What is a "serious reason" to prevent pregnancy?


#1

Hi! I currently have a 2.5 yr old and a 1.5 yr old. DH and I have been preventing successfully since DS2 was born, and are now trying to decide when to stop preventing for a third.

DH has said he will do whatever I'm most comfortable with. I go back and forth. I feel like I want another baby, but I'm worried that it would be too soon, too overwhelming, too stressful for the older children, etc. I had a hard time with the second baby, and I want to really be able to enjoy the transition to a family of five. We are also planning a cross country move in two years, and have considered the idea of waiting until we've done that so we don't have to worry about the logistics of selling a house with a newborn or young infant in it.

So, I think it would be helpful if I had an idea of what the Church considers a "serious" reason to prevent. Is it just a health thing? Financial? I imagine emotional concerns can be serious too, right? Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


#2

[quote="rachella14, post:1, topic:234062"]
So, I think it would be helpful if I had an idea of what the Church considers a "serious" reason to prevent. Is it just a health thing? Financial? I imagine emotional concerns can be serious too, right? Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

[/quote]

The Church does not officially expand on the term "serious". I think it is for each couple to use their own judgement, in discussion together and in prayful reflection. A young mothers emotional wellbing is certainly a serious enough concern to be an important aspect of this decision.

I'm not sure I'd be concerned about the stress on you other children though (unless perhaps they have special needs). We have three children and the relationships they share are such a great blessing. The third arrived quite quick-fire, so we were worried about being overwhelmed and it being stressful to our second child, but our concerns were unfounded.


#3

[quote="underacloud, post:2, topic:234062"]
The Church does not officially expand on the term "serious". I think it is for each couple to use their own judgement, in discussion together and in prayful reflection. A young mothers emotional wellbing is certainly a serious enough concern to be an important aspect of this decision.

I'm not sure I'd be concerned about the stress on you other children though (unless perhaps they have special needs). ** We have three children and the relationships they share are such a great blessing. The third arrived quite quick-fire, so we were worried about being overwhelmed and it being stressful to our second child, but our concerns were unfounded**.

[/quote]

That is wonderful to hear, thank you!

I think that sometimes I feel a bit guilty that the first two were so close together. I love watching their relationship develop now, but I spent a great deal of my firstborn's infancy feeling totally exhausted. Now that I'm not pregnant, not nursing, totally back to normal, I'm realizing how all this energy is beneficial to them as well as me. However, I think I need to remind myself that every pregnancy and every baby is different! Plus they really are old enough to play and be on their own. Way more than my first son was when I got pregnant the second time.

It sounds silly, but I think it's just hard for such a big decision to be totally up to me. Part of me is just looking for someone or something to say "do this!"


#4

[quote="rachella14, post:1, topic:234062"]
Hi! I currently have a 2.5 yr old and a 1.5 yr old. DH and I have been preventing successfully since DS2 was born, and are now trying to decide when to stop preventing for a third.

DH has said he will do whatever I'm most comfortable with. I go back and forth. I feel like I want another baby, but I'm worried that it would be too soon, too overwhelming, too stressful for the older children, etc. I had a hard time with the second baby, and I want to really be able to enjoy the transition to a family of five. We are also planning a cross country move in two years, and have considered the idea of waiting until we've done that so we don't have to worry about the logistics of selling a house with a newborn or young infant in it.

So, I think it would be helpful if I had an idea of what the Church considers a "serious" reason to prevent. Is it just a health thing? Financial? I imagine emotional concerns can be serious too, right? Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

[/quote]

What is serious for one couple might not be serious for another. You should definitely pray about this and seek guidance from your priest or spiritual director. And talk with your spouse, too.

Also remember that fertility is not a guarantee. Since the dawn of the birth control pill, people have forgotten that women are not baby making machines who get pregnant every time they sleep with a man. Some families only have one or two children, they try to have more but the wife never gets pregnant. My mom's friend wanted (and still wants) a dozen children but God gave her four. It took a few years to have the first one, the next three came at a normal spacing, and then she just stop getting pregnant after the fourth. We need to remember to be OPEN to children, but also know they are not a guarantee. Each child is a blessing and we should allow for a child to be brought into the world, but also know that God might not want us to have more children.


#5

[quote="rachella14, post:1, topic:234062"]
What is a "serious reason" to prevent pregnancy?

[/quote]

Perhaps not being married yet? [/smartaleck]

:rolleyes:


#6

As others have already said, there is no clear cut list of reasons...unfortunately lol!

Responsible parenthood is most certainly a serious reason and child-spacing is as well. If you feel that it would be more beneficial to yourself and your existing children to space them out a bit more then I think that is fine. Of course you should definitely talk to your priest if you feel uncertain.

I have been pregnant 6 times and have 3 living children to show for it (thank God for them!). We are currently postponing for several serious (at least for us) reasons. Financial, emotional and mental well-being, and finally, responsible parenting of special needs children (our DS and older DD). We recently found out that our older DD has a chromosomal abnormality that is quite possible genetic/inherited. So DH and I were tested for this. If it turns out that I or he are a carrier for this disorder then I think we are more than likely NOT going to TTC anymore as this particular condition can be pretty severe (in DD's case it appears to be more mild thankfully!). I am saddened by that thought. However, having special needs kids is draining and I want to focus on helping them and getting them the services and help that they need (some of it can be pricey.)


