I had someone email me recently who was just getting into fertility charting. She isn’t the first one that asks this, in fact the common question I hear when introducing charting to women is “Where do I start???” SO I decided to do a post strictly on what an “NFP starter kit” would include.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
This is truly the bible to charting your fertility. Sometimes witty, fluidly written, and descriptive without being too science heavy, every beginner should read this. I still refer back to this book when I’m stuck on something.
Charts, Charts, Charts
There are free printable charts everywhere online. Although I went straight to digital charting, I’ve heard it’s helpful to start on paper. If you’re comfortable starting digital, figure out which platform you find most natural to you. I liked OvuView when I had a droid, but boy I LOVE having Kindara. For one, my charts can be accessed not only online, but also on my fiance’s phone. Kindara imported all of my OvuView charts and does daily reminders throughout the day.
BBT (Basal Body Temp) Thermometer
“Basal” sounds like “down there” but no. Just no. The only difference between a BBT thermometer and one from the dollar store is that the BBT one is more accurate. Now if you want to go down there, you can, but it’s not necessary for most women.
If you want to use Ovulation Predictor strips, Amazon! You can get them for a FRACTION of what you would in a store. I don’t use them, but have found women that find them really useful. (PS this is the same for pregnancy tests, for those trying to get pregnant. Much cheaper online!)
I started using this a couple months ago, it’s actually really useful. It seriously looks like a tube of lipstick – it’s a simple saliva test and I only use it during phase 2. It’s just one more sign for insight of when phase 2 starts and ends. They’re a little pricy ($30) but it’s reusable and lasts indefinitely (at least, until the battery dies).
Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition
So after you’ve been charting for the first few months, unless you’re an insanely lucky and healthy person, chances are you’ll notice a few glitches in your charts. Why is phase 3 so short? Why are temperatures so low? Why don’t I see a temp shift? This book helps navigate those problems and at least gives you a starting point of how to address them.
Shop for an instructor
Now after you’ve gotten all read up and maybe have even started a chart or two, I can not stress enough the importance of an instructor. That second opinion makes a world of difference. Most instructors are willing to work with your budget and they want to see you succeed. If you don’t feel like your instructor is someone that you can be frank and sincere with, don’t settle. You need to be able to share both successes and struggles. You can go through your local diocese to get a Catholic instructor, or there’s plenty of secular instructors online.
Lastly, learn the jargon. When I first got into this I was like “WHAT is with all the abbreviations??” Once you learn them, they read as normal.
NFP/FAM – Natural family planning / fertility awareness method
TTC – trying to conceive
TTA – trying to avoid
AF – aunt flo
CD# – cycle day 3, 17, etc
CF (or CM) – cervical fluid or mucous (I’m more partial to fluid)
BF – breastfeeding
AO – anovulation
B/W – bloodwork
BCP or ABC – birth control pills or artificial birth control
O – ovulation
P+3 – Peak plus however many days