Waking up to the Dangers of the Pill

This post includes my favorite photos from the months of March and April. We shared a homeschooling day with our friends, played in the park with cousins on their spring break for a whole morning, went swimming in the mountains when it started snowing, fed some goats, and celebrated Easter! I love springtime! I love the new life energy!

Speaking of new life…that makes me think of babies, birth control, and Babylon. It seems like LDS are so unwilling to call the birth control pill for what it is…a piece of Babylon. Some LDS doctors hand out the Pill to new brides as if it were candy. But it’s not, it’s bad for you! (candy can be bad for you too, but this stuff is worse). There, I have said it! 

It seems like more and more moms around me, and not just moms, but dads too, are waking up to the dangers of the Pill. The Duggars have definitely helped with the cause by sharing the fact that the Pill can sometimes allow you to get pregnant, but then kill the baby and cause a miscarriage. It happened to Michelle, and her doctor confirmed it.

The Mommypotamus, Heather Dessinger, puts it more bluntly here:

Despite the fact that they are referred to as contraceptives (Latin for against conception, meaning that it prevents conception), birth control pills cause abortions.

Here’s another revelation: she also says that in 1976, doctors redefined the definition of conception. They said that instead of conception being the time of when the sperm fertilizes the ovum, it is the time when the fertilized egg is implanted. So that’s how they got away with saying that the Pill does not kill new life, it just prevents it from starting. Sneaky huh?

This is how Heather tells it in her blog post that I have hyperlinked above:

In 1976 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists redefined conception to mean the point at which a fertilized ovum implants in the mother’s uterine lining. That’s six days after the egg and sperm have joined. For six days that the child has been growing, but according to this new definition any chemical which prevents a fertilized ovum from being able to attach to it’s mother for nourishment has “prevented conception/pregnancy.” What?

So if your doctor tells you that the pill prevents conception and is not abortifacient, he or she is correct according to the new definition, but probably not the definition you were thinking of when you asked. Ironically, according to a former drug rep for Whitehall-Robins, a sister company to Wyeth-Ayerst (one of the top producers of the pill), your doctor is probably unaware that he is being misleading.

You can read more of the story for free by downloading the book pictured below here.

A few nights ago I went to a family fireside that featured some people as speakers that I haven’t seen in over 20 years. (They were so inspiring…more on that later.) They lived in my LDS ward when I was in grade school. So that made me think of other people from that ward, and that made me think of one of the daughters in one of these families who had a crush on the twin sons of the people who spoke to me on Sunday at the fireside. And that made me think of the daughter’s dad, who was our family doctor. I went to him when I broke my arm on the trampoline in fourth grade, and much later, after two years of college, when I was ready to get married, I went to him for my premarital exam. I got my first (and only) prescription for the Pill from him. 

Since then, I’ve done a lot of studying about the Pill. I went off it before I had my first baby (I was pregnant with him 20 years ago at this time) and I haven’t gone back! I have come to be convicted that the Catholics were/are right with their stance against artificial birth control, and so were the early LDS Church leaders. Here is a page with what some of them stated about artificial birth control when it first came out over 50 years ago. They’ve stopped talking about it because sadly, we as LDS, have stopped listening to them. But that doesn’t mean we have escaped condemnation. I think the negative consequences have come and have yet to come in full force.

So I thought for fun I would copy some sections from my book that I have available by clicking the tab “the book” above. I figure hardly any of you read it. Maybe if I copy part of it here and put some pictures with the text you will :-).

Honoring our sexuality and fertility according to their seasons, or practicing NFP, allows a couple great wisdom, order, and peace, because then they are following the natural law for sexual relations. It also benefits society with more marital fidelity and chastity. A thought-provoking article, which first appeared in the National Catholic Register, now can be found on the Couple to Couple League Web site. This article points out that Pope Paul VI predicted back in the 1960s, with his Humane Vitae letter, that there would be negative consequences to our society from the acceptance of contraception, or artificial birth control. The article cites two social scientists who say the following come from contraception: increase in premarital sex, increase in the divorce rate, an increase in men seeing women as sex objects, an increase in people postponing marriage and having children, an increase in men in general not “growing up” and committing to marriage, a decrease in the quality of sexual relations between men and women, and ironically, an increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births.

The Sweet Fruits of Honoring the Seasons of Fertility, or Natural Family Planning
On the other hand, couples who practice NFP have lower divorce rates in general. They also have happier marriages and find more satisfaction in their everyday lives. They also incorporate prayer more often in their lives and attend church more often, among other good things.
Couples who practice NFP also enjoy three marriage-building benefits, as copied verbatim from the Couple to Couple League Web site:

1. NFP provides couples with a built-in way of keeping a cycle of courtship and honeymoon in their marriage. To put it most briefly, this prevents either spouse from taking their sexual relationship for granted. It also prevents them from putting their whole approach to intimacy in their marriage on one aspect of their relationship: their sexual love for each other.
2. Couples who practice NFP find that by discussing and prayerfully discerning their aspirations and concerns about the size of their family, they find it more easy to discuss and handle other issues in their marriages: finances, in-law strategies, how to rear their children, etc.
3. Wives tell us they experience increased satisfaction and greater appreciation for their husbands, who are practicing self-control and willingly sacrificing some pleasure for the sake of their beloved spouse. Husbands tell us of feeling a sense of privilege in being let into knowledge of their wives’ fertility, an understanding few other men can claim to have. Even if it seems more convenient for husbands to let their wives take care of this women’s business, most NFP-using husbands would rather have the true equality this knowledge introduces into their marriages, marriages that pay more than lip service to the one flesh that they have become through their marital vows.

The Harmful Spiritual Effects of the Pill
Here are more problems with the Pill. The people at One More Soul say that contraception, both the Pill and other artificial forms, treats children like a disease, instead of an asset to a family and society. As One More Soul says on its Web site:

Contraceptives degrade women. From the day in junior high when a woman menstruates for the first time, a woman’s fertility is a huge part of her life. If her constantly changing hormones were not enough, for five to ten days every month she gets powerfully reminded again and again that this body of hers was designed to conceive and bear children. When a woman uses contraceptives, she and her partner are actively rejecting this essential fact about herself. Her ability to become pregnant, one of the greatest blessings of her life, becomes unacceptable and a burden. Because most contraceptives are designed to be used by women, when they fail, and a pregnancy occurs, it is “her fault.” She is expected to “deal with” her mistake, usually by having an abortion. The father of the child, although he is as responsible for this child as the mother, feels free to abandon both of them. After all, since the contraception wasn’t his responsibility, why should he be responsible for the result of the contraceptive failure?

So that’s why I believe in NFP. I believe that it is the natural law for enjoying sexual relations, as it involves the Biblical principle of living by the seasons. It brings forth happiness in marriage, instead of the bitter fruits of contraception. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, there is a time to embrace, which could be interpreted as having sex, and a time to refrain from embracing, which could mean abstinence. Of course I am not saying that if you use artificial contraception your marriage is doomed. I am saying that you are statistically more likely to get divorced if you use artificial contraception, and statistically more likely to have a fabulous marriage if you use NFP.
When a couple decides it’s time to nurture new life and a baby comes, then the mother has the opportunity to follow another set of natural laws that follow the Biblical principle of living by the seasons, the standards of ecological breastfeeding. If the mother nurtures her baby according to the Seven Laws of Ecological Breastfeeding, she will not run faster than she has strength. She is much less likely to have her babies too close together. She will also benefit from not putting synthetic chemicals into her body. There are definite health benefits from ecological breastfeeding. Your body gets a break from the monthly surge of estrogen and progesterone, and that lowers your risk for breast and uterine cancers. (Do a Google search and you will find lots of evidence for this. Both synthetic and natural estrogen are suspected as causes for these cancers.)

Just think about it. A mother who has many children, and nurses each baby ecologically (exclusively for at least six months, and probably a year or more), has much fewer menstrual cycles than a woman who has one or two children, does token breastfeeding for less than six months (so it is not enough to delay menstruation), and takes the Pill for decades. That is the norm for American women today. But before breast cancer rates went up, that’s not the way life was for women. I suspect that the increase in breast cancer rates in our society are due to the fact that women have departed from the traditional, healthy way of life for married women (having many children and breastfeeding them ecologically) and on top of that, have put synthetic forms of hormones into their bodies in the form of birth control pills.
I call natural family planning organic birth control. Going organic is popular among health nut people. Let’s apply it to birth control too Let’s quit taking pills full of synthetic chemicals that pollute our bodies, our water supply and our soil. Let’s quit taking pills that are abortifacients as well. Did you know that the Pill can cause the uterus to be a hostile environment, so that if an egg is fertilized and implants in the uterus, the uterus’ lining will not keep it alive? We have been commanded not to kill or “do anything like unto it,” in Doctrine and Covenants 59:6. That commandment extends to our choice of birth control methods.

The Harmful Physical Effects of Not Honoring the Seasons of Fertility- More on the Big Bad Pill
Using NFP is not just good for moral and marriage-building reasons, as listed above, but it has health benefits as well. Contrastingly, not only does the Pill hurt the relations between men and women, but it hurts women’s bodies. These problems include increasing the risk of blood clots, migraine headaches, heart attacks, and menstrual problems, according to One More Soul (OMS). You can confirm this by reading the package insert detailing the possible side effects, which accompanies a monthly set of Pills. OMS also points out that it is no coincidence that a rise in breast cancer started ten to fifteen years after the Pill became more widespread. This is probably because the Pill (the combination pill, not the minipill) contains synthetic estrogen and it has been well-documented that synthetic estrogen is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substance. (Again, do a Google search with the terms “estrogen” and “carcinogen” and you will find some data to back this up. Both synthetic and natural estrogen are suspected as causes for some kinds of cancers.) OMS also claims that the Pill has caused an increase in infertility. Some women spend years taking the Pill and then when they find themselves finally ready to have a baby, the find themselves infertile. OMS questions the ethics of the doctors who are taking fees for preventing fertility and then turning around and charging fees for treating infertility.

Did you know that the Pill was allowed to be released to the public for use before it was adequately shown to be safe? According to Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, MD, the birth control pill was approved for release to the public after research was done that was funded by birth control advocate Margaret Sanger and the drug manufacturer G.D. Searle. Talk about vested interests

Mendelsohn states:

FDA approval of the Pill was based on careless, inadequate studies that established its effectiveness but offered no valid scientific proof that it was safe for human use. One of the studies involved 132 Puerto Rican women who took the Pill for a year or more. Five of them died during the study, and no effort was even made to find out why (Emphasis in the original.) On the basis of that kind of scientific evidence the FDA approved a drug that ultimately would endanger 50 million women all over the world.

Apparently, these kinds of deaths in a drug trial are called “sudden unexplained deaths.” Surprisingly this is a commonly reported statistic in the literature of drug trial testing, even drugs that get FDA approval. I must say, it makes me leery of taking any drugs!

Dr. Mendelsohn goes on to say that the birth control pill makes a woman’s body sick. He says some symptoms show up right away, and some are not outwardly noticeable, but all women who take it are exposed to a potentially fatal risk.

How come this knowledge of the dangers of the Pill is not more widespread? We have grown up in a society that just automatically accepts the wonders of drugs. In the American culture, many people implicitly trust doctors to tell us everything we need to know about the drugs they prescribe. But does a doctor take the time to sit down with you and go over the package insert for every drug he prescribes? No. I don’t blame them entirely; they simply don’t have the time, and are usually overworked and behind schedule. I feel it is fair that we should do our own homework about a drug and ask them questions. But I do think they should point out that there are risks to drugs, even the seemingly wondrously convenient birth control pill, and remind us to read the package inserts.

Even many people in the LDS culture think that this little pill that you can take every day so that you can have sex whenever you want as a newlywed couple is a miracle of miracles. I too was sucked into this thinking when I was a new bride. I didn’t know about the negative side to the Pill. My LDS doctor, a member of his LDS stake high council, certainly didn’t take the time to tell me the side effects. I even wrote a paper about the Pill for an endocrinology class at BYU, all about how it miraculously works, with no mention of its shady history or downside. (I got an “A” on the paper, by the way, but how I wish now that I had stumbled upon the negative part like I did years later.)

Back to the Fruits of Honoring the Seasons of Fertility: NFP
NFP builds a marriage, as I mentioned earlier. You can read some terrific articles that exemplify this at the Couple to Couple League Web site. Go to ccli.org and click on “About NFP” and then click on “Marriage Building” and read the two articles listed at the bottom. Professor Janet Smith also gave an amazing talk on the subject. She is a Catholic professor of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. She gave a talk entitled “Contraception: Why Not?” at a Catholic Physicians Guild Meeting. In this talk Professor Smith, according to the One More Soul website, “provokes her audience to give serious consideration to questions regarding the relationship between contraception, divorce, abortion, poverty, and other social ills. She presents compelling evidence that couples who accept children as a gift from God and who use natural family planning if needed, have happier marriages with dramatically lower divorce rates than the general population. The message in ‘Contraception: Why Not?’ has captivated audiences on national and international levels.” You can read the transcript of the talk yourself (see the URL in footnote #14 below) or get a free audio copy on CD at the omsoul.com Web site.3 This should be required reading or listening for every engaged or newlywed couple.

Smith says that sex is for babies and bonding and that contraception takes God out of sex. This is how she explains natural family planning:

(I)t doesn’t say no to God. You see, it respects a woman’s fertility, has no bad social consequences (in fact, wonderful ones-there’s almost a non-existent divorce rate among couples using Natural Family Planning). It doesn’t say no to God because God has said, “I want to be there at the fertile time. I made the fertile time for bringing forth new human life. If you engage in this act, I want my option of making new human life. But I gave you a half of a month, three quarters of a month, where you’re infertile, and if you want to pursue the bonding power of the sexual act without babies, do it then. I’m asleep. I’m out of town. I don’t expect to be invited at that time. I’m not around. You can’t even do it. I won’t come. I can’t. I made your body in a certain way.” There’s no saying no to God. There’s respecting the fertility as if it’s kind of sacred ground. You don’t walk there unless you’re prepared for the consequences.

Smith claims that natural family planning is not contraception because it supports life and God. She also says that natural family planning enhances communication in marriage because every month at the woman’s fertile time the couple get to talk about if they are ready to have a baby. In her talk she also makes the interesting point that when testing was done on a male birth control device, it shrank the testicles, so the testing was immediately called off. This contrasts to the story we heard above from Dr. Mendelsohn about five women dying during testing of the Pill. (Where is the feminist outcry over this incredible injustice to these women? Where is the feminist outcry over the other harmful-to-women birth control methods, such as the Dalkon shield and DES?) Smith is such a believer in natural family planning that in her talk she gives the $1000 offer. She says she will give $1000 to anyone who gets a divorce after doing the following: abstaining from sex at least a year before marriage, get married in a church and keep going to church, use natural family planning, and pay tithing. She says, “If you get God, sex, and money in the right place, everything else is easy. 5 Natural family planning helps you do those things.

So Why Does our Local LDS OB-GYN Hand Out the Pill Like It’s Candy?
By now you may be saying, “Well, our church, the LDS Church, has not taken a stand about the birth control pill like the Catholic Church. In fact, I know that my stake president is an OB-GYN and he prescribes them all the time to new LDS brides.” It is true that our church hasn’t taken a stand saying, “Thou shalt not take the birth control pill.” If you read the official statement of the Church regarding birth control from the General Handbook of Instructions, it says this, “Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have a great responsibility not only for bearing children but also for caring for them through childhood…. Married couples should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel 6 I would daresay that the reason LDS doctors don’t know more about the side effects of the Pill is simply because they haven’t taken the time to educate themselves. The big money interests that promote artificial birth control also get in the way of this, as I describe in a few paragraphs. One courageous LDS doctor, Joseph Stanford, in family practice, has taken a stand and refuses to prescribe the Pill. Google his name and you will find an interesting article by him called, “Sex, Naturally.” It is popular among some Catholic Natural Family Planners. Sheila Kippley, founder of the Couple to Couple to League and Natural Family Planning International, sent me an email encouraging me to read his article.

Some LDS Church Leaders Have Taken a Stand Against Artificial Birth Control
If you go back to earlier statements from Church leaders, you get stronger counsel against using birth control. Here are some: this link will take you to the quotes.

If you go to the Church’s Web site and type in birth control in the search box, you will get the following: “Children are one of the greatest blessings in life, and their birth into loving and nurturing families is central to God’s purposes for humanity. When husband and wife are physically able, they have the privilege and responsibility to bring children into the world and to nurture them. The decision of how many children to have and when to have them is a private matter for the husband and wife.”

You can find more quotes from LDS Church leaders on birth control in the LDS Institute Manual titled Eternal Marriage, pages 14 to 16. You can find this online at ldsces.org/inst_manuals/full/CESInstitute_Marriage_Student_00__Complete_35311. This section has an excerpt from an old Ensign magazine, an “I Have a Question” feature that asked about “gospel family planning.” It is answered by an LDS OB-GYN. I am disappointed that this LDS doctor’s answer does not promote NFP much. I cannot speak authoritatively for the LDS Church, but I humbly submit that there is a “gospel family planning” method that works. It is NFP and the related Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It does work to prevent birth when the mother’s body needs a break. It is the only method that harmonizes with the natural cycle of a woman’s body and allows her to be the most in charge of her fertility and independent of stores and pharmacies. The Ensign article mentions a woman who needed a break after bearing many children. Sadly, she died during childbirth because she thought that it was against the teachings of the Church to do any form of birth control. She had medical problems that her pregnancy complicated and the result was death. This is a case where NFP was called for to avoid pregnancy. When are we as LDS Church members going to get what many Catholics, such as the Kippleys and the Couple to Couple League folks, already understand, that NFP is God’s way of family planning, and that it works?

We have never been told by the current prophet, “Thou shalt not use the birth control pill,” that’s true. But as shown by the above quotes, some of our leaders have counseled against using pills that would stop babies, or artificial practices that would block “that frail footpath” of new life. Notice the phrase in the letter from the first presidency: “Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor…it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children.” That hints at using natural family planning. The letter from the First Presidency also asked husbands to exercise self-control in sexual relations, which hints at using natural family planning as well. So I am going to be bold and say that NFP is the birth control method that most fully accords with LDS Church leaders’ teachings on birth control. There, I said it. (It’s not the popular thing to say, especially to LDS newlywed couples who want sex all the time, which is easily afforded by using the Pill, but I feel I am obligated to say what is right, not necessarily popular.) Not just NFP, but NFP with ecological breastfeeding, so that babies are born at a sustainable pace.

Being Sensitive to Family Size
I am not saying that people with large families or those that have a baby nine months after the honeymoon are better than those with small families or those who delay having children. I know there are many factors involved in having children and we are not here to judge each other by our family size. This is not a race to see who can have the most kids the fastest. A young newlywed couple in your ward may seem like they are postponing having children after a year or two of no pregnancy, but in reality they may be struggling with infertility or miscarriages. We just never know. Similarly, the same thing may be happening in a family that already has children. In this day of xenoestrogens and other toxins that wreak havoc with fertility, secondary infertility is common. We are called to love and support each other, and leave the judging, and any comments, to God.

Well, I Have a Legitimate Reason for Postponing Pregnancy, Will NFP Really Work for Me?
By now you might be saying, how can we listen to you (meaning, me, the author) about how great NFP as birth control is when you have, ahem… seven kids? How can we know that it is truly effective in preventing birth when there is a drastic need, such as a chronic medical condition? Sometimes the mother has a chronic medical condition that can’t be improved by diet, nutritional supplements, or other lifestyle changes and having a baby would exacerbate the medical condition. Or the husband has a chronic medical condition and does not feel he can fully provide for a burgeoning family. Or the youngest child in the family, the baby, has a chronic medical condition that merits the baby being the baby as long as possible to get the attention he or she needs. According to Toni Weschler, M.P.H., NFP has a method failure rate of 2%. See the chart comparing the effectiveness rates of birth control methods on p. 313 in Appendix D of her book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Remember, for a method to be effective, you have to follow the rules. No cheating, no matter how passionate you are. Please don’t say that NFP didn’t work when you actually cheated and had sex before the third dry day was over and got pregnant. None of that.

If NFP is Effective, Why Don’t We Hear About it More?
The reason why you don’t hear about it more or have it promoted to you by your doctor or see it in slick ads in popular magazines is that it doesn’t have nearly the amount of big business or money vested in it. There is just not nearly as much profit to be made from NFP as from a pill and other consumable birth control products that get repeat usage, hence repeat sales, and repeat income for the businesses and doctors involved in getting them to people. This is even though artificial birth control actually harms people in the long run and separates them from their bodies. I think that the people involved in the birth control industry could be compared to the “conspiring men” in the tobacco industry prophesied about in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89. (See pages 4 to 14 of the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility for more on the politics of artificial birth control.) NFP is nearly free. You can get a free instruction booklet teaching you how to do NFP at nfpandmore.org and then buy a basal body thermometer for less than $20 at Target and that’s all you need to have an effective birth control method for the rest of your fertile married life. This is one of the few times you as a Mormon girl can go ahead and be subversive and rebellious doing a good thing, refusing to participate in the business of conspiring men in the last days.

NFP Sounds Great, But How Do I Get My Husband to Agree to It?
I know, some husbands initially resist NFP, because it means they can’t have sex all the time. I suggest first of all leaving some literature around for him to casually pick up and read. No pressure. Then after a while, if he seems open to the idea, talk to him about the fact that NFP will allow you to save money. Then mention that it will also make life easier for you because you won’t have to repeatedly go to the doctor or the store for birth control supplies. Finally, appeal to sexual pleasure. Sex is more fun, perhaps because the passion is more concentrated, like water bursting after a dam breaks, after going for some time without it. The passion, and hence, pleasure, involved in sex can get diluted from everyday expression.

Stages of NFP
Here are some stages of NFP. The first is a baby step to propose to your husband to get him used to the idea of NFP. With all of this, remember the principle I mentioned in the chapter on marriage that unity in marriage trumps any of your wholesome, green, granola ideas, so please don’t proceed with NFP unless you have your husband’s full enrollment. Husbands don’t like the rules changing unless they agree to them, and you most likely agreed to a birth control method or rule when you first got married.

1. First, the baby step. Use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). Some purists would say that this technically isn’t truly NFP, but it relies on the same sympto-thermal signals of a woman’s body. It is the method Toni Weschler promotes in the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Show him the book and the data on page 313 and the reasoning she has for the FAM. Basically, the FAM involves tracking your signals, so that you know when you are fertile, and if you want to avoid pregnancy you use a barrier method during your fertile time instead of abstinence. This is a nice transition stage to get used to feeling confident in reading your signals. If your husband is into data and statistics you can even make tracking your signals fun for him by getting the Ovusoft software at Weschler’s Web site, ovusoft.com.

2. After getting used to interpreting and tracking your fertility signals, take the leap of faith and move on to NFP. This will involve a monthly period of abstinence which seems like a sacrifice (no barrier method during the fertile time) if you are avoiding pregnancy. But, as I referred to above a few paragraphs ago, it’s worth it. You get to experience a monthly time-frame of virginal courtship, when no sex is allowed, so that you can express your love to each other in nonsexual ways. This builds up to a passionate, wild abandonment of consummation when the fertile time is over, just like what happened when you were courting and then got married and had a honeymoon.

3. Surrender your fertility to God and rely solely on ecological breastfeeding and its natural child spacing effect. This ideally comes if you are confidently feeling that the soil of your mother nurture-culture which I referred to in Chapter 4 is superfertile and you have a strong root system of a husband, extended family, and community. A fertile soil and strong root system will support you in being a fruitful mothering tree of life at a sustainable pace so you don’t burn out having babies too close together. You do this by treating your body as a tree of life to your baby by practicing ecological breastfeeding so that your uterus and your body in general has a proper season of rest and renewal. This will space your babies about 18 months to two years or more, depending upon your own biological makeup. I don’t recommend that spacing to every mother, just those who feel that they have their soil very enriched and their root system in place so they feel well-nourished and well-equipped to be a nourishing mother to many children close in age.

Feel free to go back and forth between the stages as circumstances change in your life, especially as you have more children, and as the fertility of your self-nurturing soil changes.

So What Do We Do After I Have a Baby?
If you breastfeed ecologically, you will have a long spell of having either no fertility signals after the birth your baby, or the same cervical fluid, with no change, day after day. This is called BIP, for Basic Infertile Pattern. Then as your baby gets older and nurses less and eats solids more, you might experience a month or more of wetter-quality cervical fluid. This change, or blip, in your BIP is a big wake-up call to you that you are slipping back into fertile mode, so be prepared to either decide you are ready to get pregnant or not. I have experienced this change in the BIP as late as a year postpartum and as early as five months, and it depended on how closely I was following the eco breastfeeding rules. A month or more is a long time to ask a married couple to abstain if they feel they need to postpone pregnancy, so in that case I feel it’s OK to switch to using the FAM method. The book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, addresses what happens to your signals while breastfeeding and how to track them in Appendices B and C of the book. The free manual at nfpandmore.org does as well.

This is a Test
I feel personally that the whole birth control issue is a test for married couples to see if they have pure hearts full of enough faith to receive whatever X amount of children God wants them to have. Only God knows your circumstances fully and knows what you can truly handle, no excuses involved. Only if we have pure hearts can we live in Zion, which literally means “the pure in heart.” We can pass the test by asking for and receiving the pure love of Christ, or charity, to transform our hearts so that we have the patience, self-discipline, and faith needed to receive whatever X amount of children God wants us to receive. We do this by praying “with all the energy” of our hearts, as it says in Moroni 7:48.`

If we have charity, the pure love of Christ, is it possible that we might be willing to do the things needed to increase our capacity to have however many children Heavenly Father wants us to have? That’s where self-discipline comes in. This involves following the Word of Wisdom (whole grains, fruits and vegetables and herbs, eating meat sparingly), engaging in regular whole movement, i.e. aerobic exercise and stretching exercises, avoiding harmful foods and drink (not just tea and coffee, but artificial foods, and too much white sugar and white flour), avoiding drugs, getting enough whole sleep, and saying no to things that distract a mother away from her season of bearing and nurturing children. Having charity will also allow us to give more and live through the wear and tear that come from being around little children constantly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Lord has said in Doctrine and Covenants 58: 26-29:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

If you use the birth control pill because you feel you haven’t been prohibited from it by the prophet, perhaps you are being a slothful and not a wise servant. Ouch.

So Why are the Catholic Church Leaders Big on NFP But Not the Mormons?
By now you also might also be saying, “If NFP (natural family planning) is so great and moral, how come the LDS church doesn’t promote it more?” I have wondered the same thing. I think, and this is just my opinion of course, not official LDS Church doctrine, that this is a test of the Lord. Those who have ears to hear, will hear. The truths to back up NFP are in the writings of church leaders as seen by what I’ve quoted. For those who might not be ready to accept it, it’s not put forth boldly. Maybe this is so new members who join and are emerging from the Culture of Death our world is seeped in (abortion, contraception, promiscuity, etc.) don’t feel overwhelmed, feeling like “If I join the Mormon Church I have to give up coffee, drinking, and pay tithing, and practice NFP too? No thanks. Too hard.” Perhaps also it is a test for us as members to see if we are willing to see truth that comes from other organizations like the Catholic Church with its Humane Vitae encyclical from Pope Paul VI and the Catholic organization of Couple to Couple League.

Are You Ready to See Your Body as a Fruitful Tree of Life?
I conclude this chapter with an invitation for you to view your body as a fruitful mothering tree of life. I invite you to honor this fruitfulness and the seasonality of a fruit-bearing tree of life body by practicing natural family planning and ecological breastfeeding.

NFP is supported by our church leaders as referenced above by the pleas not to “dam up the wellsprings of life” and to use “mutual consideration.” Please keep in mind that these leaders are not suggesting you have babies as fast as you can. Mosiah 4:27 says to “see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” Honoring the fruitfulness of your mothering tree of life by allowing your body to have seasons with ecological breastfeeding (see http://nfpandmore.org), and by prayerfully considering each month whether or not God is calling you to have another baby as you approach your fertile time allows you to have babies in wisdom and order and not run faster than you have strength. It also allows you to avoid all the harmful effects of artificial birth control.

For more information on natural family planning see the following Web sites:

physiciansforlife.org, click on birth control on the left

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