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What are the basics of Natural Family Planning?

There are two basic forms of Natural Family Planning (NFP). The oldest form of NFP is ecological breastfeeding. It is still widely practiced in certain parts of the world, and it is making a comeback in the United States. The key factor of ecological breastfeeding is frequent suckling. It requires no fertility awareness or periodic abstinence. The term "ecological breastfeeding" was developed to sharply distinguish this form of baby care from "cultural breastfeeding" which provides little or no natural infertility.

The second form of Natural Family Planning is Systematic NFP and is based on daily fertility awareness. It can be used both to achieve and to avoid or postpone pregnancy. When used to avoid pregnancy, the basic "method" is abstinence from the sexual intercourse during the fertile time. Technically, this form of NFP is best called "systematic" NFP, but today it is common to use the generic term "NFP" to mean only the systematic form without reference to ecological breastfeeding.

To AVOID Pregnancy

Buy Your Fertility Tracker Bracelet buy clicking on the picture!!!Providing you have not had cycles shorter than 26 days in the past two years; abstain from sexual intercourse beginning with Cycle Day 10 until Cycle day 18. This is based on a 28 day cycle with ovulation occurring mid way through. (note: not every woman's cycle is 28 days with ovulation occurring on day 14, in fact very few women have this type of cycle and cycles tend to vary slightly from month to month)

To ACHIEVE Pregnancy

Have sexual intercourse every other day from Cycle day 10 until Cycle day 18. Keep track of your waking temperature. A thermal shift of 18 days provides you with a 99% probability that you are pregnant. To estimate your due date, determine the first day of sustained thermal shift, subtract seven days, and add nine months.

Ecological Breastfeeding and Child Spacing.

Basic Principles

1. Frequent and unrestricted nursing is the primary factor in producing natural lactation amenorrhea and infertility. (Lactation amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation due to breastfeeding.)

2. Ecological breastfeeding (EBF) almost always provides this frequent nursing and natural infertility. It is that type of baby care which follows the natural mother-baby relationship. It avoids the use of artifacts and mother substitutes; it follows the baby-initiated patterns. EBF is the norm and offers many built-in benefits, one of which is extended natural infertility. In essence, a lengthy postpartum amenorrhea is the expected norm.

Phase I of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Seven Standards

This phase almost invariably produces natural infertility as long as the program is complete. Phase I usually lasts six months. The key to natural infertility is frequent and unrestricted nursing. The following Seven Standards help to ensure this frequent nursing.

1. Do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life; don't use other liquids and solids.

2. Pacify your baby at your breasts.

3. Don't use bottles and pacifiers.

4. Sleep with your baby for night feedings.

5. Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.

6. Nurse frequently day and night, and avoid schedules.

7. Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.

Phase II of Ecological Breastfeeding

  • Phase II of EBF begins when your baby starts taking solids or liquids other than breast milk.
  • You begin to give liquids when your baby shows an interest in the cup, usually after six months.
  • Aside from Standard #1, exclusive breastfeeding, the other Six Standards of Phase I will remain operative until the baby gradually loses interest in breastfeeding. Phase II is a very gradual program in which the amount of nursing is 1) not decreased at all at first, and 2) lessened only gradually at baby's pace. Phase II is frequently longer than Phase I with regard to natural infertility if the EBF program is followed with continued frequent and unrestricted nursing.

Chance of Pregnancy

The First 6 Months. The first 8 weeks postpartum for the exclusively breastfeeding mother are so infertile that in 1988 scientists agreed that any vaginal bleeding during the first 56 days postpartum can be ignored for determining amenorrhea or fertility for the exclusively breastfeeding mother. This rule would also apply to the EBF mother.

During the first 3 months postpartum, the chance of pregnancy occurring is practically nil if the EBF mother remains in amenorrhea. During the next 3 months postpartum, there is only a 1% chance of pregnancy if the EBF mother continues to remain in amenorrhea.

After 6 Months. For the nursing mother there is about a 6% chance of pregnancy occurring prior to the first menstruation. This assumes no fertility awareness and unrestricted intercourse. This risk can be reduced to close to 1% through the techniques of systematic natural family planning -- observing the signs of fertility and abstaining accordingly.

About 70% of EBF mothers experience their first menstruation between 9 and 20 months postpartum. The average return of menstruation for EBF mothers is between 14 and 15 months.

Natural Spacing by Breastfeeding Alone

For those couples who desire 18 to 30 months between the births of their children, ecological breastfeeding should be sufficient.


Other Websites With Fertility and Natural Family Planning Information

Fertility Awareness

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

Living With Our Fertility

Billings Ovulation Method

Ovulation method

Recording Fertility Indicators

Ovulation Calendar - an ovulation prediction program that uses menstrual cycle information to generate your personal fertility calendar, and lets you choose the gender of your baby.

My Monthly Cycles Fertility Center

The material in this website is provided for information purposes only. This information is not a substitute for, medical diagnosis, medical advice, or medical treatment prescription. Consult your health care provider for more information. If you are in Pittsburgh and need a midwife, send email to PghMidwife (at)
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