Archive for the ‘Mucus-only’ Category

Natural Family Planning with 4 organizations

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

An NFP Teacher’s Experience (1982-2015)

I am happy to share some thoughts about NFP, since we are probably unusual in that we have now studied with 4 different NFP organizations.   Shortly before our marriage in 1982, we took an NFP class from an organization that taught the mucus-only method.  We met with a very nice woman who taught us about mucus.  I think that if a man had also been involved in the teaching, it would have been helpful.  As it was, my husband was not enthusiastic and did not really believe that “normal” men did abstinence.  Between my husband’s reluctance and the fact that I could not figure out the mucus-only method, we did not use NFP.  Instead, we resorted to barrier methods for the first few years of our marriage.

Four years later, I was able to observe the return of fertility after our first baby was 14 months old, and I decided that now I only wanted to use NFP, no more contraceptives for me!  I found a new NFP organization shortly after the birth of our second son.  This group taught the sympto-thermal method.  It made so much sense to me, as a scientist by training I could easily figure it out.  Cross checking the symptoms gave me a clear picture and confidence in the effectiveness.

Yet my charts with a 3-month-old breastfeeding baby were very different from what I saw in the book.  There was little information given for breastfeeding mothers.  I received a one-page handout about postpartum that was not covered in the book.  Very powerful message there; apparently breastfeeding amenorrhea was not part of the normal course of fertility!  I eventually found through my own observations that the all-the-time mucus of breastfeeding was best ignored and to watch the cervix.  I sure wish that had been addressed!  It would have saved us a lot of unnecessary abstinence.  

When my fertility returned with this second child, again at 14 months, I now had charts that looked like those in the book, so we took a second four class series with this same NFP organization to learn to interpret my cycles.  We continued using the sympto-thermal method for several years including through a miscarriage and the birth of our daughter followed by two more miscarriages.

One day after liturgy, I found an NFP magazine at our parish hall.   This magazine provided support and continuing education for couples through yet another sympto-thermal organization.  However this organization included breastfeeding as an integral part of the cycle of fertility!  My breastfeeding amenorrhea was not abnormal (14-20 months).

We now desired to teach so I looked into all the NFP methods in order to comparison shop.  I wanted a sympto-thermal method, my husband felt it critically important to have men involved in the teaching to provide a witness to male abstinence; and I agreed with him.  The NFP group that taught us the sympto-thermal method was very expensive to train.  I spoke with them and was not interested in their focus on teaching being a moneymaking proposition versus an apostolate.  Additionally they did not teach how to use breastfeeding as a valid form of natural family planning, which I felt was very important.

Hands down, the NFP organization I had found in the magazine won out.   We first took a full four class series with a local teaching couple, which brings us to the third organization we studied NFP with.  Then we trained as teachers and began to teach 16 years after our first NFP class in 1982.  We continued teaching for 10 years, until the program was revised and eliminated the focus on breastfeeding as a form of natural family planning.  We served in our community encouraging couples to study NFP and talked about how breastfeeding spaces babies.  Recently my daughter and her fiancé took their NFP class from this organization and she was dismayed that no information was given on how breastfeeding is a form of natural family planning and is as licit to use for child spacing as is systematic NFP.  It was time for a change for us.

Shortly afterward, I found that there is one NFP training organization that has the most complete program including breastfeeding.  I learned this when I saw a letter to the editor by John Kippley in a national Catholic publication.  Now we took another full NFP series with Natural Family Planning International; which brought us to NFP organization number four! I feel that NFPI is the only NFP organization that is teaching a comprehensive program to address the challenges we face in the modern world of using natural methods of family planning.  It has multiple rules to address problematic charts.   It makes sense to include lactational amenorrhea in the NFP picture.  It is the original form of family planning throughout the ages.   For those who do not want to use systematic NFP with the charting and abstinence, we have ecological breastfeeding to help them learn how God’s design for baby care spaces babies.  There is nowhere else to learn it that I am aware of, other than Sheila Kippley’s work.
I have the sense that simplifying NFP methods, with marketing, apps, promoting and branding focus, etc. has apparently led the younger generation to more easily view NFP as “Catholic birth control.”  They have been raised in a world with a contraceptive mentality, of sex on demand and without babies as a consequence.  With that mindset, we are encountering people who are dissatisfied with NFP.  We believe this has led to a backlash against NFP.  They do not understand the differences between NFP and contraception, or the sacrifices inherent in marriage.  

We know that natural family planning is not the same as a contraceptive, and so does NFPI.  We must share this important difference.  NFPI is teaching with information that has stood the test of time.  So though NFPI does not have fancy branding or webinars, etc., it has the truth.  In the long run, that will prevail.  We are pleased to be part of the NFPI organization!

Margaret Turano, MS, IBCLC, LLLL  (Paul and Margaret Turano became NFPI teachers as of August 6, 2015)
If you would want to get the NFPI program started in your area, contact NFPI.


Natural Family Planning: Why NFP International Is Needed

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

By the fall of 2004 it was becoming clear to us that the NFP organization we founded in 1971 was making changes or dropping the three main teachings we brought to that organization that had served people so well for the 32 years of our leadership.

