Tag Archives: charting

Postpartum Class July 2nd

One of our teaching couples, Mark & Chelle Smith-Vandergriff, is offering a Postpartum transition class on Wednesday, July 2nd, at 5:30pm in Jefferson City. Please contact them if you are interested in attending!

Generally, our transition courses (Postpartum, Premenopause) are scheduled as needed. If you are interested in one of these courses, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The transition classes generally take about 2 hours each, give or take a little depending on questions, size of class, etc., and you must have taken the Main Series course since the update in 2008, otherwise an Upgrade Class is recommended. The cost depends upon the status of current CCL membership, so we recommend contact a teaching couple for more specifics. Scholarship aid may be available, and we encourage anyone who has a need to ask. Our hope is that money will not be a barrier to learning.

If you have any questions about anything, especially whether you need an Upgrade Class, just contact any of us and we will be happy to help!

Premenopause Transition Classes & 2014 Class Schedule

Source: photo.elsoar.com

Source: photo.elsoar.com

Wow, have you seen our 2014 class schedule? It is looking great! Two classes have already started and the year is just beginning.

And we have two – count ’em TWO! – Premenopause Transition courses scheduled as well: June 8th and August 9th.

The Transition classes are complementary to the Main Class Series. As the name implies, in the Main Class Series you learn all you need to know to practice the sympto-thermal method, but these two type of life events, postpartum and premenopause, can be a little tricky and have special rules in regards to interpreting the mucus patterns that are affected by the changing hormone levels. Amazingly, the rules for both are just about the same which is why CCL has combined the courses into one book simply called Transitions Student Guide. Though rules may overlap at times, the end result is different (return of fertility after childbirth vs. approaching the end of the fertile years), and so it is taught in two separate courses.

At this time, Postpartum classes are scheduled upon request, usually because the time when a woman is ready for that course depends upon her due date and so on. The Premenopause class, however, is something that a woman may take anytime, usually close to the time that she suspects the change is coming or that it will come in a year or two. Learning the materials ahead of time is always helping not only in successfully interpreting cycles but also to prepare, even emotionally, for the changes to come, and to learn ways to stay healthy during the changes.

For those with current membership to CCL, there is no additional cost to take any Transition course, or, for that matter, an Upgrade Class for those who would like a refresher to the Main Class Series. The only cost is that of the student guide books, which can be purchased when registering for a class. For those without current membership, there is simply a small fee in addition to the book.

So, check out our schedules, bookmark or pass them along! You never know who might be interested, and we can always use the extra help in spreading the word.


NFP-Supportive Physicians

Sometimes it is tough practicing natural family planning in today’s society. Contraceptives are the accepted norm, so much so that the mere mention of NFP elicits a response equivalent to a sympathetic pat on the hand. Much of this is due to lack of education. In sex education classes, our school children are encouraged to practice “safe sex,” and in many places they can get free handouts from their school nurse. It is no wonder, then, that as adults many of our friends, family and colleagues simply do not understand how NFP works. Thus, when we meet other families who use NFP, it is like an oasis in the desert: “Aah, friends who understand!” It is the same way with doctors.

Since the development of the Pill, medical schools have set their full attention on contraceptives. Students very rarely hear about natural family planning, and when they do, it is often referenced to as the Rhythm Method, a calendar-based system that is highly ineffective, and so they also go uneducated. However, there are doctors who have discovered the benefits of NFP and who promote it exclusively, like these courageous doctors of Downers Grove, IL, who left their practices and established a new one where they will no longer prescribe birth control or perform sterilizations but instead support women using any form of NFP. Another one of our dear desert oases.

I have had the experience of visiting a NFP-supportive physician, and the difference in the visit was wonderful. He not only appreciated my bringing along my NFP chart and asked questions about my observed fertility signs, but he also asked follow-up questions which respected my knowledge of my own body. Instead of a pat on the hand, it was a pat on the back. And the best part, instead of being given the option of taking birth control to solve any “problems,” we discussed the taking of blood samples to determine any low or high hormone levels to determine the source of the problem, which would then help us find healthy, natural ways of solving them and getting me back to a better state of health. Wonderful!

NFP-supportive physicians can be hard to find, especially in rural areas, but there is a great tool you can use to locate one: onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory. Search results include NFP centers, pharmacies, medical professionals and teachers, all located by zip code.

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Find a NFP-supportive physician at onemoresoul.com/nfp-directory

Many NFP-supportive physicians have been trained through NaProTechnology, which is a new branch of health science dedicated exclusively to monitoring and maintaining a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health. They also assist with male infertility. To learn more about this exciting new field, go to www.naprotechnology.com/.

