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Fertilty Awareness Method Could Help You Get Pregnant

Women’s health expert Katinka Locascio gets us up to speed on our cycles.

Fertilty Awareness Method Could Help You Get Pregnant

If you’ve spent a large part of your ovulating years on birth control (you’re not alone), the prospect of getting pregnant might be the first time you’ve ever really thought about your cycle. And the first time you’ve realized how little you actually know about it. In this case, ignorance is not bliss -- when it comes to your fertilty, the more you know about your body, the better. Understanding your cycle can be a powerful step towards getting pregnant -- or ensuring you don’t.

To get us up to speed, we turned to Katinka Locascio, women’s health expert and founder of Earth + Sky Healing Arts in NYC. The licensed massage therapist, doula and cranial sacral therapist has spent much of her career exploring and advocating for the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), not only for helping to achieve pregnancy, but also for birth control, and addressing other health and hormonal issues.

“Connecting with your cycle, and becoming more aware of how your lifestyle impacts your [health] symptoms is really empowering,” she says. “It gives a woman a much deeper understanding of her body and how everything is connected.”

Now pregnant with her second child, Katinka recently invited us into her Long Island City studio for a primer Fertilty Awareness Method and shared a 3-step plan to get us started on the FAM path.

So what is Fertility Awareness Method?

Well first let me tell you what its not. It not the "rhythm method." Its not assuming you ovulate on day 14, or have a regular cycle. FAM is a way for a woman to know each day whether she's potentially fertile by observing two basic fertility signals: basal body temperature and cervical fluid.

And the elevator pitch of how to do it?

To practice FAM, a woman takes her temperature before getting out of bed every morning, and takes note of her cervical fluid changes a few times a day. She records this info on her chart (either a paper chart or more commonly a fertility charting app). She can then apply a few simple rules to determine with accuracy when she's fertile. Its really about living with your fertility every day and knowing what's going on.

Why can FAM be a big asset to actually achieving pregnancy?

Many women don't actually ovulate on day 14, or have regular cycles, so being able to time sex correctly makes a big difference. If you are ovulating, your temperature is lower in the first half of your cycle and your cervical fluid increases. Right before ovulation, there's often a dip in the temperature and a peak in fertile cervical fluid (think eggwhites) that let you know when it’s best to plan sex. After ovulation, the temperature remains high for the rest of the cycle. If the temperatures don't, this could mean there's a problem with progesterone or with ovulation.

When a woman comes to me who have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for several months, her chart can helps us determine what imbalances might be going on so she knows what to work on. And women who have charted their cycles over many years can often spot and correct subtle shifts in their fertility well before they become a problem.

What abot using FAM as postpartum birth control?

I'll be honest, its not a great time to start FAM. Irregular sleep patterns can make it difficult to chart waking temperatures accurately, and postpartum hormones will affect cervical fluid, especially when breastfeeding.Women who do want to start at that time really should seek the guidance of a certified FAM teacher to help learn the method. That said, many women do learn FAM during that time and use it effectively. It’s really a personal preference -- no birth control is perfect.

How effective is FAM?

Studies showing the efficacy of FAM as birth control vary. Perfect use is often as high as 97-99%, on par with the pill. Typical use may drop to 85%. The biggest efficacy risk is the commitment it takes to act in accordance with information your chart gives you. One of the benefits of FAM is that many women find it puts them in touch with their libido, but as nature would have it, you want to have sex most when you are most fertile. So if you want to avoid getting pregnant, you have to be 100% committed to using another form of birth control during that time, or avoiding intercourse and getting creative. Still for many women, avoiding side effects of other forms of birth control or gaining an understanding of their hormonal health is worth the extra effort and attention it takes to practice FAM effectively.

Give us the 3-step plan to get started using FAM.

  1. Download an App. Kindara is my favorite charting app by far, and it has a great online resources to help you learn how to chart, you can even reach an expert through the app when questions come up. Then get a basal body thermometer (you can order WINK which syncs with your phone through Kindara or a regular basal body thermometer on amazon).
  2. Learn the method. There are two great books that I recommend: Katie Singer's the "Garden of Fertility," and Toni Weschler's "Taking Charge of your Fertility." We are also lucky to have the Fertility Awareness Center here in NYC so women or couples wanting to take a class can contact them.
  3. Chart your fertility signals for at least 3 cycles. Then find a teacher or someone to discuss your charts with so you know you understand them before deciding if its right for you as birth control. If you are breastfeeding, coming off the pill, have just been pregnant, or are approaching menopause it may take some time for you to be able to chart accurately enough to use the method as birth control, but you can learn a lot about your body in the process and that alone is worth the effort!

(Note: If you are on hormonal birth control of any kind, you aren't cycling so you need to come off if it before you start charting.)

Photography by Christina Emilie for Well Rounded NY.

 

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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