Saturday, July 11, 2009

Natural Family Planning and Physiological Birth- By Ann Craigs

Ann has come up with our first real "guest" blog. Thank you Ann! Here it is:
It’s fun to see people’s eyes grow wide when I mention my six physiological births. Four were attended by outsiders and two were assisted by my husband. It’s sad to me however, that when I discuss physiological family planning, people are unaware of what I mean. I learned about natural childbirth from a high school class. I learned about natural family planning from a book.
Not knowing what in the world the title of the book meant, I checked out Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing. It was from La Leche League during the time that I was nursing my first baby. The author, Sheila Kippley, absolutely fascinated me.
Did anyone really space babies like this these days? I almost dismissed the idea; I am a nurse and had never heard of such a thing. Now, skip ahead with me a couple of months. Try to imagine my amazement to discover that my breastfeeding pattern, labeled “ecological breastfeeding” by Kippley, was hormonally keeping my monthly fertility cycles away.
My cute baby nursed frequently day and night. We took a nap together each day, plus delayed solids and liquids until around six months. Since my son hated pacifiers, swings, babysitters and schedules, we avoided them. I nicely went without any menstrual spotting or bleeding for over a year.
Although women breastfeed differently, all these very specific behaviors, named “Seven Standards” by Kippley, usually result in impressive, eco-friendly child spacing. I repeated these special circumstances with all my children. Sheila’s 2008 book, The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding has newer research that should definitely be in nursing school courses. However, the book is written for ordinary moms. I have met many women for years, who are equally pleased with this as I am.
I next learned a broader form of ‘physiological’ family planning. When the breastfeeding infertility stops, I monitor my temperature and cervical signs daily. If not planning a child, we abstain on the fertile days and enjoy marital intimacy on the naturally infertile days. I feel so clean being patch-free, pill-free, shot-free, and latex-free. It’s similar to birthing without drugs, devices, and interventions. I am very respectful of my husband who ‘two-steps’ with me on this. Just as behaviors indicate different stages of labor, so my body signs, jotted down quickly on a chart, indicate my phases of fertility and infertility.
I am indebted to Sheila’s husband, John, as well. This couple just published a slim 2009 book, Natural Family Planning, The Complete Approach. I got a coil-bound version, perfect for home study. In addition to charting, breastfeeding, and special situations, one chapter explains why some use this for moral reasons and another chapter has true stories of how this has improved women’s childbearing years. To preview it, see a free downloadable form at
Ann enjoys all her children, physical and spiritual, that she has been around over the years while volunteering as a nurse, breastfeeding counselor and NFP instructor. She enjoys fishing and knitting and wouldn't trade her life for anyone's - well, maybe trade with a midwife :) Recent highlights in her life include the first grandbaby, plus seeing John and Sheila Kippley receive an honorary doctorate from Franciscan University , both events in the winter of 2008.

Anonymous said...
I had a similar experience to Ann's--learning about ecological breastfeeding and natural family planning through alternative means. I remember mentioning nfp to my doctor before I got married and he dismissed it. I wish that the medical establishment had good data on this method. I would never go back to artificial birth control methods. Natural family planning treats my feminine nature with the dignity it deserves. It treats my marriage with the dignity is deserves.

I have successfully used ecological breastfeeding to postpone my menstrual cycle for up to 15 months. It works to postpone pregnancy and nurtures a beautiful relationship with the new baby. Doctors need to know more about this method and be able to offer more options to their patients.

T Kimmel, mother of 7 and a baby on the way


  1. Here's another good book on NFP:
    Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler


  2. I mean no offense in this response, I just wanted to state my experience:
    When nursing my daughter I did not have the opportunity to keep my menstrual cycle at bay. I breast-fed my daughter for 8 months. 8 whole months. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. That girl hated to eat. And breast-feeding hurt. I remember yelling for Rob* in the middle of the night because she had just spit up bloody milk. My bloody milk. I had been so intent on making her eat that nutritious stuff that I was basically forcing her to drink from me even though I was all cracked up and bleeding. And even after I heeled up it was still traumatic. She always hated it and was always fighting it. It hurts sometimes when I hear that if you do it right, if you're good at it, then a natural birth is the right thing, and that breast-feeding will be a special experience, the right experience, and be a natural birth control. Which it was not for me, I got my period very soon after my daughter's birth.
    I guess I'm just saying, (because I am very pro-breast-feeding and will try to breast-feed all of my children) that I don't like hearing that if you don't do things all naturally and have a home birth and breast-feed (because now I don't, my daughter is on formula), then you are doing something wrong. And I don't like hearing that if you don't go to the hospital to give birth then you are doing something wrong. I think every woman should be given credit for trying to do what she thinks is right and following her intuition.

    *name has been changed

  3. This is Ann; I am too computer illiterate to know how else to sign in!....

    Anyways, you are a hero to me for persevering for so long; OUCH! I had one child who bit a lot and I wound up weaning much sooner than the others. My cycles then returned immediately. I was disappointed but I sure was relieved of all that agony! None of the mommy 'tricks' worked. I wonder if there was a La Leche League Leader or a Lactation consultant there to try to help you?

    I would also be upset at someone telling you that you were doing something "wrong". I believe that the intent of these blogs is to inform people about different ways of nursing because nursing is surely a learned behavior. Maybe there will be another time for you to have a smoother breastfeeding experience. In the meantime, let me know what you think!

  4. Haha, oh you're so sweet. Thank you for replying to my comment. I hope I didn't sound too forthright, but that really was my sad experience. I really do believe though that my daughter is a one of a kind no drinking girl. She has never found much comfort from drinking. I am sure that my other babies will do better. Unless it was my milk? Ak! What if I have nasty milk and traumatize all of my babies!?

  5. this is Ann again -- some babies really do know what they want, and what they don't - they are not laid back - I had low milk supply with the biting child and she did not like that - sometimes it can be the taste of the milk, other times, the flow speed of the milk ; even the shape of the nipple or, as you say , just not wanting to nurse - we cannot make them nurse! I am so glad that you hope to try again - hope to hear from you how it goes -