My hope is that you will be able to find the kind of supportive health care you need when you need it, knowing that it is out there to find.


Sharing the Journey: Natural Parenting

Note: The views expressed in this post are personal in nature and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Couple to Couple League, Inc.

This post marks the beginning of a new series, Sharing the Journey, in which I and fellow NFP families will occasionally share about our own life experiences. They may deal directly with the use of NFP in our spousal relationships and planning our families, but probably more often than not we’ll talk about the indirect ways our uses of NFP influence our lives.

I consider myself a spontaneous organizer. Yes, that is basically an oxymoron. I am a conflicted person. My living and working space HAS to be organized otherwise I grow increasingly anxious and eventually break down or blow up, as my dear husband can tell you. However, I also enjoy changing things up (hence my constant rearranging of furniture), or deciding to go somewhere or do something at the last minute. Sometimes one attribute overwhelms the other, like when I suddenly decide to go somewhere only to realize I forgot to look up the directions beforehand and thus have absolutely no idea how to get there. True story, multiple times over.

Knowing this about myself, particularly the driving-without-directions tendency, when we found out we were expecting I threw myself into organizing mode, like big time. The funny thing is that despite growing up around babies and children, babysitting, and STUDYING child and family development as a major in college, no less, I suddenly forgot every single thing I ever knew and felt sure I did not know enough to subsist outside of the hospital. I began grabbing every parenting book I could get my hands on and scheduled Jeremy and me up for the entire series of child preparation classes the hospital provided. Still, when the day came for our scheduled C-section (how can you get more organized than planning the actual birth day, I’d like to know, though that wasn’t the intention), I felt so inadequate. I kept praying and chose to trust that God would guide us. And He has.

Soon after bringing our daughter home, I finally got my hands on a copy of the Sears’ Attachment Parenting book. I am not exaggerating when I say it changed everything, our whole approach to parenting. There were two other books that were also pivotal (Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, both by Sheila Kippley), but for some reason the Sears’ book really hit home. I learned that by following a few basic guidelines and allowing my mothering instinct to guide me in responding to our baby’s cues, everything would fall into place and the result would be a healthy, happy baby and family. The continually unfolding story of our lives is telling me that this is happening.

So, we threw all those modern ideas I had been reading about out the window and began simply listening and responding to our baby’s cues instead. It could not have been simpler! For example, before reading the section about sleep, we had tried getting up for night feedings and laying her in the bassinet by herself to sleep. When I read about co-sleeping, however, it seemed to directly meet the communicated need to be closer to us, through the long, dark night, and it solved our sleep deprivation problem. Thus, I morphed from Zombie-Mom to Happily-Adjusting-Mother-of-a-Newborn, which is a more pleasant state of existence for all involved. Then also, reading the section about babywearing and all the benefits of keeping baby close was so insightful and made so much sense!  She seemed so much happier close to our hearts, and to the sound she had heard for nine months, and then as she grew it was apparent she was benefiting from all of the constant interacting with us. And of course there was breastfeeding. I had already decided to exclusively breastfeed, but it was so reassuring to be reaffirmed in the practice of pacifying her at the breast, breastfeeding when she indicated a desire and not according to a schedule, and that in fact it meets not only nutritional needs but also a very essential emotional one as well. These are just a few out of the many experiences we have had.

All of these things made sense to use because of our practice of NFP. By charting my body’s naturally-occurring physiological changes, I have come to believe and trust in my body. I understand how it works and appreciate its natural design, its intricate workings so delicately balanced and set in motion. I know that it is the way it is for a reason. All I have to do is pay attention and then respond to my natural cues, which is precisely what natural parenting is: paying attention to my child’s natural cues and responding appropriately and lovingly.

The more I learn about NFP, natural parenting, or just nature in general, I am reaffirmed in the belief that God created me and all creation with a plan and purpose. He not only made it so that the deepest, most intimate act of love, the marital embrace, is life-creating, resulting in a totally new and unique human being (love with a name), but He also gives us everything we need to care for our families. One “proof” for me of all this is our daughter. She not only is a pure gift to Jeremy and me, a fruit of our married love, but the efforts of natural parenting has been a happy, healthy, well-adjusted little girl.

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

Yes, she is this happy all the time!

When the time comes, I hope you find the key to the world of natural parenting and discover that you have all the tools and skills you need to build strong bonds with your spouse and children, and a strong, harmonious family life. May God bless you on your journey!

