I'm so excited to bring you these posts for this week. Since it is NFP Awareness Week, we are featuring a blogger every day, all here to discuss their NFP or FAM use.

NFP = Natural Family Planning

FAM = Fertility Awareness Method
I love that all of them have totally different perspectives and ideas of NFP/FAM, and all come from different places as to why or how they came about using NFP or FAM.

1. Introduce yourself. Tell us a little about your family, husband and children.

I'm Haley, a bookish Catholic wife and mother of three (preschooler, toddler, and newborn). I'm a free-lance writer, blogger, ballet teacher, urban homesteader, and even though I don’t have a strong southern accent, I love my sweet tea and fried okra. After quitting grad school to be home with my little ones, I homeschool my 4-year-old, chase our backyard chickens, and eat plenty of bacon.

When I get a moment to myself, you’ll find me with a book and a cup of coffee in hand (extra cream, please). My husband of seven years is an amazing dad, gardener, beard-grower, and ultra-marathon runner. I write about cultivating a Catholic family through literature, liturgical living, and urban homesteading on my blog Carrots for Michaelmas.

Our family when Baby #3 was still in utero.

2. Where did you first learn about NFP/FAM? Why do you and your husband choose to practice NFP/FAM?

For the first 18 months of our marriage, I was on the Pill. But even the low dose I was taking gave me unbearable mood swings, headaches, and nausea/vomiting. The combination of wanting to feel like myself again and being drawn to a different mindset about my fertility was enough to convince us to stop using the Pill.

The honest truth is, because I was in the last semester of my senior year, after quitting the Pill, I put off researching alternatives until I turned in my senior thesis. I'm so glad I procrastinated because a few days after my graduation we discovered we were expecting our first child. We would never have planned to get pregnant at the time but it changed our lives for the better in a thousand ways.

After our son was born I read Toni Weshler’s book on FAM entitled Taking Charge of Your Fertility. During the same time, we converted to Catholicism and fell in love with a theology that views children as a wonderful and natural result of married love. I was also empowered by the idea that my body isn’t broken and in need of medication to “fix” my fertility and that any future decision to postpone pregnancy would be the result of following the natural rhythms of my body.

"I was empowered by the idea that my body isn’t broken." <--- Tweet this.

3. What type of NFP/FAM are you practicing? How did you choose this type over others? Has this changed at all during your marriage?

We jokingly refer to our type of NFP as “AFP” or Awesome Family Planning because for the past few years we've done no planning at all and haven’t tried to avoid or achieve pregnancy. We’ve been blessed with two beautiful daughters since the birth of our son. We love the adventure of not trying to plan our family and letting it grow as it will, and we’ve adhered to the principles of Ecological Breastfeeding promoted by Sheila Kippley in order to space our babies. (Ecological Breastfeeding is not a method of NFP and as my fertility returns only 5 or 6 months postpartum, it doesn’t provide our family with much spacing between pregnancies).

During my last pregnancy, I experienced severe morning sickness lasting almost to the third trimester that kept me in bed for weeks. So, we’re considering attempting to delay pregnancy for the first time since I quit the Pill by using the Marquette Method. There are so many great NFP options out there, but I’m overwhelmed by the idea of learning them postpartum while breastfeeding because detecting fertility signs is so difficult during those months. Marquette seems like the right fit for us during the postpartum season because it uses a fertility monitor to determine your peak days. Speaking of which, now that I'm almost 2 months postpartum... I should probably start learning the method. 4. Why do you think artificial birth control, like the pill, is the default option for many women who are trying to postpone pregnancy?

I think that few women know that there are alternatives. When I got married, I had no idea that there was an option other than artificial birth control. I also think that many women confuse modern NFP/FAM with the antiquated rhythm method which was highly ineffective. If women knew that NFP was as effective as the Pill, I think more women would explore NFP.

5. What do you think are the major benefits to using NFP/FAM versus artificial birth control? What are the major cons?

There are so many benefits that I don’t know where to begin! From a health and wellness perspective, NFP has no negative risks to a woman’s health whereas oral contraception has a plethora of negative effects. I recently read that ingesting the amount of artificial hormones contained in one daily dose of the Pill is comparable to eating more than 2,000 lbs of beef injected with artificial hormones. If it’s so important to stay away from the hormones found in non-organic meat products, why are we willing to consume these hormones to alter the way our bodies naturally work?

Furthermore, the mindset of artificial contraception treats women’s bodies as defective and requiring a medical cure for their fertility and treats pregnancy as a disease. NFP also educates women about their reproductive health and helps women detect possible reproductive health problems that they might not otherwise have detected. NFP also doesn’t require the use of barrier methods like condoms that, in my opinion, decrease the enjoyment of sex.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint any obvious cons for using NFP over artificial contraception considering that NFP is as effective in avoiding pregnancy as the Pill and often more effective in achieving pregnancy than fertility treatments such as in-vitro. Most methods do require certain daily tasks such as recording waking temperature and noting other fertility signs, but these tasks seem hardly more taxing than taking a daily pill.

6. If you used NFP/FAM to achieve pregnancy, how long did that process take?

 We haven’t actively used NFP to achieve pregnancy. Instead we just didn’t chart and were open to becoming pregnant at any time.

7. Anything else you think would be important to know for those considering NFP/FAM?

 NFP not only refers to certain methods of fertility awareness. It is a mindset. I believe it is a natural and wonderful lifestyle with a deeper respect for women’s bodies and rhythms of fertility. It encourages an openness to life that is healthy for marriages and honors the procreative as well as unitive aspects of sexuality.
 
I want to thank Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas so much for sharing this with us! Comment and let us know your thoughts, and don't forget to check out her blog.  Haley also has an awesome series called Women Speak on NFP.
Other featured NFP Awareness Week Posts:

In between tweeting, reading books to my daughters, and [not] burning mac n cheese, I am the Founder + Creative Director of Blessed is She women's ministry + community.