Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Natural Family Planning

I have been tempted, but afraid, to write this post for a long time now. I've taken some heat from doctors, family members, friends, and co-workers for refusing to use contraception, and I know that most people have strong feelings about the subject. But since we are a blog about Type One Diabetes and Natural Childbirth, I thought it appropriate to pen some thoughts on the most natural method of postponing pregnancy and childbirth.

Natural family planning has always jived better with my love for natural childbirth than any contraceptive. It's just, well, natural. In the same way that I think women's bodies work pretty well during pregnancy and childbirth, I think they work pretty well during the ovulatory cycles, also. There is something to be said for these bodies we've been given. An easy way to sum up my non-religious perspective on the matter is: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. My belief on this point has been informed and fortified by the Catholic faith that I have embraced, but before that, it all began with a love for the way my body works and a curiosity about what was happening the other 21 (or 25, or 34) days of the month.

The first pushback that I got was from the first endocrinologist I visited after my husband and I got married and moved to St. Louis in 2006. She queried me on my childbearing plans, and when I told her we were using NFP, she thought I was joking. She began to write me a prescription for the pill. I told her that I was going to throw it in the trash. Then she got serious and said she understood that I had convictions, but assured me that being pregnant and diabetic was too hard. I told her I was confident that we could use it successfully to postpone pregnancy, and that I was planning to have children at some point anyway. Then, in a last ditch effort, she told me to come over and babysit for her children (whom she called "monsters") some time, and that would cure me of a desire to have children. I sincerely hope that I never even think of my children in this way, but if I do, I hope that I'm smart enough to keep my mouth shut and pray for God's mercy. Needless to say, my first visit to said endocrinologist was also my last.

This story, my first visit to an endocrinologist as a married woman, is by far the worst. But it's not the only time I've heard jokes, warnings, horror stories, and derision when I've confessed to our use of natural methods to postpone pregnancy. As a diabetic, the stakes are high, since being pregnant and diabetic is hard (the endocrinologist was right about at least one thing), and using natural family planning to postpone pregnancy is not always a walk in the park. As a woman, I am encouraged to see in myself and others that it works. As both a diabetic and a woman, I have a strong interest in monitoring my body's natural patterns and working with them to ensure my continued good health.

I have lots of other thoughts on this subject (especially the "being diabetic and pregnant is hard" and "natural family planning to postpone pregnancy is not always a walk in the park" parts), but I will save them for another post.


  1. Thank you Beth for being courageous to talk about this. I also attest NFP works as I live it with my wife Diana. God's blessings. Patrick in Nairobi, Kenya.

  2. Would you mind if I linked to this on my blog? I'll send you the address so you can see it before I post a link. If you'd like to keep this private that's great, but I'd love to link because I find it an important and useful subject.

    1. Lisa - I'm not sure I ever got back to you about this, but absolutely, yes, you may link to this post (a year too late :). Also, I have another post on NFP called "When 'No' Is Beautiful," with some additional thoughts on using NFP. Thanks for stopping in!