Humor & NFP: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: Some descriptors of cervical mucus are used within this post. Perhaps this story is only really funny for those who use NFP and are familiar with checking cervical mucus on a daily basis. For the squeamish and weak-stomached, you have been warned: proceed to read at your own risk! 🙂

Those who use NFP may have had this experience: that of finding we know more than our doctors do about our reproductive cycle. No kidding. What students learn in CCL’s Main Course Series is more than just about any student will learn from medical school. Thus, we usually become educators, informing doctors of the use and efficacy of natural family planning and surprising them with our knowledge and insight into our own cycles. Sometimes, too, the educating is done with a bit of humor. Read below for one NFP-user’s recent humorous experience with her OB/GYN.

The Story
Let me begin by saying that I am unusually close with my doctor. My husband is a serviceman. While I was pregnant, after finding that we were both a little more stressed than usual about the coming baby and our life situation he said, “You have to pray and trust in God. I’ll pray for you too.” Later, after our daughter was born and my husband was deployed overseas, I found a second suspicious lump in my breast. My doctor called to give me his cell phone number and told me that my daughter and I would be coming to dinner at his house at least once a week if the lump turned out to be cancerous.

My OB/GYN is a University teaching doctor and so he almost always has medical students accompanying him. Though he is not NFP-only, at every visit he tells the student, “NFP is different than the Rhythm method. I have never had a patient who has actually taken the NFP classes come in here and tell me they accidentally got pregnant.” This past week, he said the same thing to his student, but she also learned a little bit more about fertility and the sympto-thermal method.

This week was my annual well-woman check-up. My doctor asked if the student could do the pap smear as she had never done one before, and I agreed as I trust his judgement. However, pretty quickly she made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable with this exam, and my doctor took over. At that point he said, “This is a LOT of mucus! Where are you in your cycle?”

I really thought this was hysterical and replied, “Oh, I’m probably ovulating in the next day or two. I knew you were supposed to avoid coming to these appointments while on your period, but nobody ever said anything about ovulation!”

“I bet you have mucus that could stretch across the room!” he said, and he showed what he meant to the student, who was clearly very seriously fascinated. It became clear that this student had never seen fertile mucus, probably because 95% of their patients are on birth control or pregnant, and I suppose the likelihood that any woman out of that last 5% happen to show up while they’re ovulating is fairly slim. The student even said as she left, “Thank you for coming today! It was so nice to meet you!”

The situation may sound a little awkward, but at the time it really was hilarious.  Though he is not NFP-only and supports the use of birth control, I think the relationship I have with my doctor is unique enough to keep us there. I also feel the “learning experience” his students receive might entice them to learn more about the benefits and possibilities of NFP and is itself a good reason for visiting this clinic!

To the Inexperienced, Some Explanations
When the doctor described her mucus as able to stretch across the room, he was exaggerating of course. When ovulation is approaching, there can be so much cervical mucus that it feels like a menstrual bleed and soak the underwear. This type of mucus can also be described as “stretchy.” Cervical mucus changes in response to the change in the estrogen hormone, which is always present throughout a woman’s cycle but fluctuates at certain times and so gives a clue as to where in a cycle a woman is at. Thus, our storyteller knew that, based on the type and quantity of mucus (through charting), she knew she would be ovulating within a day or two.

Conversely, when a woman is using a form of birth control and suppressing her reproductive cycle, the synthetic hormones or device used interferes with the woman’s natural hormones and so cervical mucus is not what it would be at its natural state. Thus, many women do not have this experience of abundant “fertile” cervical mucus, which is why both the doctor and medical student were surprised by this experience as well.

Do You Have a Story to Share?

If you have a story, of any sort, that you would like to share regarding your experiences with NFP in some way, shape or form, let me know (preferably by email)! If appropriate for the blog, I can submit anonymously, like the one above. Sharing experiences can be so helpful, especially in bringing together the NFP community and supporting each other along the journey.

CycleProGo Mobile App

The Couple to Couple League (CCL), Inc., has launched it’s very own natural family planning charting app, CycleProGo!

Image of Devices

Based on the Sympto-Thermal Method learned through CCL’s Main Course Series, CycleProGo takes charting to a new level. With this mobile application you can record all the fertility signs usually associated with a paper chart, in addition to creating custom-designed events. It assists couples with determining the fertile and infertile phases of the woman’s cycle, is accessible between multiple devices, and the charts are easy to share with each other or a teaching couple. A 90-day free trial is included at registration with the purchase of a Main Class Series. Find out more about CycleProGo here.

Note: Using CycleProGo is only recommended after having completed CCL’s Main Class series.