NFP: Natural Parenting Can Start Before Conception

Some might label my parenting style as “green” or “crunchy,” but all labels aside, I simply seek to be a good steward of the earth’s resources and keep my kids safe from toxins and as healthy as possible.

What I do, I want to do naturally.

For those who are proponents of unmedicated childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, and wooden toys, it only makes sense that natural parenting would begin before conception.

There are plenty of opportunities for considering parenting before the first pink plus sign.
• Many women choose pre-conception diets to detoxify and prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy.
• Engaged couples are often encouraged to discuss what they think their parenting will look like when the time comes.

Wouldn’t you want your reproductive system to receive the same natural care you give your nutrition and your children’s health?

Oral contraception is the only drug approved to treat a healthy condition as a disease and rewire a normally working system so that it malfunctions. The Pill’s effectiveness lies in ultimately stopping your reproductive system from performing properly, thus preventing pregnancy.

For those who want to be natural parents, who don’t give their children over-the-counter medications or antibiotics when we can avoid them, it is a natural extension of our parenting philosophy to keep our children’s first home – the womb – chemical free.

It’s organic parenting at its finest.

To Conceive or Not to Conceive, Naturally

Everyone knows that sex can result in pregnancy, and each couple must make their own decision about whether they want to achieve or avoid pregnancy at a given time.  If children just aren’t in your short-term plan, you have some options to prevent or avoid pregnancy, and each impacts the earth and your health in various ways.

Option Impact on Earth Impact on Body
Oral Contraceptives Increased estrogen in water supply (that cannot be filtered out), plastic waste from packaging, “feminized” and sterile fish – possible serious animal kingdom impact Irritability, decreased sex drive, increased risk of many diseases, especially breast cancer, infertility/trouble getting pregnant later, losing already fertilized eggs
Condoms, other barrier methods Plastic waste never breaks down, spermicidal pollution Invasive chemicals and materials – what might be leaching from these items?
Injected Hormonal Contraceptive Increased hormones in water supply, hazardous medical waste Similar to oral
Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Zero Zero negative impact; see positives below

When my husband and I got married, there was never any question about our choice of birth control. I was “green” enough to know that I never wanted to put drugs in my body when I didn’t need them, and my husband didn’t want to ask me to deal with all the possible side effects of oral contraception.

Our parenting began when we used to pray for our possible future children as we took evening walks as freshmen in college.  Long before we even thought about registering for a baby sling, our parenting was “natural” as we made the choice each month whether to seek or avoid a pregnancy and act accordingly, without the help of drugs or products.  I had never purchased organic spinach, but I was keeping my uninhabited womb as organic as possible with natural family planning.

What is Natural Family Planning?

Natural Family Planning, or Fertility Awareness, is the process of observing a woman’s naturally occurring physical cues to fertility, including basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and other symptoms.  Fertilization can only occur during a 24-hour stage each cycle, and fertility is easy to determine for a few days on either side of that window.

Charts help a couple keep track of the woman’s fertile and infertile stages, and they can decide whether or not to be intimate based on their desire for a child (or not) at the time.  Natural Family Planning is not the rhythm or calendar method.

Benefits of Natural Family Planning

Beyond simply avoiding the harmful physical side effects of artificial contraception, the advantages of Natural Family Planning are many:

For the Woman:

Her body is respected and preserved from chemicals, and she can become aware of health issues related to her fertility, including stress-induced illnesses and more.  The decision to avoid pregnancy is completely and immediately reversible.  Financial cost = $0.

For the Environment:

There are no chemicals, no packaging waste, and no trips to the doctor for injections or prescriptions.  Breastfeeding infertility, often encouraged in natural family planning, even results in fewer feminine products entering the landfills and sewage systems. Contrast this with oral contraceptives, which have caused an increase in estrogen in our water supply that is very troubling.  Estrogen (and other synthetic hormones) cannot be filtered out of drinking water, so children and adults alike who drink city water are getting greater exposure to these female hormones.

With 100 million women worldwide using oral contraceptives, this risk is no small potatoes.

For the Marriage:

Longevity is the major benefit: less than 5% of NFP users divorce, compared to 50% in the rest of the (American) population.  This is likely a result of NFP’s other marital benefits:

  • increased communication (discussing “child or no child” every month)
  • deep respect for one another and each one’s life-giving abilities
  • cycles of “courtship” and “honeymoon” keep the intimacy fresh, as couples abstain during the fertile period (Yes, when choosing to avoid, it’s like a honeymoon when the fertile phase is over!)
  • the self-discipline practiced through intermittent abstinence increases both spouses’ self-control in other aspects of life
  • decreased fear of unwanted pregnancy – you know immediately if you are taking a “risk” or not, unlike the failure rate of oral contraceptives

Photo by Mike Baird

Information on Natural Family Planning

I cannot say enough good things about NFP.  If you truly want an organic, natural home, consider learning about how your body can tell you when you are fertile and when you are not. There are a few different methods, all 99% or more effective at achieving the desired result:

This may be a touchy subject for comments.  I do encourage discussion and assume everyone will be respectful with their opinions.  I welcome any questions for me as an NFP user.

I am indebted to Colleen Martin of Martin Family Moments for her connection between NFP and “going organic”.

Do you have a success story about natural, organic conception that you’re willing to share?

Join the Conversation
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KatieK

Katie Kimball is a mother of three from Michigan who spends a ton of time in the kitchen making real food with whole ingredients, and then blogs about her successes and failures at Kitchen Stewardship.

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