My Baby’s Voice

I’m guest posting over on Zulily UK today.

We all know that babies cry, and that they cry to tell us that they’re sad, hungry, thirsty, tired, overstimulated, cold, hot, and just about everything else. It’s one of the first things you learn as a new mum – distinguishing those cries and knowing which one means what. It’s also one of the first victories of motherhood: hearing a cry, responding to it appropriately and seeing your baby settle, smile or relax. It’s wonderful.

read more…

*For the record, I love Zulily, and I’ve loved every thing we’ve received from Zulily through purchases, credits or for review. Yes, I have a business arrangement with Zulily, but rest assured, I wouldn’t if I didn’t love them! If you join Zulily from my link, I’ll receive £10 if you make your first purchase.

My Body, My Choice With A Backup – A Look At IUD’s

After I had my first son, I knew that I would want to get pregnant in the future but not right this minute and I wanted some assurance that it would not happen. I had been on hormonal birth control prior to having children and I was not happy with what it had done to my body over the 10 plus years I used it and I also did not like the possibility that it might mess with my precious milk supply.

I was much too lazy and forgetful for the charting and NFP that we had learned about through our Pre-Canaan classes before I was a mom. As a new mom I barely remembered to take my prenatal vitamins and I was exclusively breastfeeding, which in itself is a form of birth control called ecological breastfeeding or LAM but I wanted to be sure.


Just look at all the little doo-dads we have used over the years for IUDs

I couldn’t rely on knowing when my cycle would return in order and I wasn’t ready to trust my body to know when a cycle was coming. I don’t like and have never liked condoms and besides I am allergic and need to use only one specific brand. Who has time as a new parent to remember to put one on when you find that one moment of together time? That wasn’t going to work. So what is a newly natural minded mama to do?

I decided on an IUD or intrauterine device. I opted for the non-hormonal copper unit because I hated the hormone birth control and there was still the risk of interfering with milk supply. I was still taking a chance that I might have a reaction to copper since my skin reacts to cheap jewelry and I never really had copper around me before – luckily I didn’t.

I barely felt the insertion and I was only aware of the device being inside me for a few hours after. We weren’t completely positive when we would like to have another child (I was thinking in another year, he was thinking talk to me after we’ve been parents for a bit) so I liked that it could be left in for up to 10 years or it could be removed before that.

It contained no hormones so it was not interfering with my body in that way. It would however physically block sperm from meeting the egg or the egg from implanting.

Paragard packaged prior to use

I chose to use the IUD for around a year. By then I had seen some side affects from it and I really never saw the return of my period because I was using the IUD and breastfeeding. Maybe there is something to LAM after all? But we decided to add another member to our family.

I was expecting to feel some discomfort from the removal but I did not feel anything. That could be attributed to having a vaginal birth prior because some women do complain of discomfort during insertion and removal.

Overall though I was happy. I was not constantly worried that I was going to get pregnant before I wanted to but I also did not feel the way I did on hormonal birth control with the ups and downs of mood swings. After the birth of my second child this will definitely be a consideration for me again because just like every pregnancy is different, every post-natal menstrual cycle is different and I’m not taking bets that breastfeeding will work the same way again.

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Information About The Author:

AUTHOR BIO: Shannon R writes at The Artful Mama and is Co-editor of Natural Parents Network’s Reviews and Giveaways. She writes about her choices in natural parenting as a working parent to a toddler and soon to be new baby.

 

A Recommendation For The Humble Condom

Continuing on the Contraceptive Options series, today we have Lauren sharing with us why her and hubby, Sam, love using condoms. Lauren writes at Hobo Mama and is co-founder of the Natural Parents Network, and it’s a huge honour for me to be hosting her interesting (and amusing) post.  I hope you enjoy it too!

I would like to present to you … the condom.

Not any particular condoms, either, just male condoms in general.

