To married Catholics who have never used contraception or NFP..?

I was talking to a friend who is Catholic and I gather that she is scared about when she gets married that we are not to use contraception. I know in our generation we are brought up to believe if you don’t use contraception you’ll end up having 17 children. I know we are not all that fertile and when I look around at Mass it doesn’t seem to be there are huge families like that. Maybe 5 or so kids.

So my question is to the married Catholics here how many children have you had (those that have never used contraception or NFP) i just want to see statistically that we won’t all end up having 17 kids. But if you do have 17 then still post of course :slight_smile:


To my knowledge my parents did not use ABC or NFP. The had 2 kids about 8 years apart.

My grandmother and grandfather probably did not use NFP or ABC they had 4 kids, 2 yrs apart each.

One of my Grandfather’s sisters had 17 children. Not all of them survived past infancy though.

4 children but 1 died before she was born so only 3 living children. We’ve been married 13 years. I do full term breastfeeding and my husband is in the military so he’s been gone a few times. We were hoping for more children by now and praying we will be blessed with more!

I got married in my early 20s, have been married 15 years, and have three children (there was also a recent miscarriage). Our first child is special needs and we have a substantial gap between our second and third children (7 years). I think my Catholic peers tend to have somewhere between 4-7 children.

I think different people are going to have different results with NFP, due to differences in fertility, health, patience, level of motivation, age, level of science literacy, etc. Based on what I read here, I think the trickiest times are probably breastfeeding and perimenopause, as one is working with much less information. Ironically, the more fertile one is, the easier it is to do NFP.

I would certainly caution any newbie to avoid the following approach: “put things in God’s hands” and then freaking out when health problems or other serious reasons arise and it looks like the couple is facing either prolonged total abstinence or danger to life and there’s been no track record of successful spacing with NFP. I strongly advise making some allowance for the unforeseen. For instance, if you have already had two c-sections and it looks like further deliveries will also be c-sections, I would argue that that is a serious reason to space out further pregnancies. I know that some women manage to have a lot of c-sections, but it seems wisest to me to not presume on being able to safely have half a dozen. Likewise, there are a number of disabilities that will not be immediately obvious to new parents and it is actually not uncommon to wind up with multiple special needs children in a good-sized family. I would not encourage anybody to bet on every one of their children being at least physically and mentally average.

There’s a parable in the gospels where Jesus says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’” There are occasionally sad cases, for instance the Torodes, the Protestant and then Orthodox couple that wrote The Open Embrace and eventually divorced, having had four kids.

Oh, I have to mention that of course some couples are infertile or barely fertile, so 17 biological children are totally out of the question.

Although I’m not married, I don’t have a plan or anything on how many children I would like and I don’t think there is anything wrong with leaving that to God, is it not?
I’m a convert from a tiny, divorced family with only one other older sibling who doesn’t plan to have kids so I would like to have quite a few. I don’t want my children being as lonely as I was growing up, if possible.

I know my mother and grandmother has fertility problems though due to things like uterine fibroids and cysts and that is hereditary so I may not be that fertile anyway.

But I would like to prove that Catholics don’t all end up having 10+ kids to my friend.

Yes, you are right. Level of motivation is a big part.

Although I’m not married, I don’t have a plan or anything on how many children I would like and I don’t think there is anything wrong with leaving that to God, is it not?

Nope. My Dh and I do things this way- we have two now, and really enjoy it- so let’s have another! Now, we’ll see what 3 is like, and go for four if health/circumstance/etc allow for us to do so.

Based on my own observations, I suspect that very few couples actually take that approach. Within my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances, I get the impression that most utilize either NFP or ABC. As I look around our parish, the largest families I see are three or four kids.

“Although I’m not married, I don’t have a plan or anything on how many children I would like and I don’t think there is anything wrong with leaving that to God, is it not?”

If your health and your kids’ health and your patience and your marriage hold up, no. Go crazy. It just seems to happen fairly often that people start out wanting to leave it to God, and then renege on the deal.

I think there may also be a logical problem here with talk of leaving it to God. The problem is that our cooperation is involved in the process–God isn’t sending storks with babies. For the NFP-savvy couple, there may be such a thing as what-the-heck babies, but outside of the grey areas, one often has a pretty good idea where one stands fertility-wise, even when not charting. There are all sorts of fertility signs that one notices even without making the effort.

Tell your friend to go research this. The height of Catholic family size was 4.25 children per family, and this was in the 1950s, after a groundswell of young women marrying right out of high school. Since a woman’s fertility begins to drop by age 25, a couple that wants a family of more than four or five had better be sure to marry young! I know of families of eight and ten and twelve, but they had mothers who married at 18 or 19 and started having children immediately and often. According to the CDC, over 44 percent of couples seeking fertility treatments are under 35 (which usually means they have tried to achieve pregnancy for at least a year, but were unable to conceive.)

Part of this also has to do with chronic lack of sufficient sleep, which a physician I know once told me was probably the most prevalent form of “natural family planning”, practiced by everyone from Catholics to atheists! If you want a big family, it is probably better to get rid of cable TV! :smiley:

We are a Catholic family who does not use ABC or NFP. We have been open to children our whole marriage (4+ years). We have one wonderful son (17 months). We have had three miscarriages, and were told our biological chance of having another rounds to 0 %. Our son is a miraculous child, as the doctor told us 2 years ago that our only chance was adoption. God, however, is the Divine Physician, and He is in charge.

While we should have 10-15 more years of fertility, biology says we are done. We truly hope for another miracle to give our son a sibling (or three)!! If not, we will consider the adoption route.

