Natural Family Planning
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127: 3–5)
In his post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis said that, “each child has a place in God’s heart for all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true.” Catholics believe that every child has a right to be born and a God-given purpose from conception to natural death. The Catholic Church teaches that every human life is sacred which is why it is against the Church’s teachings to try and prevent pregnancy using artificial birth control methods or through abortion.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a method of postponing or helping to achieve pregnancy, all of which are approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Archdiocese of Santa Fe. NFP is based on the observation of the naturally-occurring physical signs during the most fertile days of a woman’s cycle. By abstaining from intercourse during a woman’s most fertile time, couples are able to postpone pregnancy. For couples wanting children right away, intercourse during a woman’s most fertile time will increase the chance of conceiving.
There are different NFP methods that are natural, safe and effective without the use of risky drugs, devices or procedures. Any married couple can effectively use NFP including women with irregular cycles. NFP methods are 97–99% effective when used correctly. Choosing a method is a matter of personal preference. The Archdiocese offers classes for NFP methods including: Creighton Model Fertility Care System and Couple to Couple Sympto-Thermal Method.
Along with postponing pregnancy, NFP can help couples struggling with infertility to achieve pregnancy. The NFP method allows a couple to track the woman’s most fertile time (typically between day nine and 14 of her cycle).
Benefits of NFP for couples wanting children as well as wanting to wait awhile include:
Medically Safe. Because there are no drugs or devices to inhibit or promote pregnancy, NFP is 100% natural. Plus, there are no harmful side effects as there are when using artificial birth control drugs or devices.
Health Awareness. Since NFP makes a woman more aware of her cycle, changes can alert her to possible medical issues.
Effective. NFP is 99% effective in postponing pregnancy - the same effectiveness as artificial birth control.
Low Cost. Because women do not rely on artificial forms of birth control, there is no financial expense associated with NFP.
Helpful for Achieving Pregnancy. Unlike unnatural methods which can have long-term implications on a woman’s fertility, couples can choose to start conceiving as soon as the woman’s next cycle.
More Satisfying Marriages. NFP has a positive impact on marriages including a lower divorce rate, since couples grow closer when communicating about what is going on with the woman’s body as it relates to postponing or trying to conceive. Couples also like being able to give a morally consistent message to their children about sexuality and abstinence.
Morally Acceptable. All major religious bodies including the Catholic Church accept the use of NFP by married couples when there are reasons to postpone pregnancy. Some hormonal birth control methods can actually cause early abortions by preventing new life from implanting in the mother’s uterus.