Okay, so yes, we’re going there today. We’re talking about babies, birth control, how to track NFP, and all that jazz. So if that’s not your thing, go ahead and click away – you won’t hurt my feelings. 🙂
So why are we talking about this today? Well, first off many of y’all know that I’m Catholic. Which means we don’t use contraceptives like birth control pills or condoms or any other thing that the medical industry decides will prevent pregnancies. But, even though I’m Catholic, I have been on birth control before – not to prevent pregnancy but because I’ve suffered since I was teenager from both endometriosis and now adenomyosis.
And y’all…birth control made me CRA CRA – like for real. I’m pretty certain there was a time when my husband thought I might just murder him in his sleep. I was full blown riding the crazy train.
Anyway. We decided that the whole being on birth control thing wasn’t worth it – we didn’t feel right about it – religious beliefs aside. Also, now that we no longer have traditional health insurance (we’re with a healthcare sharing ministry) paying for something like that out of pocket would eat a huge hole in our budget every month.
So, we’ve been following the NFP (Natural Family Planning) method and since a few of my real life friends have asked me “how the heck do you follow this plan”, I thought I’d put together how we track when we can and when we can’t get pregnant.
Before You Get Started
Before you get started, please know that it can take anywhere from 8-12 months to fully know your cycle. Which is why you’re going to want to track your cycle for at least 8 months.
What you’ll need:
- A calendar (you can use Google Calendar, a paper planner, or a calendar from the dollar store – whatever works for you)
- A pen
Day one is the day you start your menstrual cycle. For me, I just put an “X” on that day on the calendar. After your cycle has ended, mark that day on the calendar (I usually just put another “X” on that date). Usually by day 7 (seven days from when you started your cycle) your body is preparing for ovulation.
Based on a 28-day cycle, days 11-21 are the days in which ovulation (i.e. when you can get pregnant) happen.I mark on my calendar by circling days 10-22 to let me know that’s typically my ovulation time. Again, this is different for every woman which is why you need to track your cycle for at least a few months to know exactly when your ovulation period is.
Typically by day 28, if the egg hasn’t been fertilized it breaks apart and your next cycle begins.
Pick the longest and shortest of your cycles from your tracking (the 8-month tracking that you’ve done). And since American Pregnancy explains this way better than I can…
“The first day of your fertility window is determined by subtracting 18 days from the length of your shortest cycle. If your shortest menstrual cycle was 26 days, subtract 18 from 26, which gives you the number 8. This means that the first day of your fertility window starts on the 8th day of your cycle.
The last fertile day is determined by subtracting 11 from the length of your longest cycle. If 32 days was your longest menstrual cycle, take 32 and subtract 11, which give you 21. This means that the last day of your fertility period is on the 21st day of your cycle.”
Now that you’ve done everything listed above, look at the time in between your first and last fertile days – this is considered your fertility window. So in the above example, the fertility window is from the 8th day to the 21st day of the cycle. Ovulation is expected to happen one day during this time frame. If you need a little more help with figuring out ovulation, this ovulation calendar example is great. (Plus it has an interactive calendar!)
And…that’s really it. There are several other natural family methods you can use out and many of them go along with NFP so you definitely have several different options that you can use in place of barrier birth control.
Do you use NFP? What resources or helpful tricks can you share with us?
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