I’d like to recommend them to you for their consideration as a birth-control method for male-female sexual couples interested in preventing pregnancy, due to their many benefits:

  • Condom Embroidery Hoop ArtEconomical — in my own comparisons with other birth-control methods, condoms are a frugal choice.
  • Compatible — since they’re non-hormonal, you can use them while breastfeeding or in preparation for trying to conceive, and they won’t interfere with tracking your cycle.
  • Convenient — less mess. Don’t make me over-explain that.
  • Easy — less chance of user error than remembering to take a pill every day at the same time or schedule an appointment for a shot or other procedure. I mean, yes, some prep is needed, but that’s what practice is for.
  • Effective — somewhere around 90-98%. More on that later, but suffice it to say — no “oops” babies here so far!
  • Reversible — want another baby? You got it.

Now, obviously male condoms are also a great choice for preventing (potential or known) sexually transmitted diseases, so if you know you need to use condoms with your partner, then keep on keeping on. I also cannot guide you if you need to use a particular method of birth control for medical reasons. This article’s more for people in a committed male-female relationship who want to prevent pregnancy, are monogamous, and could or do use a different method of birth control but could consider condoms instead.

OK, so, my back story. This is firmly in the TMI category, but you knew that going in, yes? And using “going in” right there just made me giggle. Ah, writing about sex…

I started out my marriage on the birth control pill. I have severe acne, and one thing dermatologists loved to prescribe me was antibiotics. The antibiotics gave me a recurring yeast infection. And I do mean recurring. It turned out part of the reason was that my husband Sam and I were passing it back and forth to each other. Whoops! So my gynecologist told me we should start using condoms to protect each other.

Now, I have to explain that Sam and I come from a rather conservative religious background, and condoms were just not the done thing. Condoms were for … well, loose people. It took having them “prescribed” to me by a doctor for us to feel comfortable buying and using them. That seems quaintly squeamish in retrospect, but so it was. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to even mention this, but maybe it will help someone else also feel comfortable considering them.

It took awhile for Sam to get used to the difference in sensitivity, but once he did there were no problems. In fact, if you want sex to last longer (hint, hint), a condom can slow things down a little if the man’s not used to them. But, seriously, Sam doesn’t really even notice the difference now, and I never felt a difference (yes, even with those “ribbed for her pleasure” varieties), so if you or your man has tried condoms and found them awkward, give it at least several occasions before you rule them out. Think of it as an experiment. For science. Really test it out.

So, anyway, we used condoms off and on when I was having my little flare-ups due to my medication. The turning point, though, was when Sam got laid-off, we had to buy our own health insurance, and I started to reevaluate the cost of all of our medical care. Which brings me to Point #1:

ECONOMICAL

Ed Note: In the UK, health care is free to residents, so doctor’s visits fees for contraceptives don’t apply, nor do the cost of the contraceptives. Condoms can be bought over the counter, and are quite expensive, but if you’re really hard up – no pun intended – you can get them free from your local clinic. I know ours will give you up to 30 free condoms every 90 days. (I just saw the sign on the door. Really.)

I compared birth control pills to condoms and realized even my generic pill on tri-monthly mail order was costing me about $0.50 a pop, plus doctor’s visits every six months for a refill at around $90 a visit. Assuming I would still go to the doctor yearly (or, ahem, every other year … or so) for a checkup if I weren’t on the pill, let’s add only $90 a year to the cost of pills, which makes the per-item cost more like $0.75. You can easily find condoms at drugstores and supermarkets in bigger packs that run about $0.50 a condom. If you don’t mind a little further searching, we were able to find condoms at Big Lots (unexpired, major brands) and on Amazon for more like $0.22 a condom or as low as $0.11 apiece. So, assuming we weren’t having sex multiple times every day (and, true confessions here, we weren’t), condoms were a lot more economical a decision. And just think, if you know the exact cost, you can decide how much sex is worth to you at any given opportunity. “Not tonight, honey. I’d rather save the 11 cents.” (In case you’re wondering, I also switched from dermatologically prescribed acne methods to over-the-counter ones that were cheaper and more effective. Funny how that works.)

