New natural family planning options are a natural fit for nurse-midwives

Washington, DC…In a paper published in the November issue of the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, researchers from Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health report that new highly effective, easy-to-use natural family planning methods are a good fit for the holistic healthcare approach practiced by nurse-midwives. Traditionally, natural methods have been under-represented among the family planning options offered to women by nurse-midwives because these methods require lengthy instruction and are difficult for many women to learn and use.

Nurse-midwifery is known for its holistic approach to the care of women, especially during labor and birth. Yet the vast majority of visits to certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives (CNMs/CMs) are for primary, preventive care including gynecologic care, annual exams and reproductive health visits, especially prenatal care. The midwifery model of care embraces a philosophy that all women have the right to complete and accurate information about their bodies and the health care services they receive; the right to make choices and decisions about their care; as well as the right to care that respects human dignity, individuality and diversity according to the American College of Nurse Midwives.

Offering natural family planning methods, also known as fertility awareness-based methods, to their clients fits well with the philosophy of nurse-midwives and the needs of the women they serve according to Victoria Jennings, Ph.D. senior author of the paper, Director of the Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and co-author Elaine Germano, CNM, DrPH, FACNM, a former Nurse-Midwifery Program Director at Georgetown University report.

"Our goal in developing new natural methods is to meet the needs of the many women who want to manage their own fertility without hormones or devices but without the burden of daily monitoring and charting required by older natural methods. These new methods are effective as well as easy to teach, learn and use. They fit well into busy midwifery practices and are truly a viable family planning option," said Dr. Jennings, an anthropologist who studies reproductive health behavior.

The two new natural family planning methods, developed by the Georgetown University researchers, are the Standard Days Method and the Two Day Method, which are 95% and 98% effective respectively – both more reliable than the diaphragm or condom.

The Standard Days Method is a simple, natural option that uses a visual tool called CycleBeads. These color-coded beads help a woman keep track of her cycle, know on which days she can get pregnant, and monitor the length of her menstrual cycle. The other – the Two Day Method – relies on the presence or absence of cervical secretions but does not require the analysis and charting of older natural methods.

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In a complementary paper published this summer in Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. Jennings and co-author Helain Landy, M.D. reported that although physicians play an important role in helping women choose appropriate contraception, many are not adequately trained in natural family planning.

About the Institute for Reproductive Health - The Institute for Reproductive Health is dedicated to helping women and men make informed choices about family planning and providing them with simple and effective natural options. As part of Georgetown University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Institute conducts research to develop natural methods of family planning and test them in service delivery settings.

About Georgetown University Medical Center - Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO).


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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