#7

[quote="Ponyguy, post:5, topic:234062"]
Perhaps not being married yet? [/smartaleck]

:rolleyes:

[/quote]

That would be a reason to prevent physical contact at all! not just pregnancy!

:D


#8

It's vague on purpose! There really isn't a need to try to develop a rigid list of "officially serious" reasons, even if it could be done (which it can't because there are too many factors involved).

I say this from experience having lived as a married catholic for 11+ years now. When you THINK you have a serious reason and use NFP to avoid conception, God has built a dandy little reality check into you in the form of the desire that healthy married couples have for one another. If your reason is frivolous, you are faithful to catholic sexual teaching and have some sort of prayer life (including the sacraments).... NONserious reasons will reveal themselves soon enough. Don't fret.


#9

Thank you all so much for your replies! I think I need to learn to trust myself a little more instead of relying on lists of rules :)

I love the advice that the serious sins will work themselves out from the frivolous ones with NFP. So true!


#10

[quote="rachella14, post:9, topic:234062"]
Thank you all so much for your replies! I think I need to learn to trust myself a little more instead of relying on lists of rules :)

I love the advice that the serious sins will work themselves out from the frivolous ones with NFP. So true!

[/quote]

I think you mean "serious reasons" not serious sins in that last sentence!


#11

a serious reason is when you and your husband, using your best prudential judgment including medical advice if warranted, or advice on other relevant life situations, deem it advisable to delay pregnancy for a while, or even in some cases, until after menopause. Serious reason means serious reason, not frivolous, selfish or capricious. There are lots of good reasons to space pregnancies, physical and mental health of the mother and viability of the next pregnancy being excellent ones.


#12

Just remember, that while there certainly are serious reasons to avoid pregnancy, sometimes when people put off the blessing of children until a later time things don't always go as planned either. There are no guarantees that just because you conceived the first two fairly easily (I assume) that 2 or 3 years down the road it might still be the same. Women's fertility changes, even men's sperm counts etc. can suddenly change.

I'm not saying that that is something that should over ride a truly serious reason to use NFP, but it is certainly something that a couple should think about when it comes to their desire to have more children.

Remember a baby takes 9 months to make. So your two will be nearly 3.5 and 2.5 even if you got pregnant in the next few months by the time baby would arrive.

I think when we have too think too hard as to whether something is a serious reason or not, it's probably not.

Best wishes.


#13

[quote="rachella14, post:9, topic:234062"]
Thank you all so much for your replies! I think I need to learn to trust myself a little more instead of relying on lists of rules :)

[/quote]

It's not "trusting ourselves" so much as "trusting God" is the real problem. And I'll tell you, lack of full faith and trust in God is something I don't have yet. It's hard, but it's right.

As I tell most trying to understand this... don't come to this forum for such advice, go directly to God. Says so somewhere in the CCC.


#14

[quote="newbetx, post:13, topic:234062"]
It's not "trusting ourselves" so much as "trusting God" is the real problem. And I'll tell you, lack of full faith and trust in God is something I don't have yet. It's hard, but it's right.

As I tell most trying to understand this... don't come to this forum for such advice, go directly to God. Says so somewhere in the CCC.

[/quote]

Yes, you are right and it's good to remind myself I have to frame it that way. One thing I have a hard time with though, is figuring out when it is God saying "do this," and when it is just me. This is something I've struggled with for awhile, and I think it's the root of my indecisiveness about issues like these! If only there was a preapproved list to tell me exactly what God says to do in every situation, but it doesn't work like that ;)

Also, manualman, you are right about my typo. Thank you! I hope no one was confused by that :)


#15

[quote="rachella14, post:14, topic:234062"]
If only there was a preapproved list to tell me exactly what God says to do in every situation, but it doesn't work like that ;)

[/quote]

That sure would be a lot easier! Which is also why there isn't one. God's not interested in robotic slaves who merely follow rules, he desires loving children who have discovered the complete meaning of love. That's the ultimate endpoint of ALL legitimate rules. They all push us towards understanding and embracing love as God designed it.


#16

[quote="rachella14, post:14, topic:234062"]
Yes, you are right and it's good to remind myself I have to frame it that way. One thing I have a hard time with though, is figuring out when it is God saying "do this," and when it is just me. This is something I've struggled with for awhile, and I think it's the root of my indecisiveness about issues like these! If only there was a preapproved list to tell me exactly what God says to do in every situation, but it doesn't work like that ;)

[/quote]

So many of us these days want a list. It's easier. It's more difficult to "think for yourself" vs. "here's what you should think."

This is a basic "trust" issue. As with all relationships, trust begins with listening... Learning to listen can take lots of time. I struggle greatly with this. It's what has led me to understand just what ADD can do to people. I suggest a listen to Matthew Kelly's "Ten minutes a day" to frame the need to develop a new habit.


#17

[quote="rachella14, post:14, topic:234062"]
If only there was a preapproved list to tell me exactly what God says to do in every situation, but it doesn't work like that ;)

[/quote]

This would make everything so much easier. There would be no questioning on anything, life would be simple. However, I don't think God wants us to be able to just blindly follow rules. I think he wants us to discern what we should be doing and think about our actions.


#18

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.