Baby Steps: NFP

At Nine Weeks

The Catholic Church does not condone the use of contraception. It teaches that every marital act should be open to God and that contraception takes things out of God's hands.

Instead, the Church promotes the practice of Natural Family Planning. NFP works with God, rather than against Him, because it is based on the female cycle of fertility. By creating women to have fertile and infertile periods every month, God gave us a birth control method. It's called self-control.

Through our experience with NFP thus far, we have learned that it is really hard, but that it really works.

Right after we got engaged, we started meeting with an NFP instructor and began charting my cycle. There are several different methods of charting, but we chose the Creighton Model. We met with our instructor about every month {via Skype while we were studying abroad!} and felt pretty confident by the time the wedding rolled around.

During the school year, we didn't find NFP to be super challenging. We were really busy and we knew that trying for a baby was still a ways off. The summer was a different story. We had so much more free time and, by then, we'd decided to start trying in August because we hoped for a baby born early the following summer. Well, we kind of gave up a month early, which is why Baby will arrive in April, shortly before Adam graduates.

We are so, so, so blessed to have conceived in that very first month. But, NFP is also used to achieve pregnancy and is often the first suggestion a doctor will give to a couple with fertility difficulties.

These teachings on contraception are some of the most misunderstood and least discussed teachings of the Catholic faith. For more theological background on the topic, I'm a big fan of Good News About Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. Of course, the Catechism is always a good choice too. For information on the science behind NFP, the Pope Paul VI Institute is a great source. Finally, for more personal testimony, check out this post by a fellow Catholic blogger and this post by a definitely not Catholic blogger.


  1. Okay, so I was a super active Catholic for 20 years, and NFP is something that just never made sense to me...now as I say this, keep in mind that I use NFP and have never used any other kind of birth control in my 9-year marriage.
    I guess to me, when people get into temperatures, and monitoring, and counting, and charting, etc, it feels just like birth control---since you're trying to prevent pregnancy. I don't understand the difference between saying, "We will use this condom to prevent a baby" and "We will use this excel spreadsheet to prevent a baby." I mean in the end, aren't you trying to prevent a baby?
    I hope I'm not being disrespectful. As a lover of the Catholic Church, someone who's never been comfortable with traditional birth control in my marriage, an NFPer, and a member of a religion that promotes ginormous families, I'm honestly trying to understand the logic.
    I hope I'm not making myself sound like a huge ass, because I think you guys are so awesome. I'll go check out the links.
    In the end we all just have to do what feels right, and I admire you guys deeply!!!!

  2. Sex with a condom is an attempt to have "sex without consequences" - an attempt to use sex in a way that God did not intend. Using NFP means you recognize the great life-giving power that God made in sex (which is always it's primary purpose, more so than the union between persons). Instead of deliberately frustrating the meaning of it, you respect it. Instead of indulging yourself whenever you feel like it, blocking one another from the gift of fertility...NFP teaches the value of self-sacrifice, of acceptance and reverence for the fertility each spouse is blessed with. And when NFP is used by Catholics, it should always always be accompanied by regular prayer and discernment to ensure that the "contraceptive mindset" doesn't creep in. If you have truly legitimate reasons to avoid pregnancy, it can be used morally. It means saying, "God, I know we can't have a baby right now. We will therefore sacrifice our enjoyment of the marital act so many days this month" rather than, "God, I know we can't have a baby right now. But we still want to have sex whenever we feel like it. So we're gonna just prevent you from creating a new life when we do that."

    Sorry this was so long and rambling! Just some immediate thoughts on it.

  3. Christine...that was a really great response. Your first line really hit it home for me and it makes perfect sense.
    Actually, your whole response was awesome.
    Thanks for taking the time and effort to clear things up for a perfect stranger on the internet, I appreciate it.
    Personally, I've never been comfortable or okay with using birth control in my marriage--it just never felt right for us, gave me a bad feeling in my gut. I agree with everything you just wrote, and you gave words to my own feelings that I didn't understand.


You are awesome.