than the breast, ovulation could return.
29th October 2013 07:19 AM #10
Yes good point Kate - thank you very much for adding this.
It is 'ecological breastfeeding' i.e. breastfeeding on demand and using nothing else for the baby to suckle on in addition to baby wearing and co-sleeping which prevents ovulation most reliably and for the longest time period.
16th November 2013 01:09 PM #11
- Join Date
- Nov 2012
Thanks for replies
Bubs is 3months and I don't usually get periods back for first year of breastfeeding