Postpartum NFP


#1

Hello,
My husband and I just had a beautiful baby girl who is 9 weeks old. She was born with an Omphalocele (stomach liver intestines and spleen growing in a sac outside her body) and will have major surgery to have everything placed back in when she is about a year old. After prayer and consulting with a priest we felt using NFP was something we should practice until Gianna has her surgery.

Being new to NFP, I am very confused about the postpartum period. We can't really afford to take classes right now from an instructor so I have ordered the book on NFP. I was not able to breastfeed her since she was in the hospital for the first six weeks of life, but I exclusively pumped until two weeks ago. (I didn't have a good milk supply) She has always been bottle fed and now is on exclusive formula for two weeks. When I pumped I would pump 8 times a day. I am now almost 10 weeks postpartum waiting for my cycle to return and have started to check for signs of fertility minus my temp because she gets up all hours of the night.

My husband and I have been abstaining but are beginning to find this extremely difficult not being able to be intimate with eachother. Are you ever allowed to have intimate relations during the postpartum time? If I am checking my cervix and mucus and cross checking with a temp and there is no mucus and my cervix feels low hard and closed can you have relations?

With everything we've already gone through with our daughter, NFP has definitely added a lot of strain on our relationship...we both keep reminding each other that this is a sacrifice and it won't last forever!

Any help would be much appreciated.


#2

Congratulations on your little girl! I pray her health improves and the surgery goes well.

My DH and I started learning NFP (Sympto-Thermal Method) when our youngest was 2 months old. Learning it during the postpartum time was difficult, since I hadn’t ever charted before. We couldn’t afford the class so I talked with my priest and he said our parish would pay for the cost of the class for us! I highly recommend doing this – having our teachers available for questions and really being there to support us has made all the difference. (I know they’re praying for us too.) You know, I’m pretty sure that purchasing the book and everything includes taking the class. Go to www.ccli.org and see if you can find a class near you. It is totally worth it!

From starting to learn it last June all the way through January was OK. I was breastfeeding the entire time, so the frequency of relations wasn’t what it was before our youngest was born. Since the end of January until now, we’ve completely abstained because things have been so wacky. Our daughter weaned from BFing in mid-March, and my cycle has just returned, so we’re hopeful that all the abstaining will soon be over!

Essentially, during the postpartum time you need 4 dry days in order to be “safe.”

Again, having an instructor to help you with this is extremely helpful because sometimes things get confusing.

Best wishes for you, and I’ll say a prayer for you. I **know **how difficult abstaining is, but it is possible and while challenging, I know it will ultimately be a blessing for us and I hope it will be for you as well. :slight_smile: :hug1:


#3

If you were pumping 8 times a day until 2 weeks ago this may delay the onset of your period. Everyone’s body is different but your body believed you were breastfeeding until 2 weeks ago and it may take awhile for you to ovulate and get a period again.

There is no way of predicting this as it can happen differently for each person. Continue to watch for signs that you are ovulating and be patient. It may be next week or it may be several months. Sorry if this does not solve your problem.

Congratulations on your beautiful new baby and I will pray for a successful surgery and full healing.


#4

Hi there,

No, you do not need to abstain for the whole of the postpartum time! That being said, it is really important to work with an instructor! A book gives you general information, but an instructor can help you in many ways:
-making sure you are making your observations correctly
-teach you how to interpret your chart so you can have confidence in the infertile days, and abstain when you are potentially fertile.
-probably help you identify more days available for intercourse than if you were trying to self-learn the method.

It may be tempting to say,“We’ll just abstain until normal cycles resume”. That is difficult, but possible. However, perhaps if you are able to have another child down the road, that child may be able to be breastfed, and your post-partum infertility may last a lot longer. Also, as you approach menopause, there is likely to be a time where your cycles are not regular that lasts over several years or more. It is really important to be able to use NFP when you are not having regular cycles, and an instructor can help you do that.

I have heard from many people, both on various online forums and in my personal life who learned how to do nfp either on their own or with just a basic marriage-prep presentation. They know very well how to postpone pregnancy when they are having regular cycles, but as soon as something happens where they are no longer having those regular cycles (illness, stress, post-partum, approaching menopause), they feel mainly confusion, and it puts a major strain on the relationship. My experience as an NFP instructor is that couples who love each other will not find it excessively burdensome to abstain when they know that the woman is potentially fertile (if they have a serious reason to postpone pregnancy). However, even loving couples will find it difficult to abstain when they are uncertain about the woman’s state of fertility, especially for prolonged periods of time. They may persevere in their abstinence, which for some couples can bring them closer, but for many couples (especially where one or the other is not fully committed to NFP), it puts a great strain on the relationship. However many couples will end out resorting to immoral means of postponing pregnancy, or they will ‘take chances’ which can result in an unexpected pregnancy. NFP gets the blame, when really it was because they didn’t have help to learn to chart through cycle irregularities.

In your post, you mentioned that it was becoming difficult for you and your husband to abstain. This is not because you don’t love each other, or because you don’t have self-control. It’s because there is uncertainty about whether or not you are actually fertile on any given day, and whether the extended abstinence is necessary. If you knew that you were potentially fertile today, it would make it easier for you and your husband to abstain from intercourse. If you knew that you were not fertile today, you would be able to have relations with your husband, and strengthen your bond, which I’m sure must be being tested by having a child with health concerns.

