Remember that post I wrote a while back about using NFP to be truly organic?
Well, the talented Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has taken my little idea and written a wonderful article over at Simple Organic which I will post below:
NFP: Natural Parenting Can Start Before Conception
by Katie Kimball on April 7, 2010
in health & nutrition
Some might label my parenting style as “green” or “crunchy,” but all labels aside, I simply seek to be a good steward of the earth’s resources and keep my kids safe from toxins and as healthy as possible.
What I do, I want to do naturally.
For those who are proponents of unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, and wooden toys, it only makes sense that natural parenting would begin before conception.
There are plenty of opportunities for considering parenting before the first pink plus sign.
• Many women choose pre-conception diets to detoxify and prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy.
• Engaged couples are often encouraged to discuss what they think their parenting will look like when the time comes.
Wouldn’t you want your reproductive system to receive the same natural care you give your nutrition and your children’s health?
Oral contraception is the only drug approved to treat a healthy condition as a disease and rewire a normally working system so that it malfunctions. The Pill’s effectiveness lies in ultimately stopping your reproductive system from performing properly, thus preventing pregnancy.
For those who want to be natural parents, who don’t give their children over-the-counter medications or antibiotics when we can avoid them, it is a natural extension of our parenting philosophy to keep our children’s first home – the womb – chemical free.
It’s organic parenting at its finest.
To Conceive or Not to Conceive, Naturally
Everyone knows that sex can result in pregnancy, and each couple must make their own decision about whether they want to achieve or avoid pregnancy at a given time. If children just aren’t in your short-term plan, you have some options to prevent or avoid pregnancy, and each impacts the earth and your health in various ways.
(The following is in chart form over at the original article)
Impact on Earth
Impact on Body
Impact on Earth
Impact on Body
Increased estrogen in water supply (that cannot be filtered out), plastic waste from packaging, “feminized” and sterile fish – possible serious animal kingdom impact
Irritability, decreased sex drive, increased risk of many diseases, especially breast cancer, infertility/trouble getting pregnant later, losing already fertilized eggs
Condoms, other barrier methods
Plastic waste never breaks down, spermicidal pollution
Invasive chemicals and materials – what might be leaching from these items?
Injected Hormonal Contraceptive
Increased hormones in water supply, hazardous medical waste
Similar to oral
Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness
Zero negative impact; see positives below
When my husband and I got married, there was never any question about our choice of birth control. I was “green” enough to know that I never wanted to put drugs in my body when I didn’t need them, and my husband didn’t want to ask me to deal with all the possible side effects of oral contraception.
Our parenting began when we used to pray for our possible future children as we took evening walks as freshmen in college. Long before we even thought about registering for a baby sling, our parenting was “natural” as we made the choice each month whether to seek or avoid a pregnancy and act accordingly, without the help of drugs or products. I had never purchased organic spinach, but I was keeping my uninhabited womb as organic as possible with natural family planning.
What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning, or Fertility Awareness, is the process of observing a woman’s naturally occurring physical cues to fertility, including basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and other symptoms. Fertilization can only occur during a 24-hour stage each cycle, and fertility is easy to determine for a few days on either side of that window.
Charts help a couple keep track of the woman’s fertile and infertile stages, and they can decide whether or not to be intimate based on their desire for a child (or not) at the time. Natural Family Planning is not the rhythm or calendar method.
Benefits of Natural Family Planning
Beyond simply avoiding the harmful physical side effects of artificial contraception, the advantages of Natural Family Planning are many:
For the Woman:
Her body is respected and preserved from chemicals, and she can become aware of health issues related to her fertility, including stress-induced illnesses and more. The decision to avoid pregnancy is completely and immediately reversible. Financial cost = $0.
For the Environment:
There are no chemicals, no packaging waste, and no trips to the doctor for injections or prescriptions. Breastfeeding infertility, often encouraged in natural family planning, even results in fewer feminine products entering the landfills and sewage systems. Contrast this with oral contraceptives, which have caused an increase in estrogen in our water supply that is very troubling. Estrogen (and other synthetic hormones) cannot be filtered out of drinking water, so children and adults alike who drink city water are getting greater exposure to these female hormones.
With 100 million women worldwide using oral contraceptives, this risk is no small potatoes.
For the Marriage:
Longevity is the major benefit: less than 5% of NFP users divorce, compared to 50% in the rest of the (American) population. This is likely a result of NFP’s other marital benefits:
increased communication (discussing “child or no child” every month)
deep respect for one another and each one’s life-giving abilities
cycles of “courtship” and “honeymoon” keep the intimacy fresh, as couples abstain during the fertile period (Yes, when choosing to avoid, it’s like a honeymoon when the fertile phase is over!)
the self-discipline practiced through intermittent abstinence increases both spouses’ self-control in other aspects of life
decreased fear of unwanted pregnancy – you know immediately if you are taking a “risk” or not, unlike the failure rate of oral contraceptives
Information on Natural Family Planning
I cannot say enough good things about NFP. If you truly want an organic, natural home, consider learning about how your body can tell you when you are fertile and when you are not. There are a few different methods, all 99% or more effective at achieving the desired result:
Sympto-Thermal Method (see the Couple to Couple League for classes in your area)
NaPro Technology/Billings Ovulation Method (see the Creighton Model FertilityCare System for more information)
Ovulation Method (see a 27-minute video here to get a grip on the basics)
How is NFP different than contraception?
Find a doctor who will be able to work with you as you strive to have organic fertility.
This may be a touchy subject for comments. I do encourage discussion and assume everyone will be respectful with their opinions. I welcome any questions for me as an NFP user.
I am indebted to Colleen Martin of Martin Family Moments for her connection between NFP and “going organic”.
Thanks Katie!! I hope our articles can help to spread the awareness of the many benefits of using NFP for our bodies and souls!!