If you’re using a different medical type of pregnancy prevention, your costs will vary, depending on how your insurance treats the visit, what the cost is for the procedure, and how often you need to see a health professional. Apparently, for instance, an IUD runs about 5-0 every five or ten years (depending on the type). Let’s say Sam and I have sex three times a week (yes, let’s say that, since it ain’t happening with a young baby right now) — over the course of five years, with the cheapest condoms, that would be $85.80. Ten years would still be cheaper than an IUD, at $171.60 See? Cheap. Now, if you can get reimbursed or deduct the cost of healthcare, that might mitigate the financial factor, since condoms are not considered a medical purchase. You’ll have to weigh out all the options for yourself and your family’s budget.

COMPATIBLE

When I was trying to decide on a breastfeeding-friendly birth control, going back to condom use was a no-brainer. Since they’re an entirely non-hormonal barrier method, there’s no interference with milk supply and no transference to the baby. If you need a hormonal method, your doctor or midwife can point you toward hormonal methods that work better with breastfeeding, but I personally didn’t want to risk it. There are also other barrier methods, but the benefits of condom usage for me outweigh the other methods.

I also appreciated condoms when we were preparing for conception, which was incidentally around the same time as I stopped using my birth control pills for other reasons. As I weaned off the pills, I was able to see my true cycle emerging and I began to take my morning basal body temperature and chart my fertility symptoms. It was fascinating to me to see what my true fertility cycle was like. That honestly is the biggest factor in my not returning to a hormonal method of birth control. I hate the idea of masking my cycles again. I don’t know if this is simply an emotional reason, because I was happy enough on hormonal birth control before, but since becoming a mother, it’s been brought home to me how delightful and intriguing is the cycle of ovulation and bleeding, and I enjoy seeing it unfold as it’s meant to. I mean, I don’t enjoy every moment, but I don’t feel like interfering with it anymore. This is a personal thing, I do understand!

If you’re on other medications, you might find a barrier method a better fit for you as well. For instance, that combo of antibiotics and birth control pills? Not really a good one, after all. If you’re on any other treatments along with hormonal birth control, be sure to ask about any incompatibilities.

CONVENIENT

I seriously love how condoms make cleanup easy. And, here, just to extend the please-stop-talking-now factor, they can be beneficial when having sex during a period. Just saying.

EASY

Condoms come with instructions printed on the box. Follow the instructions. You’ll be fine. They’re cheap, so you can afford to throw one or two away as you learn.

Follow the warnings, too. Don’t put them on inside out. (Learning the difference between inside out and right side out was our steepest learning curve.) Don’t reuse them. Be cautious when taking them off — let the man grasp the edge before withdrawing and hold it on. And that’s about it.

Somewhat related, I’ve heard the Diva Cup and other menstrual cups can be incompatible with some women’s IUDs, which would be my next choice in birth control if I didn’t heart condoms so much. To me, that’s reason enough to stick with condoms, because making my period easy is worth it to me.

EFFECTIVE

When Sam and I were first comparing birth control effectiveness, condoms were way down our list because of some reported effectiveness rates of 85 percent or so. That’s a huuuuge window of potential failure. Well, it turns out there are two types of birth control statistics: There’s what would happen in a lab, and what happens in the real world. The reason real-world condom effectiveness stats are sometimes laughably low is because people get to self-report their method of birth control. So, a person gets pregnant and is asked, “What’s your method of birth control?” She says, “Condom,” and that gets reported as a condom failure, even if she didn’t use a condom for the act where she got pregnant. So a more reliable effectiveness rating for unexpired condoms that are properly used and used every time would be around 98%. A lot depends on user error, in other words, rather than true condom failure. We’ve never had a condom break; only a few times have we had a slippage moment when withdrawing, and for only one of those times was pregnancy a concern. (This was very recently, just after the birth of our second son, and seemed to be the universe laughing at us for having finally stolen a moment to get it on.) I know you can’t go with what one person’s experience is with condoms as to their effectiveness, but all I can say is we got pregnant right away not using them.

