Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FAM "Miss-Conception"

Natural methods of birth control have kind of gotten a bad reputation. I hear women say "I got pregnant using those methods". If used correctly, this will not happen. But, FAM and NFP are often confused with the rhythm method. The rhythm method is an unreliable method of family planning in which the fertile phase of the cycle is calculated according to the lengths of the previous menstrual cycles. Because of its reliance on regular menstrual cycles and long periods of abstinence, it is neither effective nor widely accepted as a modern method of natural family planning. In addition, the rhythm method technique is known to use information based on a 28 day cycle. This is just simply not what all women experience. If you were to tell your caregiver that you use the rhythm method as a form of birth control they would most likely scoff and tell you it is an ineffective method, which it is because of what I just mentioned above. However, their calculations for pregnancy and "due dates" are based on a 28 day cycle wheel. Something is missing here.

I believe that if you are wanting to conceive and especially if you are having difficulty, it is crucial that you begin to document and chart your cycles. And, if you are wanting to avoid induction you must chart!

A quick story:

Dana was a 25-year-old women who had recently come off the Pill, so her cycles had not yet returned to normal. Because she and her husband wanted to get pregnant, they practiced Fertility Awareness to determine her fertile phase. After she became pregnant, he doctor asked her the date of her last menstrual period to apply the standard pregnancy wheel. Dana mentioned that the pregnancy wheel would be inaccurate in her particular case since it assumes ovulation on day 14. She explained that she practiced FAM and knew that she didn't ovulate until day 37, so it would inaccurately predict her due date a full three weeks earlier than it really should be.

You can imagine Dana's surprise when the doctor not only did not give her credence to her charts, but actually expressed great concern when his pelvic exam revealed that the fetus was "extremely small for dates." Had this women not been practicing Fertility Awareness, she would have been distressed to be told by the doctor that something was wrong with her fetus, all because he was basing her cycles on the average women's day of ovulation, rather than her own. As if that wasn't enough, he actually red-flagged her chart with a "medical alert" tag, indicating that her pregnancy was high risk and needed to be followed carefully.

I believe this story is also a classic example of the importance of charting not only to know the exact day of conception, but also to avoid a possible risky induction. Had she not been charting and instead relying only on the date of her last period, she would most likely be induced before the actual 40 week mark and never even know it. Her baby would not even be 40 weeks when they would possibly induce at 10 days past her "due date" according to her doctors calculation based on the pregnancy wheel.


Hannah said...

It is quite amazing how a little bit of paying attention to your body can be such a powerful thing!

Jackie said...

And things like this probably happen all the time... It's scary how many babies could be induced early (or worse!) because of a doctor's disbelief or ignorance of the woman's cycles. Someone who has been through med school should know better, in my opinion!