Ten years ago, I began researching fertility and natural alternatives to achieving and avoiding pregnancy. The more research I did, the more I realized that there was a decided lack of current, accurate information on the internet. After becoming pregnant with my first child, I focused my research to learn how to space my children without using birth control. Though my family has a long history of breastfeeding and childbirth, they did not provide me with any information that I could use. I didn’t want to use hormones while breastfeeding but neither did I want to get pregnant again immediately. While there has been significant research validating ecological breastfeeding, at the time it had not caught on. There was very little information on the internet about practically applying it in everyday life. Needless to say, using the information on the internet, I was soon pregnant with my second child and then my third child. At that point, my forays into natural family planning were not working.
Natural Family Planning and Physicians
I was desperate to find a way to space my children without artificial hormones or invasive devices; I looked to my OB/GYN and the local health department. My OB and the health department could not provide me with any information about natural family planning, and in fact I was openly mocked by the doctors and nurses. The health department tried giving me Cycle Beads with very little instruction. I refused them, knowing that they would be completely ineffective as I was breastfeeding and didn’t yet have a menstrual cycle. It seemed that I knew more about managing my fertility than they did.
Do-it-yourself Natural Family Planning
Discouraged and outraged, I obtained as much information as I could and assembled my own version of natural family planning. It worked for two years until I found myself pregnant with child number four. When my family and I relocated to another state, I was soon able to find a natural family planning instructor. I learned the Billings Ovulation Method. I cannot stress enough how important an instructor is when using natural family planning. This system taught me what I had been doing wrong all these years (I will write more about this and other methods in subsequent posts). I was able to successfully navigate breastfeeding my fourth child without getting pregnant.
However, my hormones started acting up in very obvious ways shortly after giving birth. None of the doctors I spoke to about it could give me an answer. I was experiencing what is known as “tail-end brown bleeding” from the end of my menstrual cycle on up to and including the day of ovulation. I went to two OB/GYNs and a hematology specialist. The answers I received ranged from “it is normal” to “there is nothing wrong.” Not one of them could explain this very obviously abnormal symptom. They all seemed unconcerned even though I knew that something was up.
I continued my research of the female reproductive system, as I realized that neither the Billings Ovulation method nor the Sympto/Thermal Method did anything to help the women who had health problems such as PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, or in my case abnormal bleeding.
Natural Family Planning With Irregular Cycles
My continued search for answers led me to another method of natural family planning called the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. The Creighton Model is considered the gold standard of the natural family planning world. Creighton has been able to research and document in a woman’s chart hormonal irregularities and how they relate to her overall fertility and health. Finally, I had a method of not only diagnosing but also treating the abnormality I experienced. With the use of the Creighton Model and NaPro Technology it is possible to work cooperatively with a woman’s cycle to help seek treatment for health problems like my abnormal bleeding pattern.
I fell in love with this method and went through the extensive training course to become a presenter and promoter for the Creighton Model. I originally set out to become a practitioner for this method so that I could help other women get the education they needed. I soon learned about the politics that surround natural family planning. We’ve all heard the jokes. “You know what you call a woman who uses natural family planning?……….. Pregnant.” Well, that pretty much sums up what most people think of natural family planning. Teachers are abundantly available for those interested in learning any method of natural family planning; but there is much more work to be done to change our culture’s current paradigm surrounding natural family planning
Luckily, we have come pretty far over the last decade. There is ever more press and discussion these days about the side effects of hormonal birth control (I will add a few links here). More and more women are deciding against hormonal birth control. Though, there is still much work to be done,natural family planning is becoming a viable alternative to the pill and other devices.
A New Approach: Fertility Awareness
Fertility Awareness is catching on as the new bias free catch phrase for a concept that has been around since the beginning of the birth control explosion. I have dedicated my life to spreading and sharing the wonder that is natural “organic birth control.” What we women really need is more voices who advocate for, and promote today’s modern Fertility Awareness Methods (FAM).
Over the coming weeks, I will be writing articles about the various methods of Fertility Awareness; the pros, the cons and my personal experiences with each. If you’d like learn how to navigate pregnancy naturally or if you have been diagnosed with a women’s health problem that you are currently treating with birth control, follow me on Hormones Matter. If you’d like to share your own experiences with natural family planning and fertility awareness, click Write for Us and send us a note.