Natural Fertility Services is an educational service located at the Diocesan Ministry Centre Blacktown within the Diocese of Parramatta. The Coordinator, Catherine Bourne, provides the Fertility Awareness and Family Planning Decisions component at the Diocesan Pre Marriage Courses and educates couples wishing to learn about Natural Family Planning (NFP) on a one-to-one basis. Germaine Gil, the Family Life Educator, also presents sessions to pre-marriage couples.
Catherine is fun and personable, with couples regularly describing their enjoyment of her eye-opening fertility sessions.
While most people have experienced school-based education about sexual development, that education details the changes individuals go through during puberty. Married couples benefit from knowing about the bigger picture of their combined fertility and just what their bodies are capable of, Catherine said.
This lets engaged and married couples take their knowledge and skills to the next level. NFP is very helpful for trying to conceive a child or to space births.
Natural Family Planning sessions are full of fascinating facts.
Did you know that an egg can only survive for 12 – 24 hours after being released from the ovary? And that sperm can survive for up to five days? Did you know 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility? That every woman’s cycle is different? Did you know many women have experienced a miscarriage, most without even knowing they’re pregnant?
In the sessions with Catherine, this knowledge translates into action with practice of the Sympto-Thermal Method charting of a woman’s cycle. Couples wishing to learn the Billings Ovulation Method® (BOM) are seen by Margaret Coakley.
Modern methods of NFP are based on the fact that each woman’s cycle is different, couples learn to identify when they are fertile and infertile during their cycles, Catherine said.
In the early days of NFP “The Rhythm or Calendar Method assumed everyone would ovulate on day 14, people said ‘this doesn’t work for us’ and it didn’t work,” she said.
The three main modern methods of Natural Family Planning today are the Billings Ovulation Method®, The Sympto-Thermal Method and the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System, which are most helpful in different contexts.
Breastfeeding mothers are often interested in learning about the natural process of their fertility returning. It is delayed when breastfeeding but returns quickly when bottle-feeding.
Artificial contraception, which prevents the female body from going through its natural cycle, also raises concerns regarding powerful hormones in breast milk. So NFP is a gift to mum and baby, it’s absolutely natural!
“Ovulation is such a healthy thing for women. It’s a sign of good health to have a regular cycle, abnormalities in a cycle can indicate diseases and other health problems before a woman is aware of them” Catherine said.
The pill inhibits ovulation, thins the lining of the uterus (an embryo can’t implant in a thin lining) and also thickens mucus, which inhibits the movement of sperm, preventing them from reaching the egg.
“Women on hormonal contraception are not aware of cervical mucus because their bodies are not producing it!” It has a life-giving function and all women should be aware of it. “It’s so empowering to know about your own biology,” Catherine said.
For more information on Natural Family Planning, contact Natural Fertility Services of the Diocese of Parramatta.