Please consider taking the time to take an NFP class and have an instructor follow up with you regularly until you return to normal cycles and both you and the instructor feel confident that you know the method. My husband and I teach the Billings method (www.billingslife.org) which is helpful in the post-partum period because you don’t need to take temperature. (Temperature is a less-helpful indicator of potential fertility when the woman is not ovulating regularly, or when a woman’s sleep is interrupted at night). But any of the modern nfp methods are reliable when you work with an instructor during the learning phase, and apply the rules. It will be worth it for you to learn it now, because then it will help you chart through any future time in your life when you are not having regular cycles.


#5

I am in a very similar situation. I have a 9-week old who spent 4 1/2 weels in the NICU after birth and I've been exclusively pumping ever since then. I know what you mean about not having a good supply - it was HARD to build one up. I had to pump for at least 20 minutes between 9 and 11 times each day (every 2-3 hours around the clock) and I still can't let more than 3 hours go between pumpings or my supply drops off again!

NFP during the postpartum period is extremely difficult. My husband and I have the CCL homestudy course which has all the materials used in class plus you can send in your charts each month for feedback and call instructors for help. However, if your signs are confusing, inconsistent, and conflicting as they often are postpartum, even having the help of an instructor doesn't do much. I'm on my second cycle postpartum now (immediate return of fertility is normal for my family) and last month, my mucus showed a clear peak midcycle that looked like it could have been backed up by temps (for the first part of the cycle I was still trying to get into a routine with the new baby home so temps were inconsistent) BUT, a week after that I had a more obvious temperature rise, fertile mucus, and my period came 13 days later so it meant that must have been when I ovulated. After I first thought I had ovulated, my husband had been crawling all over me for days so I finally gave in, but looking back it meant we had relations within a day of the actual ovulation. Scary!! So I spent the next two weeks worried that I was going to be pregnant two months after giving birth, while my c-section scar still hurt and my blood pressure hadn't even come down all the way from the preeclampsia! Having high blood pressure at the time of conception increases the risk for preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, and considering that 1 in 4 women who get it have a stroke or liver damage and up to 60% of their babies die it's CRITICAL that I not get pregnant again too soon.

Yes, postpartum NFP can be done, but it is unreliable. I wish I could find the link again to a study I found that showed postpartum NFP has an effectiveness rate of around 75%. The study's authors wrote in their conclusion that current postpartum NFP methods are inadequate and that new ones need to be found and the researchers were with a pro-NFP group, so you can't say that had an anti-NFP agenda. Just take a look at some of the other NFP threads and see how many women have had surprise pregnancies while trying to use if after a baby - there's too many to count! It doesn't matter if the clinical effectiveness rate is 98% or whatever - if the actual use rate is 75%, YOUR chance of having a baby is 1 in 4. There is no reason to think that it can't happen to you because you'll be different and you'll use NFP correctly unlike they did, because all those other women thought the same thing too. If you look at the threads, you'll also find that many women are abstaining during the postpartum period because the risk and the stress that comes with it are just too high. Long-term abstinance is much more common and necessary than NFP promoters would want you believe.

My husband and I have only been together 5 times since February and the thought of taking the risk before we are ready to try for a second is so nerve-wracking that it takes away any enjoyment I would get out of it. NFP has been a huge strain on our marriage too, but there's no other option. And don't let anyone tell you that if NFP strains your marriage your relationship must have already been bad, that you two must have had preexisting underlying problems, that your relationship is based on selfishness, or that you're a bad Catholic because good ones feel blessed by NFP. Every thread on NFP always has posters who say that, and none of it is true and all of it is insulting.

The choice really comes down to how important it is for you not to get pregnant too soon. If the consequences of having another baby aren't too severe, it might be better to take your chances with NFP rather than have your marriage slowly rot away. But, if the odds are just too great then abstaining is the safer option. But like you said, it won't last forever!
I wish I had something more cheerful to say, but the situation just is what it is, you know?


#6

thank you for all your responses! I really do feel like we need to take classes...I'm trying to find some in our area but haven't been able to. I'll keep looking!

Ultimately if we have to continue to abstain then we will as we both are on board with NFP and know that we are doing this for a reason. We need to make sure that we can care for our child now and when she has her surgery...I can't be going into labor when she's in the hospital having surgery!

It is really frustrating to feel like I am not showing any signs of ovulation or being fertile, but still not being able to do anything out of fear that maybe I am. lol

Does anyone know how much a class costs?

Thank you for your help and prayers!


#7

[quote="kdmaney, post:6, topic:242953"]

Does anyone know how much a class costs?

[/quote]

I think the homestudy course was $180 and I doubt the class would cost much more than that. I wish we could have taken a class, but there are very few in North Carolina. I think there is only one in the whole state this year! Last year I think there were three, but they were a few hours away.


#8

[quote="kdmaney, post:6, topic:242953"]
Does anyone know how much a class costs?

[/quote]

The CCL class we took cost about $140. The cost included the class, the book, a thermometer, a year's subscription to CCL's magazine, a few CDs with NFP related talks, and a few other supporting materials.


#9

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