These three main teachings are called the Triple Strand.  We think the Triple Strand is so good that it needs to be kept alive and spread– we think that everybody in the world has the right to know these things.  Further, we think that our two specific charisms (the eco-breastfeeding and the covenant theology) are special gifts from God and have been confirmed by the actions and words of St. John Paul II.  In addition, Dr. Konald Prem’s teaching of the sympto-thermal method is superior to other NFP methods and should continue to be taught.  Thus this was the main reason, among others, as to why we started NFP International.

Regarding ecological breastfeeding
In 1995 St. John Paul II co-hosted with the Royal Society of England a conference on breastfeeding at the Vatican.  In his talk, he endorsed the recommendations of UNICEF and the WHO for mothers to breastfeed for two years and beyond.  Frequent suckling is the only way that a mother will have a milk supply at 12, 18, and 24 months.  And the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding are a mother’s best assurance of frequent suckling. Some couples use only eco-bf to space their babies apart.  We know of two mothers who have written a series of blogs about the Seven Standards.  One’s website was called something like “Crunchy Lutheran Mom.”  The other wrote for her diocesan paper in Ireland.

Regarding the Covenant theology
In 1994, ten years after he completed his opus magnum of the Theology of the Body, the Pope wrote a short document titled “Letter to Families from John Paul II.”  In it he specifically endorsed the covenant theology.  “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.”  This may be the first time a Pope has used such terminology.  Scott Hahn, a rather famous convert, told me that I am the first person (of whom he is aware) to put that concept into writing.  I can’t prove or disprove his opinion, but I take it seriously because he is the best-read person I know.  My book, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant, was the occasion for him and his wife to learn this when they were married students in a Protestant seminary.  At the time, Scott considered himself the most anti-Catholic member of the student body.  I consider it divine Providence that another couple in their married student housing complex lent that book to his wife, Kimberly, whose father was the fairly well known pastor of a Presbyterian church in North College Hill.

Regarding the Prem STM
In 1976-1978 the US Bishops NFP organization persuaded NIH to conduct a study to compare the Billings mucus-only system with the cross-checking sympto-thermal system.  The results were so much in favor of the STM that the investigators stopped the study.  The difference was something like twice as many unplanned pregnancies in the mucus-only section.  It was a randomized study, and the investigators could no longer pretend that they didn’t know which half of the study was more effective in avoiding pregnancy.  Yet two of the principal mucus-only advocates put up such a fuss that these results are by and large ignored.  All too many mucus-only advocates have the diocesan NFP jobs.

Soooooo, in a nutshell, that’s why we feel obliged to do what we can to keep these ideas alive.

John and Sheila Kippley
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
From July 19th to the evening of August 7th (NFP Awareness Week through World Breastfeeding Week) anyone can purchase the following printed books at a 40% discount at lulu:
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

Natural Family Planning: A Debate Once Settled

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

The Catholic Church is the only real hope of this country.  The Protestant churches have all caved on the matter of birth control, most of the them have caved on abortion, and I’m not sure how many will stand firm against sodomy as marriage.  Logically, the acceptance of contraception entails the acceptance of sodomy, as was predicted and then fulfilled in the Church of England.

The importance of the Catholic Church is what makes our work so frustrating.

Also frustrating is the fact that the US  Bishops started the Human Life Foundation in 1968 which then succeeded in getting the NIH to run a comparative study of the Ovulation Method (OM) and the Sympto-Thermal Method  (STM) in 1976-1978.  What they found was that the STM was so superior to the OM that they discontinued the study early.  The professional ethics of the investigators would not allow them to put people into the OM side after they were certain that the STM was superior.  As the study reported, “It is of interest that after couples were informed in August, 1978, that a statistically significant trend in the pregnancy rates between the OM and STM groups had been found, almost all of the STM volunteers continued in training and virtually all of the OM volunteers requested to be, and were, thoroughly trained in STM.”

Drs. John Billings and Thomas Hilgers raised objections, apparently forgetting that any faults of the study applied to both sides, and their comments had no effect on the final report in 1981.  So after the bishops got this study, the various diocesan offices seem to ignore it.  It seems to me that dioceses do more promotion of the OM than any other program.  The user effectiveness of the OM in that study was just under 61%.  The Joanne Doud study of the Creighton Model reported a user effectiveness of 96% but when standard statistics were applied (counting the pregnancies that the couples themselves said were unplanned), the rate was 67%.  Yet dioceses seem to think that this is the way to go.

I have to wonder if one reason for the failure of the Church to persuade great numbers of couples to use only natural methods might be that the imperfect-use rates of the most touted systems are in the same ballpark as the Calendar Rhythm that they sometimes compare and criticize.

I am convinced that the bishops need to adopt a core curriculum for NFP that will give couples sufficient information so that they will be able to make informed choices about which signs they want to use or not use.  What we have had for the last 45 years has not been working.  I think it’s time to have both a mandated course and that such a course be sufficiently complete.

John Kippley