My suggestion for the original poster is “Put it all in God’s hands”, pray, hope, and be thankful for every blessing he gives you. If we would have waited until the perfect time, our window would have been closed.

One other tidbit for the general reading public: Refrain from judging the one-child couple in your church … they may want 10 more, but God has other plans!!

In Him, through Her,


I would like to add a different perspective. My neighbors, who were married over sixty years, had 8 children. What I saw, when they were in their eighties, was that their adult children and grandchildren were often calling, coming over, and doing things like cutting grass, bringing food, playing cards, etc. It was a treat to spend an hour or so and see how connected family was with them. Beautiful. To be envied. Think of that, that one day you’ll be retired and children and grandchildren will be a blessing.

My parents, who had 2 kids and got sterilized, only had me around in their difficult years with cancer. Just me. My brother occupied himself with other things. My neighbor, who recently died at home from age and cancer, was able to stay at home until the end, with support from family, and his bedroom was full of people reciting the rosary in his last hours. Gives me tears to think of it. A family of faith is a beautiful gift.

This is beautiful.

I have a Friend who is 36/37 and is about to have her 7th. Not sure if they ever tried NFP, but I would guess not. She also homeschools them all. They don’t mess around :slight_smile:

Hi. I just wanted to answer as a married couple who has never used ABC or NFP. We have been married almost 5 years and have an almost 3 year old and a 9 month old. It took over a year to conceive the first one (God’s timing). I breastfeed past one year and start solids later, around 9 months, so my fertility doesn’t return for over a year, or at least this has been the case so far. Now that I will be 30 in a few months, I expect my fertility to even further decrease, so I am guessing maybe we will end up with 5-ish. I would love more, but at the same time I still feel incredibly blessed even with just my two.

Every woman is different, but I strongly believe that if you don’t marry until your mid twenties and breastfeed exclusively for longer (which is healthier for the baby anyway) the average woman will not have 17 kids. From what I can tell, the “baby every year” thing only started when moms started using formula in the 50s and 60s. Though I do know some women who conceive 2 months post-partum while breastfeeding on a regular basis, most women don’t.

My wife and I have never used ABC or NFP. We married when I was 21 and she was 20. We have eight children now and have been married for 14 years. My wife had three mis-carraiges in a row at one point. To the poster who have three lost babies, don’t give up. The next five children are all happy and healthy. DO pay to have the cariotyping done though if you have any more lost babies. If will put to rest what is the cause. Ours was trisomy 18, which is a genetic disorder that prevents the child from developing properly. There is NOTHING that we could have done to cause this.

To the poster who looks around at Mass and sees smaller families, please try finding a parish where the EF is said. In every one that I have been to in many different cities you will see larger families of 8-12 children depending on the age of the children. The average number of children at our parish is 9 children. Some have more some less. Depends on the family. I KNOW at least 50% of the families do not use ANY birth control at all. Most of those families have on average 8-10 children before the wife reaches menopause.

My wife’s grandmother had 17 children and several lost babies. My grandmother had 7 children and never used any birth control. So the number of children you will have can really vary based on biology. If you want to go the no ABC and no NFP route, know that there are many of out there who choose this option and have no regrets. Try not to listen to all of the nay-sayers who want to make you doubt your decision. Love your spouse, trust in God and be happy with your family!

Well, I basically never used it.

In my first marriage I never used it, but my wife was on the pill for legitimate medical reasons (blood loss to the point that she would faint, and ended up in the emergency room a few times). She never went off, so needless to say, we never had kids.

In my second marriage, we never used any contraception. We did use NFP, but for the purpose of having children. I didn’t happen likely due to her being at an age for woman were chances for pregnancy start to go way down. It didn’t stop us though; we just went ahead and adopted several beautiful Chinese girls. :slight_smile:

I married at 22 and am now 43 and blessed with 10 kids. I challenge others to try it! :wink: Fertility of the kind that I have been blessed with is a rare gift. I thank God that not only do I have it, but he gave me the grace to be open to His gift.

My mother married at 22 (same age) and did not use birth control. She did not have any kids until 5 years into their marriage and then was only able to have 4 kids in all.

Every woman and man will be different. The one factor that will be the same in each marriage is God. Now, if only we could all respond to God’s will in our lives things would be sooo much easier! I speak mostly for myself as I need to see God’s will for my life every day, and always struggle to put His will before my own. :o

Now FatherOfThirteen :smiley:

In our first three years of marriage we were not christians, we still had our first three exactly 1 year apart (April 7th, 18th & 30th).

After the birth of our third child the Lord came into our life. Due to ignorance we used “interuptus” for two years. Then one day my wife read this in scripture " Gen 38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and he slew him also. "

At that point, we became totaly open to life. No interuptus, artificial whatever. Although we were protestant (Plymouth Brethren) we discovered catholic theology, although at a very primitive level. 12 years later (very long story) we converted to the Catholic Church. When we came in, we had 8 children by that time. Since being catholic, we are now at 13, with two grandbabys. With that said, I would like to point out that we have never “tried” to have more, nor have we "tried’ not to have more. We have enjoyed the marital act as God intended it to be and have accepted every child as a gift from the Lord himself.

The first three, My oldest is married with the two kids, next my oldest daughter is a Sister in the Servants of the Lord and Our Lady of Matara (she’s with the Pope at world youth day now!), my next son, Jonathan David is a seminarian. The next daughter just graduated high school, everyone else, still at home.
Wouldn’t have it any other way.
God Bless,

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