12 Durex Maximum Love Condoms NEW! Larger and Thinner Condom for more Sensitivity and Sensation

You can add spermicide or use spermicidal condoms to boost the effectiveness factor, though for us that wasn’t an option, as Sam was allergic to the spermicide most commonly available in the US. (Speaking of allergies, if latex is a problem, there are non-latex condoms available.) We had a really tough time finding an alternate spermicide and gave up — with no unforeseen consequences to show for it. Then again, we are in a committed relationship and know we could handle having a baby at an unexpected moment, so remember to follow all condom precautions and consider spermicide if you’re very worried.

REVERSIBLE

Another huge plus to me about condoms is they’re immediately reversible. Some hormonal methods, particularly injections like Depo Provera, can take a loooong time to clear your system and return your fertility. (I once used injections and had major hormonal withdrawal coming off them, with bizarre bleeding patterns.) Whereas, with condoms, if you want to try for another baby, you can do so on the turn of a dime. Which is, incidentally, exactly what we did rather spontaneously for our second baby — once again, we got pregnant our first try.

So there it is. I wanted to speak up for a method Sam and I have found enjoyable and beneficial to us, in case anyone else is in the same “condoms are icky” category we were in when we first married! Or, even if you’re more mature than that, if you’ve just never seriously considered condoms as a feasibility, give them another thought. They’re plenty easy, way cheap, and have low interference with your body other than just catching those determined little swimmers.

Have you used condoms? What do you like and not like about them?


Hobo FamilyLauren blogs at Hobo Mama about natural and attachment parenting and is the co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She lives and writes in Seattle with her husband, Sam, four-year-old son, Mikko, and nine-month-old baby, Alrik.

Common Myths About Real Nappies

I’ve been using real nappies on my daughter since she was around 4 weeks old, and I love them, so much so that I’m a now real nappy advisor in my local area!  I often end up chatting to other mums about nappies when they hear what I do, and there are some common misconceptions that seem to crop up again and again.Read more: Common Myths About Real Nappies

A Birth Story

Last week I had the most amazing opportunity to assist a friend of mine in the birth of her second son. I was really only meant to be there to keep her first born occupied, but it turned into an absolutely amazing and powerful experience for me too. It was rather incredible, being on the other side of birth, this time. Herewith Nadia’s story, as told by her:

Read more: A Birth Story

Our Journey to Natural Birth Control – Natural Family Planning As Contraception

Today we have Maggie, a friend and reader, who shares her experience of ‘natural family planning’, including Ecological Breastfeeding and Lactational Amenorrhea.

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Fertility Awareness Contraception Method: A Primer

Another awesome guest post today, this time from the amazing Amy, a work from home Momma to one fabulous son, Daniel. Amy writes about the things she holds close to her heart: family, delicious food, and many aspects of natural parenting. She is passionate about natural childbirth, breastfeeding, gentle, intuitive parenting, and respecting all people, no matter how small. She’s figuring it all out as she goes, following her instincts with her son as her guide. Amy writes at Anktangle. Today, she shares with us her experience of Fertility Awareness as a means of contraception and family planning.

My first exposure to Fertility Awareness (FA) as a method for planning or preventing pregnancy was through attending Catholic school starting in sixth grade. Part of my health education in high school was to learn about the female reproductive cycle and how to read and interpret its signs to help prevent unplanned pregnancy, or to achieve pregnancy when desired (after marriage, of course).

The Fertility Awareness method is also called Natural Family Planning (NFP), but it is not to be confused with the Rhythm Method, which is what people usually think of when they hear this method mentioned. Unlike FA or NFP, the Rhythm Method is a completely calendar-based method which assumes every woman has a 28 day cycle. It uses counting the days of the cycle to know when to abstain from intercourse (during the assumed fertile time) in order to prevent pregnancy.

