Fertility is an essential part of our humanity, and often a topic people hold close to their chest. But as Catherine Bourne, educator of Natural Fertility in the Diocese of Parramatta discovered recently, couples do want to talk about it.
As part of Natural Fertility Awareness Week this week, the Diocese of Parramatta is raising awareness and conversation around natural family planning (NFP). The method focuses on the body’s naturally occurring fertile and infertile times of the month. Couples can plan their families without the use of contraceptives.
Catherine observes how close couples following natural family planning methods become. “Usually family planning is the responsibility of the woman in the relationship,” she says.
“With natural family planning, couples have conversations daily. They both take responsibility for being aware of the woman’s cycle and most fertile and infertile times. It creates a deeper connection with themselves both individually and as a couple,” says Catherine.
Couples in the program agree. “Natural family planning positives include better connection and communication,” reports Martin, who with wife Amy, have been using natural family planning for three years. “We felt it brought us closer together and made planning for our first child quite easy.”
Jono, who is married to Selina says, “Natural family planning allows my wife to better understand her body and her menstrual cycle. It allows me as the husband to be more involved in our decision-making process about abstinence. It provides us with a greater appreciation of my wife’s fertility which will be useful for when we decide to start trying to fall pregnant.”
Natural family planning aligns with those who take a holistic view of their health. Donnie, who, along with his wife Mei, found a better diet gives them energy and clarity to take on the demands of each day. “Natural family planning represents a growing awareness of how interconnected our wellbeing is to what we consume,” he says. “It was part of our journey of being mindful of our wellbeing.”
Catherine’s role is to provide instruction and support to couples, she meets with them frequently especially during their learning phase. She has found that couples value being able to speak to other couples as well.
She ran a trial online support and discussion group earlier this month. Extending the invitation, she wasn’t sure how many people would attend. With seven couples turning up, she realised the value of creating a space for sharing.
Donnie and his wife Mei, participated in the trial discussion. “Having connections with a group who are on a similar journey was awesome,” he says. “We loved the session and how casually conversational it was.”
Jono admits that at times, natural family planning takes some work. “We needed to keep constant communication, spend quality time in physical non-sexual contact, and maintain a sense of humour,” he says.
He also called on his faith, “We resigned ourselves to prayer and trust in God to assist us with our struggles,” he recalls.
Donnie and Mei, who now have a beautiful baby boy, at one point were unsure whether they would be able to fall pregnant. “We trusted the process of the unknown,” he says.
All couples contacted for comment highly recommend natural family planning.
“No matter what religious background or relationship stage, there is so much knowledge and understanding to be gained by learning about NFP,” says Jono. “Not only would it assist many couples in confidently avoiding pregnancy without the use of harmful contraceptive methods, but it would also assist couples with identifying the best chances of naturally conceiving.”
Catherine 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 email@example.com or call 0400 427 605.
The Diocese of Parramatta is a member of the Australian Council of Natural Family Planning.