Donnie and Mei are the proud parents of nearly five-month-old, Jonathan. Getting to this point saw them evaluate how they were living, explore options and call on their faith.
This week is Natural Fertility Awareness Week and Donnie shares his experience and thoughts on natural family planning in the context of living holistically.
We started living our married vocation several years ago, using natural family planning (NFP) for three years until we were ready to start our own family. We were living with Mei’s parents and had decided we wanted to wait until we were in our own home before having children.
We had always been interested in health and wellbeing. We ate pretty well and went to the gym. Mei and I had taken up ‘clean eating’ diets in the past, such as vegetarianism, in order to be as whole and as healthy as possible. Eating well meant that we had more clarity in the day. It meant that our energy and focus increased, giving us opportunity to be more present, whether that meant being more empathetic with others, intentional with our actions or mindful of the movement of God’s Spirit during the day.
It was when we were ready to start our family that we realised that we both had health issues that needed addressing.
Keeping up NFP, we started to really look at our lifestyles with the help of a naturopath.
The naturopath looked at our bodies as whole systems. That alongside our natural family planning consultations awakened in us a realisation of the interconnectedness between natural human cycles, nutrition, lifestyle, wellbeing and the natural world.
We found how important the gut was to our wellbeing and that its importance had long been recognised by other cultures such as the Jewish culture which recognises the interconnection between ‘headspace’, ‘heartspace’, and ‘gutspace’.
At the same time, like diets focused around consuming natural and organic foods, NFP offered understanding of how our bodies naturally work. Knowing more, increased our attentiveness to the natural processes that were going on in our bodies.
We could use this information holistically. For example, charting of our temperatures helped us be more attentive to other natural aspects of our bodies that we observed – how our eating and how our lifestyle practices were part of a bigger picture for fullness of life.
I can see others respecting natural approaches too. I think there is definitely a growing appreciation of the impact one part of our lives can have on the world as a whole. What we eat, for example can contribute to our environmental footprint.
And by extension of that, the condition of someone’s natural environment can play an important factor in someone’s quality of life, including their capacity to fall pregnant.
The more responsible we are with our level of environmental impact, the more we can ensure that others have access to essential needs that are adversely affected by pollution, global warming or environmental degradation.
I can see this explained in Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the need to care for our common home. How we live in one country has implications for the poor in other countries, and our environment as a whole. There is a need to get back to seeing the bigger picture of everything we consume and what we do.
This attitudinal change toward ecological consciousness can be encouraged when ‘natural living’ can be conversationally shared through topics like healthy eating, wellbeing, exercise and the natural processes that our bodies go through in the fertility journey.
Natural Family Planning can play a part in the wider conversation of awareness of natural processes, moving conversations more toward the dignifying of the human person and the natural world – a call for consciousness and conversion which has increasingly been emphasised by Pope Francis’ widening scope of mission and Christian living.
Marriage and Family in the Diocese of Parramatta is holding two free online seminars on fertility on Tuesday 7 and 14 September at 7.30pm as part of the HOME Ground events program. It will focus on the Sympto-Thermal Method of natural family planning. To register and receive a Zoom link, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0400 427 605.
The Diocese of Parramatta is a member of the Australian Council of Natural Family Planning.