When I learned about Fertility Awareness in depth in nursing school, I was completely fascinated by the fact that simply by paying attention to changes in cervical mucus (CM) and tracking basal body temperature (BBT), women can quite accurately know when they are ovulating. The FA method works best for women who have regular cycles (which don’t vary a lot in length from month to month) and also who have no other concerns when it comes to their reproductive health (like PCOS, trouble with infertility, etc).

Other Benefits of the Fertility Awareness Method Include:

  • Effective pregnancy prevention without the use of hormonal birth control or other more invasive contraceptive methods;
  • Ovulation prediction without the need to use anything like an over-the-counter ovulation prediction kit (OPK);
  • Effective as a combination method to use with other contraceptive measures (particularly barrier methods like condoms or a diaphragm and spermicides, which do not interfere with ovulation).

Fortunately, whether you’re trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy, the technique is the same: monitor BBT once per day (when you first wake up in the morning, before getting up) and notice changes in cervical mucus throughout your cycle. If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, you will need to either abstain from intercourse or use a backup contraceptive method (like a barrier and/or spermicide) during your fertile time. If you are trying to achieve pregnancy, FA will help you to know when you are ovulating, which is the best time to have intercourse if you want to get pregnant.

The changes in CM and BBT are all due to various hormonal shifts in the body. Here’s a representation of the ups and downs of different hormones throughout the cycle (Credit: Early-Pregnancy-Tests.com):

 

How to Measure Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Keep a thermometer and a BBT chart (or a pad of paper and a pen) by your bed. (Here’s a free, printable BBT chart from Baby Center, or if you want to use an easy online source, I can recommend Fertility Friend.) When you first wake up, take your temperature and write it down (or chart it). Always take your temperature via the same route (whether you choose orally, rectally, or vaginally) to get consistent results. I always took mine orally—why go to the extra hassle, I figured.

You will notice that for the days of your cycle before you ovulate, your BBT will stay pretty consistent (within a range which is normal for you). On the day you ovulate, you may notice a slight drop in your BBT, and then there will be a sharp incline the day after you ovulate. If the egg isn’t fertilized during this cycle, your BBT will fall again just before you get your period, which begins your next cycle. This is what a typical cycle looks like for me (my temperatures don’t usually have a very wide range like a lot of women, though my chart still follows the typical pattern):

The vertical dotted line denotes Ovulation day, the CM rowshows both menses and CM changes throughout the cycle

Because the increase in the BBT doesn’t happen until after you ovulate, it is best used in combination with checking cervical mucus to predict your fertile period. Sperm usually live for only 3 days, but can live for upwards of 5-7 days (if the conditions are favorable). An ovum usually will live for about 24 hours. You can use those numbers to determine that the longest possible fertile period is 8 days (7 days of sperm lifespan + 1 day of egg lifespan). If you’re using FA to avoid pregnancy, you’ll need to abstain from intercourse or use a barrier method for 3-5 days before you ovulate (depending on how risky you want to be), and also 3 days after you ovulate (for a total of 6-8 days of preventing pregnancy during each cycle). During the rest of your cycle, there’s no need to use any contraceptive methods, because you are no longer in your fertile period, and thus, the possibility of pregnancy is eliminated.

If the egg is fertilized after ovulation, your BBT will stay high as it was just after you ovulated. If your chart looks like that and you’ve missed your period, it’s likely that you’re pregnant. Here is my chart from the month I got pregnant with Daniel:

See the little plus sign? Yep, I was pregnant!(Also, notice the implantation spotting on 6 days post-ovulation)

 

How to Monitor Cervical Mucus

During the fertile period of the reproductive cycle, the mucus the cervix produces changes from clear and thin or creamy to thick and sticky (resembling egg whites). The term “egg white cervical mucus” (EWCM) is used to describe this thick, stretchy mucus that accompanies ovulation. Just before ovulation, the amount of EWCM will be at its greatest (providing a favorable environment for sperm to live). If you put a bit of EWCM between your fingers, you will be able to stretch it. (This all may sound a little gross, but once you become more familiar with your body’s cycle, it won’t seem unusual to be checking cervical mucus.)

Cervical Mucus can be monitored one of two ways: by inserting the fingers into the vagina to retrieve some mucus, or by simply observing the mucus that is wiped away when using the toilet. Either way, noticing the changes in the CM can help you to know when your fertile time is getting near.

Here’s a helpful visual representation of the changes in CM throughout the cycle (Credit: Planned Parenthood):

Another thing women can monitor while checking cervical mucus is the position of her cervix. Just before ovulation, the cervix generally is in a lower position in the vagina than during the parts of the cycle where a woman is not fertile. This is something you’ll have to get to know over time: If you’ve never felt your cervix before, you might not know what its current position is relative to other points in your cycle.

Personal Experience

I have used the FA method for several years, both to avoid and achieve pregnancy. My partner and I effectively used this method before I became pregnant with our son, and when we were ready to become parents, I was already familiar with my cycle, and we knew when the best time was to try to get pregnant. We were lucky enough to get pregnant during the first cycle we were not preventing pregnancy. In the interim between giving birth to Daniel and getting my cycle back,we consistently used barrier methods, since we weren’t comfortable enough with the efficacy of lactational amenorrhea at preventing pregnancy. (I believe it was a smart decision for us, since my fertility returned at seven months postpartum, despite the fact that I had been breastfeeding on demand and co-sleeping.) Now we are using the FA method again (to prevent pregnancy) and have been ever since my cycle returned.

Things I like about FA:

  • I’ve gotten to know my body better through using this method. It’s gotten to the point where I’m always aware of what stage of my cycle my body is in, and I like having that information.
  • As someone who loves empirical data, I enjoy the charting aspect of FA. I like knowing I’m able to have more information about what’s going on in my body, and track it from month to month to see the patterns emerge.
  • This method doesn’t alter my body chemistry in any way; it works with what my body is doing naturally. I never liked the idea of taking hormonal birth control, and I also wasn’t a fan of how it made me feel.
  • It’s nearly free, costing only the price of a thermometer.
  • It can be taught to women in developing countries as an effective method of controlling family size.

Things I don’t like about FA:

  • It’s not great for people who don’t have a regular cycle (which doesn’t vary much in length). For a while after I stopped taking hormonal birth control, my cycle was very irregular and I was unable to confidently use the FA method during that time.
  • It can be hard to remember to consistently take your temperature at the same time every morning. Hopefully after a while, it becomes routine, but at first it can be hard to think of doing when you’re groggy first thing in the morning.
  • Taking your temperature every day can get annoying after a while. Remembering to do it, writing down the temperature (on paper or in a tracking system), etc. can feel like a little much month after month.
  • It’s not a good method for people who do shift work or who don’t have a regular sleep-wake schedule. FA works best for people who go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. When I used to work 7PM-7AM three nights per week, my data wasn’t as accurate because my sleep schedule wasn’t standard all the time.

Overall, I really like the Fertility Awareness method for family planning. FA is natural (no artificial hormones involved), economical, and highly effective. I’ve enjoyed being able to get to know my body better through practicing this method of pregnancy prevention.

Birth Control Options Overview

As you know, we’ve just had our second baby, and while pregnancy and childbirth have been possibly the two most incredible experiences in a pretty full and eventful life, Hyperemesis Gravidarum has dictated that I won’t be having any more babies. It’s just too strenuous on my body and my family.  Which means for the first time in four years I’m having to think of birth control again.

I was on the contraceptive pill until 2003 and had problems with complete lack of appetite for a number of years. I moved to the UK and went on a local tri-phasal contraceptive pill and gained three dress sizes in three months. As a result I have definite fears of going back onto a hormonal pill.

I’ve asked a few of my friends to share their experiences with birth control with us over the next few weeks, and today Jorje from Mama Jorje starts us off with an overview of the different types of birth control she’s used or researched.

Thanks Jorje!

——————–

I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my own research and experience.

Condoms

A large pile of condoms

Condoms are probably the most common form of barrier birth control. They’re available in different materials, sizes, and textures! I have never met a man that would prefer this form of birth control if they had any option at all. I only dated one man that didn’t seem to mind using condoms and I married him.

Conceptrol is a vaginal contraceptive gel. It is a spermicide you insert before sex. For even greater pregnancy prevention, you can use this gel in conjunction with condoms. I’m certain most men would prefer this gel to condoms (no numbness), but some men are allergic to Nonoxynol-9 (the spermicide).

I’m going to tell you from personal experience, you have to insert the gel before sex. Inserting it after sex is lazy and not nearly as effective. Yes, I’m speaking from experience here!

Hormonal Pills

This is, for me, what comes to mind when you hear “birth control.” I think of it as the most common form of birth control, although it doesn’t protect against any STDs. I was on hormonal birth control for a few years. There are an awful lot of side effects that can happen. You might gain weight, have headaches, acne, and mood swings. There are several versions on the market. The difference is in the specific hormones used and the amounts / balance of those hormones. There are pills on the market now that can limit your menses (period) to 4 times per year or less!

My general opinion after being on birth control pills, especially as a bit of a hippie, is that it is not nice to mess with Mother Nature. I understand some medical problems may need to be treated with hormones, but otherwise… I don’t think we should mess with hormones.

Pulling Out

This would technically be called coitus interruptus. There is some debate over whether pre-ejaculate contains sperm and can result in pregnancy, but no studies have shown this to be the case. There have not been many studies, though. The usual problem is not pulling out in time.

Depo-Provera® (The Injection)

In my early 20s, Depo-Provera was new on the market. My best friend and I decided to give it a “shot,” so to speak. This product is from Pfizer and is an injection. One shot provides hormonal birth control for 3 months. We both experienced the same results: absolute disinterest in sex. Neither of us wanted our husbands to touch us at all. So… it worked great as a contraceptive! No sex = no baby. Shoot, by that logic, it even protects against STDs! I sincerely doubt Depo-Provera gave all women the same issue. Since it is hormonal, I suspect you might experience the same side effects listed under hormonal pills above.

I never went back for any further shots, but my friend did. She thought maybe it was just an initial problem, but she continued to experience disinterest in sex for an additional three months after her second shot.

Years later I participated in a medical study for women with sexual dysfunction. There was some suspicion that some of my problem (not achieving orgasm) may have been a result of having used this product.

Essure®

After having Sasha 2 years ago, we decided we were done having children. I researched Essure as a fairly new permanent birth control on the market. Here is the (very) basic rundown: The doctor goes in through your cervix and places 2 small pieces of metal that look very much like the springs out of ink pens into the openings of your fallopian tubes. Over a month or so, your fallopian tube grows to the metal, closing off the tubes with scar tissue. Then the doctor goes back in, using fluid and x-ray, to make sure your tubes are successfully completely closed.

This procedure is considered even less invasive than vasectomy. It seems a little invasive to me, but considering that they don’t have to cut you at all, I can see how it would be considered non-invasive.

I went for the preliminary appointment and had one problem with the process. They wanted to give me several drugs before the procedure. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with the drugs they wanted to give me, but I was breastfeeding. The office assured me that the drugs were fine for nursing mothers, but I’m very selective and restrictive about drugs, especially when pregnant or nursing.

After deciding against Essure (until later, at least), I opted for an IUD.

Mirena®

Paragard® IUD

This is my ParaGard® IUD after removing it myself at home.

There are two IUDs on the market. The first and most commonly used IUD is the Mirena, which is hormonal. An IUD is a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix and provides time release hormones for 5 years. You can have it removed at any time and get pregnant just as quickly as you could if you were on any other hormonal birth control. Considering the hormone angle, I knew this was not the product for me.

During my research, I found a lot of women felt a lot of negative emotions while this IUD was in place. Some women were so desperate to be rid of it that they remove the IUD themselves at home.

ParaGard®

The second IUD available is also a small plastic “T” that sits in your cervix. This one, however, is wrapped in copper and hormone-free. Because there are no hormones, you can start trying to conceive the same day it is removed. It can also last up to 10 years!

