We have just a few more provider spotlights to finish out our Natural Family Planning: How to Get Started Series. This week we welcome long time educator and NFPI co-founder, John Kippley to teach us about the technical and theological beliefs behind Natural Family Planning International! Thank you John!
Natural Family Planning International (http://www.nfpandmore.org) calls its system “the complete approach.” It teaches two distinct methods of NFP—ecological breastfeeding as a form of natural baby spacing and the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) of systematic NFP. It also incorporates the New Evangelization effort of the Catholic Church so that students can connect the dots between Jesus at the Last Supper and today’s Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality.
Catholicity. We are gratefully Catholic and we do not hide it. We are grateful that atheists, agnostics, Protestants (including some who thought they were anti-Catholic), and contracepting Catholics have been helped by our materials to accept Catholic teaching on birth control. We are grateful that for some this has been a significant step on the way to enter or to return to the Catholic Church. We do not condemn or point fingers. We simply light a candle to affirm, clarify, and explain Catholic teaching. Truth has real force among those who have an open heart.
Morality. NFPI does not teach “Catholic birth control.” We teach what the Catholic Church teaches about God’s plan for marriage and family, the call to generosity, and the need to have a sufficiently serious reason to use systematic NFP to postpone pregnancy. No such reasons are needed for the practice of ecological breastfeeding.
Theological support. NFPI uses the easy-to-grasp covenant theology that Pope John Paul II used ten years after he finished his monumental Theology of the Body lectures. It can be summarized in 17 words: Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant. Many couples with open hearts and minds grasp this almost intuitively because it helps them to understand why the same anatomical act can be a mortal sin outside of marriage and a great good within marriage.
Systematic NFP. All forms of fertility awareness are systems to identify the beginning and the end of the fertile time. The only “method” of true NFP is chaste abstinence from sexual union during the fertile time. Each system of NFP or fertility awareness focuses on one or more signs of fertility and infertility.
NFPI teaches all the commons signs of fertility awareness—changes in cervical mucus, changes in basal temperatures, and changes in the cervix itself. God built all of these into female human nature, and we are excited to provide all engaged and married couples the information needed to understand these realities so that they can make informed choices.
Cervical mucus and physical changes in the cervix. NFPI does not attempt to settle the debate about external observations (sensations or tissues). We teach both so that individual women can decide which works best for them. We also teach two internal observations as optional. Dr. Edward F. Keefe taught women to observe cervical mucus at the cervical os and to observe physical changes in the cervix. Some women find these observations very helpful at certain times. We inform our students so that they can make informed choices.
The temperature sign is an important part of our method. Its elevation as cervical mucus is drying up provides a positive crosscheck that gives added confidence. In NFPI we teach couples how to identify the kind of temperature elevation that can enable couples to reduce abstinence as much as the evidence allows. In practice, with the right kind of upward temperature shift, couples can see the start of Phase 3 (postovulation infertility) starting on Peak Day+2 instead of P+3 or P+4 with other rules. This aspect of our method is based on the excellent temperature-only effectiveness research by Dr. G. K. Doering. See http://www.nfpandmore.org/Doering-1967-100315.pdf .
The temperature sign is the best single indicator of the estimated due date. It can also be very helpful in determining a state of non-pregnancy.
You can download free charts at the NFPI Home Page. The details of charting are explained piece by piece in Chapter 2 of NFP: The Complete Approach.
Ecological Breastfeeding. We confidently teach Ecological Breastfeeding not only as wonderful for nutrition and nurturing but also as God’s own plan for spacing babies. You can find our research based evidence at http://www.nfpandmore.org/relationbreastfeeding.shtml . Our research clearly shows that American mothers who follow the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeed average 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea (absence of periods). The Seven Standards are maternal behaviors that greatly influence the frequency and duration of suckling—the controllable factors most responsible for the duration of breastfeeding amenorrhea. In our studies, 93% of the mothers experienced their first period beyond six months, and 33% were still in amenorrhea at 18 months. People of other faiths (Amish, other conservative Protestants, conservative Jews and more) use our books to learn how to space their babies naturally and sometimes exclusively with ecological breastfeeding.
For an enthusiastic commentary by a young mother:
For research on breastfeeding and baby spacing, see http://www.nfpandmore.org/nfpresearch.shtm.
Instruction & Cost
NFPI offers three ways to learn NFP.
Web Download: At the NFPI website, you can download the manual, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. We ask for a donation of $10, but if you consider yourself to be in significant financial hardship, you can download it for free. We do not expect donations from downloaders in Third World countries.
Homestudy Course: At the NFPI website, you can also enroll in the NFPI Home Study Course for a donation of $70. See http://www.nfpandmore.org/The_NFPI_Home_Study_Course.pdf. This uses the same manual, and in addition it has a series of three tests that are transmitted by email. These are designed to help you grow in understanding and confidence. Correction is done on a personal basis by an experienced staffer at NFPI. We do our best to make sure you understand the principles and how to apply them accurately.
In-Person: In a few locations, we offer classroom courses for a donation of $70 including materials. We provide free teacher training for couples who want to offer this service in their communities.
Continuing information and support is provided via a weekly blog that becomes daily during National NFP Awareness Week and World Breastfeeding Week.
At the NFPI Home Page, http://www.nfpandmore.org, you will find several books related to systematic NFP, ecological breastfeeding, and theology.
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. We recommend the spiral bound edition that lies flat and makes it easy to do the paper and pencil exercises.
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor reviews the research behind each of the seven standards.
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: The Ecology of Natural Mothering describes in a motherly way how to use the Seven Standards in a typical American culture.
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood applies the papal Theology of the Body to the bodily and self-giving act of breastfeeding.
Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality develops the renewal-of-the-marriage-covenant theology including its biblical bases. It also has significant chapters on conscience, morality, and the ideas of dissenters. Scott Hahn says that a previous edition of this book helped him and Kimberly to accept Catholic teaching on birth control when they were still Protestants.
At http://www.nfpandmore.org/nfpresources.shtml you will find articles and research dealing with NFP and related subjects. Here you will find the only English translation of Dr. G. K. Doering’s landmark article on the temperature-only system.
We invite you to read the two articles dealing with the Sexual Revolution.
This spotlight was written by:
Co-Founder, Natural Family Planning International