Archive for June, 2016

Natural Family Planning and Dr. Konald Prem

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

The Sympto-Thermal Method

Konald A. Prem M.D. and the STM. We met Dr. Konald A. Prem through his interest in ecological breastfeeding. He and Sheila were scheduled to be on the “breastfeeding and spacing” panel at the La Leche League convention in 1971. Because a job change brought us to the Twin Cities, we were able to meet with Dr. Prem before the convention so they could decide who would cover what material. When that was done, we asked him if he would be interested in helping us get an NFP organization started, and he was very enthusiastic about the idea. He was already teaching individual couples and giving talks in one parish after another, and he realized that something more was needed. He was well respected nationally, served a term as the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Minnesota, and was selected as the advisor to the STM side of the 1976-1978 comparative study in Los Angeles. When I asked him about teaching the temperature-only system of G. K. Doering, he insisted that we cross-check the three days of full-thermal shift with at least two days of drying-up of the cervical mucus—what we label as Rule K— with the K standing for Konald.   The 1967 Doering study is at our website ( . This may be the only English translation; we didn’t find one available so we hired a translator.)

Dr. Konald Prem taught us the sympto-thermal method during our first year of natural family planning classes at St. Odilia’s Parish in St. Paul MN. He came to every class each month that first year.

John F. Kippley

Natural Family Planning and Ecological Breastfeeding

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Ecological Breastfeeding.   It is common in the NFP movement these days to talk about evidence-based claims or statements. This certainly applies to the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.

When Sheila was pregnant with our first baby born in mid-1964, she took the advice of her childbirth instructor and attended La Leche League classes, later becoming a Leader. At each meeting, the Leader would review the LLL talking points about breastfeeding including the spacing benefits of “total” breastfeeding, the term then used for “exclusive” breastfeeding. The mothers noticed the wide variation in the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea among the various mothers they counseled, and one of the Leaders asked Sheila to research it. The results of her research were first published in the JOGNN in 1972. See . Among mothers who nursed their babies according to the Seven Standards, the average duration of amenorrhea was 14.6 months. In 1989 we repeated the study with a much larger sample and found an average duration of 14.5 months ( ). A natural family planning teacher, H. William Taylor, did his doctoral dissertation on ecological breastfeeding and then did several other published studies, finding similar or identical results.   Most recently, Sheila published the research of others for each of the Standards in her book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor.   There is no question: the duration claims of Ecological Breastfeeding according to the Seven Standards are evidence-based.

I enjoy reading the results of other researchers, but there is something qualitatively different about Sheila’s research. I think she was the first mom-researcher. She had the distinct advantage of associating with other nursing moms. They could discuss the various facets of baby care and speculate whether this or that factor might influence the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea. Sheila was able to incorporate these factors into her survey, and it’s from those completed surveys that we found the above results. I am not aware of anyone who has challenged them. NFP teachers Bill and Donna Taylor were enthusiastic about ecological breastfeeding, and his research has supported both of our studies.

John F. Kippley


Natural Family Planning and the Marriage Covenant

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

The Covenant Theology of Marriage.  In the fall of 1981, I gave a copy of the revised title, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant, to Pope John Paul II and to others in the Vatican, including then-Monsignor Carlo Caffara at the John Paul II Institute. Msgr. Caffara and I discussed the covenant theology, and he seemed genuinely interested.

Sometime in the mid-Eighties, the Hahns read the book and credit it for helping them to accept Catholic teaching on birth control when they were still Protestants. It was the concept of the renewal of the marriage covenant and its connection with the reception of Holy Communion that was decisive for Scott; I don’t know about Kimberly, but she read the book and accepted the teaching before he did.

In 1994, Pope John Paul II incorporated the renewal of the marriage covenant concept into his Letter to Families. “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” (n. 12, para. 12, his emphasis). That concept was not in his Theology of the Body concluded ten years previously.

Christopher West expounds considerably on the Theology of the Body (TOB). When we heard his lectures here in Cincinnati some years ago, he concluded his replies to questions by saying, “Just remember, the marriage act ought to be a renewal of your wedding vows.” Again, the “renewal of the marriage vows or marriage covenant” does not appear in the text of Pope John Paul II in the TOB. Despite that, West has found that this very brief statement of the covenant theology of the marriage act is an excellent way to summarize the teaching of the TOB.

For all of the above reasons, I think the covenant theology of the marriage act is helpful and should not be discarded. I think it ought to be included in every NFP program as well as in other marriage classes.

Next week: Ecological Breastfeeding

John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant