Here’s part 2 from my chapter in my book about birth control, in celebration of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week…
Being a Literal Tree of Life to Your Baby that Undergoes Seasons
The seven standards of ecological breastfeeding help you to view your body as a literal tree of life to your baby so that all your baby’s sustenance comes from you, and your anatomical trees of life, your milk ducts. This means no bottles of juice, formula, or water, and no other artificial nipples, namely pacifiers, along with some other rules. When you view your body as a tree of life to your baby, you really will be like a tree in that you will undergo seasons: birth can be viewed as harvest time, or autumn. LAM is winter. Every woman is ready at different postpartum times to start thinking about having another baby. It’s nice to know what you can do to lengthen the winter season of being infertile. Spring is when your fertility comes back as signaled by an increase in cervical fluid, ovulation, menstruation, and eventual conception. Summer is when new life is growing inside of you, the long phase of pregnancy and the intense growth and change of this new life. (In the chapter on the postpartum time, in Volume III, I discuss the topics of ecological breastfeeding and LAM more.)
My girlfriend Joyce Mitchell used to have a plum tree in her yard. I remember her talking about how it was so amazing that she never watered the tree, and yet every year, the tree would grow and bear fruit, at the same time of year. How did it know it was time to start budding and then bring forth fruit? No one ever told the tree. The tree had life force coursing through it that caused it to bear fruit. As women, we have life force coursing through us. This is the power to give life, either literally by bearing the fruit of our womb, or figuratively, by bearing the fruit of good works, or a combination of both. This power comes from God. We can honor this power to give and nurture life and the different seasons involved by practicing natural family planning and ecological breastfeeding. Natural family planning (NFP) means that a couple recognizes the wife’s signs of fertility. (In the chapter on seasons of the body in Volume III I go into the details of these signs, and the “how” of NFP. This chapter focuses on the “why.”)
If the couple wants to get pregnant, then they have intercourse during this fertile time. If they want to avoid pregnancy, then they avoid intercourse during the fertile time. For more “how-to” information, especially if you can’t wait to read about the how-to of NFP in Volume III, please download the free how-to manual about natural family planning at nfpandmore.org called The Art of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. This manual was written by a Catholic couple, John and Sheila Kippley, who wrote the original “Bible” of NFP, The Art of Natural Family Planning, when they were with Couple to Couple, an organization they founded to promote NFP among Catholics.
Because of various reasons that are beyond the scope of this book, the Kippleys left the organization they started and started a new one, called Natural Family Planning International.5 Any copies of the latter book with a copyright date after 2007 have changes in them that aren’t authored by the Kippleys. Unfortunately, they don’t own the copyright to the book and can’t control these changes. If you do buy a copy, buy it used so that you get a copy that hasn’t had the text altered after 2007. The free manual they wrote, which I mentioned above, available at nfpandmore.org is probably sufficient for you. This site has an interesting article, “Not Just for Catholics,” about the history of artificial birth control. It used to be considered highly immoral by all religious organizations. It is fascinating how this gradually changed, so that now our society gives blanket acceptance to it. Our society doesn’t question whether or not artificial birth control is good or healthy for a marriage and society in general.
The Harmful Social Effects of Artificial Contraception—Blocking Your Tree of Life’s Fertility Artificially
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.6
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.7
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, ཁin-lawཁ 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 ཁtake care of this women’s business,ཁ 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 ཁone fleshཁ that they have become through their marital vows.8