We later decided we wanted to try to conceive one more child, preferably a boy. After some online research (see Mirena above), we agreed I would attempt to remove this IUD myself at home. I’m sure any doctor would strongly advise against this! It took me about 5 seconds!

Lactation

The idea with this form of birth control is that it is nature’s way of spacing babies. While lactating, you are presumably not menstruating. This is not, however, fool proof. Your ovulation cycle can return before your first menses. It is absolutely possible to conceive while breastfeeding.

Natural Family Planning

I’ve practiced this one, but used it more in an effort to convince my ex-husband to try to conceive a son. The basis here is to monitor your cycle and your body to determine when, exactly, you ovulate. You can conceive several days before through several days after ovulation. I charted my menses and mucous on my cervix. You can find several programs, books and charts out there to help you track your data. Natural Family Planning is not just a form of preventing pregnancy, but also a system to use when trying to conceive. Controlling birth doesn’t necessarily mean preventing it, right?

Vasectomy

This is a commonly known permanent form of birth control. Generally, the man is given some Valium to calm his nerves prior to the procedure. He is then given a topical numbing shot in the testicles. The doctor then makes a very small incision (or two) through which he finds the vas deferens (the tube that transports sperm). He then snips and removes a small section of the tube.

I was amazed when my husband volunteered to have this procedure, since he had previously been against it. There are lots of horror stories out there, but the procedure is really not that bad! Men just have a tendency to “talk it up.” He had to refrain from sex for about 5 days while he healed. You will also be advised to use a secondary form of birth control for 2-3 months until all sperm are cleared from your system. At that time, you’ll take a semen sample to a lab to be tested for sperm content. If you still have a normal amount of sperm, you may have to repeat the procedure.

Vasectomies are considered permanent, but they are reversible.

Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation seems to be very common among women who are having a cesarean section. It is very convenient to have your “tubes tied” while the doctor already had you cut open. This form of permanent birth control is much more invasive than a vasectomy because they have to cut further into a woman. The doctor makes two incisions, then severs the fallopian tubes.

NuvaRing and Wedding Rings

NuvaRing® (+wedding bands)

Tubal ligation is considered permanent, but it is reversible.

There are a few more hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods available on the market. You can find out more through your personal doctor or Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of which form of birth control you choose, I sincerely recommend you research possible side effects. Even if you don’t think there are side effects with your chosen form, research it. There may be issues that hadn’t occurred to you.

 

 

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Check back again over the next few weeks as other contributors share their experiences with some of these methods of contraception.

On Traveling With Children – Matt Rudd

I’ve written some pretty deep and serious posts over the past couple of weeks, so I thought today would share something a little lighter with you. If you’re a Sunday Times reader, you might recognise the name Matt Rudd. Well, today Matt has written a guest post for me on one of my favourite topics – traveling with children. You only have to peruse our travel section to see that it’s something we do A LOT, and Matt’s (slightly abandoned) blog made me smile – I don’t know that many people who road trip around Europe with children! Matt was once the Deputy Travel Editor for the Sunday Times, and is a pretty seasoned traveller himself, so you can see where we have things in common. A major difference between Matt and I, however, is that he is funny! I can’t write funny, but he does. I hope you enjoy his post! (By the way, Matt has written two novels about family life: William Walker’s First Year of Marriage and William’s Progress, two children and a wife must be great inspiration!)
Read more: On Traveling With Children – Matt Rudd

Refuting the Cons of Elimination Communication (Part 2)

In part 1, Rebekah from Thoughtful Momma talks about how few cons there are to Elimination Communication. Today she carries on refuting the negatives:

Let’s move on to the second “con” that is often brought to my attention: The idea that it might be messy or perhaps just plain unsanitary. It absolutely amazes me how many people think EC is actually just parents allowing their kids to poop all over the place without doing anything about it (um, ew?).
Read more: Refuting the Cons of Elimination Communication (Part 2)