TMI Alert! TMI Alert! TMI Alert!
That being said....
My husband and I (sort of) use NFP (Natural Family Planning) for our family-size control method. In case you haven't heard of it, NFP is a method that uses three main variables - basal body temperature, cervical fluid and cervical position - to track a woman's fertility. Abstinence is observed through the fertile period. When used correctly, it is just as effective as the Pill, and without all the nasty side effects.
On the whole, NFP is great. No ethical concerns, no health side-effects, no wait-time for getting "off" of it, no cost, etc. For birth control, it's great.
However, I'm finding it very hard to use right now.
When we started using NFP, it was at a great time - when we'd just evicted our son from our bed, so I was sleeping through the night (they say that you need 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before taking one's temp to get accurate readings), and the overnight break from breastfeeding seemed to be enough to allow cervical fluid to return to normal - and readable - cyclical patterns.
However, at the current time, I am still co-sleeping with our baby. This means that I am NOT getting enough sleep to get good temperature readings, so I'm not even trying (I did try for one month, and my readings were all over the chart - it was unreadable). Also, my cervical fluid seems to be pretty screwy as well.
With all of that, we're pretty much playing with fire! Does anyone out there have any tips for using NFP while breastfeeding and co-sleeping?
Also, another complaint about NFP - the fact that "off limits" times are - predictably - during the time when one is most "receptive" to marital intimacy. Ahem. This makes sense, because sexual receptivity and peak fertile times are well-matched in order to assure greater chances of conception. But for birth control, it's a pain in the neck! What it means is that when one is wanting intimacy, the red flag is up, and by the time the green flag gives the go-ahead, intimacy sounds about as interesting as organizing cupboards. Or rather, less interesting, as I'm an organizational freak who enjoys organizing cupboards.
How do you NFP users deal with that issue?
One mother whose blog I read (don't ask me who, because I don't remember) made the interesting comment that she believes NFP can be harmful to marriages - probably because of the above, and also because NFP does put large limits on sexual activity between marriage partners. What with one's period and the off-limits fertile times, "abstinence time" accounts for more than half of my cycle. I think she probably referenced the Bible verse about "not denying each other unless it is for a time, for prayer, and then come together again lest Satan should tempt you." Thoughts, anyone?
I suppose we could just use a physical barrier method during the abstinence period, but that always makes me nervous - it lowers the effectiveness rate to the level of the barrier method used (which generally isn't too good) as opposed to the higher rate of NFP. But one of the reasons we started with NFP was to avoid the pain-in-the-neck nature of barrier methods! So that would be rather circular in nature.
I suppose we could throw it all to the wind and become a quiverful (no-birth-control) family, but the thought of going through hyperemesis every two years makes me want to run screaming.
If this entry feels rather round-about, know that I am very, very tired! So I should be doing something like getting ready for bed rather than typing - which I think I will do.
And again, I don't really want to malign NFP, because it really has a good thing going in many ways. I'm just perplexed by its difficulties. I would love your thoughts!