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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.

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“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.

 

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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