Top 10 Tips for Getting Started with NFP
Updated: Jan 25, 2019
Getting started with Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be overwhelming, confusing and even a little scary. And let's be honest - most of the people we know aren’t NFP-ers, so it can be difficult to know where to go for help.
Welcome to You, Me and NFP! One of the reasons we started this organization was to accompany people on their NFP journeys.
You are not alone. And we are all here to help each other.
If you’ve made the decision to practice NFP - or if you’re thinking about it - we've compiled a list of the top 10 tips for getting started.
1. Understand What NFP Is - and What it Isn’t
Before you get started with NFP, it’s important to understand that it’s not a form of contraception. NFP is a family planning approach that gives us the incredible knowledge about our combined fertility as men and women. It empowers spouses to love each other fully and with confidence, rather than putting unnecessary barriers between them.
If after prayerful discernment, a couple decides the time is not right for a child, NFP can be used to avoid pregnancy.
The other exciting fact about NFP is that it can help couples achieve pregnancy. Because couples who practice NFP are aware of their naturally infertile and fertile times, NFP is known
to facilitate couples on their journey to achieve and maintain pregnancy when they may have had difficulty previously.
2. Research Different Methods
There is more than one method of NFP. Take the time to research different methods and decide which one is the best fit for you at this season of your life.
For example, some methods use fertility monitors to detect ovulation. Couples often feel more confidence with the use of this technology but there is an ongoing financial cost that should be considered. Other methods simply help you interpret cues from your body to detect ovulation and have no ongoing cost. It’s important to consider different methods to decide which is the best fit for you - one size does not fit all.
You, Me and NFP plans to provide more information on multiple methods of NFP in the future, but for now here are a few great resources to help get you started:
3. Include Your Husband with Method Selection
You married your husband, not your NFP method. We suggest sitting down and talking about expectations, comfort level with the “sticky” details and long-term wishes before looking at methods. One of the beautiful benefits of NFP is better communication with your spouse - and that should start at the beginning of your NFP journey together.
4. Find an Instructor
Once you’ve decided on which NFP method is right for you, find an instructor. They will help you navigate things so much easier and will give you greater confidence in NFP. Plus, effectiveness improves with appropriate instruction compared to going it alone. The resources we provided above in Tip #2 can help you identify the right instructor based on which method you choose.
5. Be Willing to Change Methods
If a method isn’t giving you confidence in the first six cycles of charting, and you can’t clearly distinguish your fertile and infertile days, seek help. Don’t forget to reach out to your instructor. They are there for you.
If in the end you are still lacking confidence consider switching to another method and seeing how a different method could benefit you in your situation. In other words, don’t assume that you’re the one who is not doing it right. Some methods are better than others for certain people at certain times in their life. Six cycles should be enough of a trial period. Longer than that and you’ll just get frustrated. Remember, one size does not fit all.
6. Start Charting - Even if You’re Not Married
Medical professionals are starting to recognize a woman’s cycle as a vital sign. Tracking fertility indicators provides a window into the health of a woman. So not only is it a smart decision for your health, but it can also give you more data (i.e. more confidence) in your cycle once you do enter marriage.
7. Keep Your Chart in the Bathroom
This is a practical tip, but if you’re a paper charter, make sure you keep your chart in the bathroom. Otherwise, you’re likely to forget to write anything down for the cycle and will try to fill it out by memory...which may possibly skew your data.
8. Beware of Apps
Don’t get us wrong, apps are great as a charting tool, but an app is not an NFP method in and of itself. Don’t be fooled by the apps out there. If you’re just adding the start and end date of your cycle, you are not practicing NFP. If you want to use an app, just make sure you are still practicing a sound method of NFP in addition to tracking your cycle in the app.
9. Understand that Having Multiple Children Doesn’t Mean You - or NFP - Failed
Having many kids (may it be spaced naturally or not spaced) does not mean someone is a failure at NFP, or that NFP “doesn’t work.”
When we see an NFP practicing family who has multiple children and we naturally think… “yeah that NFP thing sure works really well…” we can be rest assured that this is often just a case of the openness to life that is prevalent among NFP practicing families.
Many NFP practicing families have larger sized families not because following a method “failed” but simply because they were open to conceiving. One of the most liberating parts of practicing NFP is trusting in God’s plan for your family.
10. Embrace Times of Abstinence
Because of how our bodies are designed, it can be especially difficult to abstain during our fertile windows. Despite what the world tells us, this self control and abstinence is virtuous. And it presents opportunities for us to foster our marriages.
In other words if you’ve discerned you need to abstain during your fertile window, try not to give into the world’s ideas that marriage is a “sex free for all,” that sex and babies can be separated, that abstaining will hurt your marriage or the idea that “if he isn’t getting it from me he will get it from someone else.” Despite the natural challenges abstaining often produces soon you will see abstinence as a vessel to the path of adopting self control and loving your spouse in a total and pure way.
Look on abstinence as a time to love one another in non-sexual ways as a fleshly sacrifice mutually made in love, and turn to the example of the Holy Family to give you strength and courage to bear it.
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