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In the last couple of months, I’ve menstruated twice since Baby Boy’s birth. This last time seemed much more menstrual like. Since I’m still breastfeeding, there’s a possibility this is not yet a regular thing. Meanwhile though, it does signal for Hun and I to start paying more attention if we don’t want to get pregnant again yet (which we don’t).
I won’t be taking any birth control, nor will we use any other form of contraception (i.e. male or female condoms, our, etc.). What we will be doing is considered Natural Family Planning.
Contrary to some opinions, this method of family planning isn’t restricted to religion. There are many couples who choose to listen to the woman’s body in order to plan for pregnancy.
There are 4 basic types, I know of:
1. Calendar Rhythm Method – using last 12 months of cycles, a range is calculated for ovulation (18 minus shortest cycle and 11 minus longest cycle)
2. Basal Body Temperature Method – take temperature every day (usually morning) to determine drop in temperature, thus ovulation
3. Mucous Inspection Method – carefully observe cervical mucous changes throughout the cycle
4. Symptothermal Method – combination of above methods, plus awareness of other bodily changes surrounding ovulation
In religious circles, there’s the Creighton, Billings, and Couple to Couple League methods. Each of these are really a combination of the above 5 methods, if you ask me.
Either way, we will be doing some combination of Mucous Inspection, Calendar Rhythm, and Symptothermal Methods. Basically, all it entails is that I track my body’s signals and changes throughout my entire cycle, plus keep an eye on the calendar for clues.
You can create your own chart, if you want. I haven’t. I simply mark the days of the beginning of my cycle (menstruation) and then count from that point. Since I don’t have 12 months of post-pregnancy cycles to use, there will be some level of guesstimating involved. Previously, I had an average of 31 day cycles. This put me ovulating between 10-20 days into my cycle each month. In going off those numbers, as of this writing, I have another week in this window.
In addition, I’ll keep an eye out for mucous changes and will periodically check the location/placement of my cervix. I actually should check it every day for a while, as the cervix changes after pregnancy, but in being realistic, I know I’ll forget (as I’ve already done this month) and there’s no need for me to add the pressure of another task.
There are also services you can sign up for, like Countdown to Pregnancy. I actually used this one when we were trying for Baby Boy. I’m opting not to use it right now because
a) We’re not trying to get pregnant right now.
b) I don’t want to remember one more thing right now.
c) I don’t want to get caught up in the community of it all just yet.
Besides, as I said, we’re still breastfeeding pretty strongly. Interestingly enough, recently Hun said to me he’s surprised Baby Boy is still as interested as he is in nursing. This makes sense from Hun’s vantage point. Baby Boy does eat quite a many foods and a good amount every day, plus he also will drink some water or “juice” (herbal tea or stevia-sweetened lemonade) at home. What Hun doesn’t see though is the number of times Baby Boy asks for milk (“na na”) throughout the day for any or no reason at all.
Nonetheless, my cycle returning, even if not yet ‘regular’, is a huge indication my body’s preparing itself to potentially grow another child. Having said that, tracking my body’s cues through each cycle, as well as the pattern of menstruating, frequency of menstruation, and other cues of ovulation are important in order to attempt to delay pregnancy a bit longer.
Previously, Hun and I’d discussed waiting until Baby Boy was about 18 months old before thinking of trying again. So far, I’m still ok with this. There are definitely some additional things I’d like to do beforehand, specifically increase my body’s magnesium stores, as well as my essential fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. Doing these things have shown to aid in a significant reduction in common pregnancy discomforts, especially the first trimester.
Additionally, I’d like that we were moved into a new place with better surroundings where we’re more comfortable and have the space to grow, than where we are. At the same time, it’d be great to have that place in order, but I’m not banking on that happening because I know it’ll take quite awhile. Then again, if I’m being really honest (which I am), I’m not entirely sure if I’m “ready” to get pregnant again. Pregnancy with Baby Boy took a mental toll on me, though there were other factors involved so I’m a bit wary of going through all that again. Things are different now, yet I’m afraid of what I don’t know (which is an entirely separate issue of mine). So, here’s to us attempting to stave off pregnancy for now!
What has your experience been in the family planning department? Have you ever tried natural family planning methods?