Story by S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - The diocesan Family Life Office’s FertilityCare Center has been offering instruction in Natural Family Planning (NFP) since 1974. Since 1992, the focus of the FertilityCare Center has been training couples to use the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
The Creighton Model is easy for couples to learn when they have access to a trained practitioner. The diocese has several such practitioners, including some recent additions to the staff. Two of the new practitioners speak Spanish to instruct couples at Cristo Rey Parish in Lincoln.
The most recently hired Spanish-speaking Creighton Model practitioner intern is Ana Pelayo. She’s been a member of Cristo Rey for 25 years, and she said that she wanted to inform and serve the Hispanic community at her parish.
“I hope to be a good instrument of God in serving my community and making this program well-known and available.”
She explained that among the members of Cristo Rey who have moved to Nebraska from other countries, there is a range of familiarity with NFP.
“Some state that they have some notion, or heard something about NFP,” she said. “Others state that they are unfamiliar with it. It is new to them.”
Pelayo is eager to help these couples, as well as other members of Cristo Rey, embrace human fertility as God designed it. This task is not without its challenges, however.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “Most couples have been told by family members and doctors that NFP does not work.”
She continued, “The biggest challenge is convincing couples of the blessings of their fertility, and that the Creighton Model FertilityCare method does work.”
Pelayo said she tackles this challenge with prayer and patiently explaining how Creighton Model charting works.
To help her become a highly capable Creighton Model practitioner, the Diocese of Lincoln sent her for training at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. This is the same institute that developed the Creighton Model after nearly four decades of careful research. The Creighton Model is the first standardized system of menstrual and fertility cycle biomarkers that equips women to monitor and maintain gynecologic and reproductive health.
Pelayo completed an eight-day “total immersion” course at the Pope Paul VI Institute.
“We learned about the research, anatomy and physiology, how the Creighton Model works, and how to teach it,” she reported.
The Institute takes pains to make sure that Creighton Model practitioners and instructors are trained to coach couples through unusual circumstances that can affect ovulation, including breastfeeding, menopause, infertility, and anovulatory cycles. Students also learn about how artificial methods of contraception work, and the psychodynamics of contraception, NFP and human sexuality.
The Creighton Model takes into account the fact that every woman’s body is different. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, so Pelayo and the other diocesan Creighton Model practitioners work with couples one-on-two to learn the biomarkers of that particular woman’s fertility cycles.
Pelayo said she and Marilu Casares, the office's other Spanish-speaking Creighton Model practitioner, could also do a group introductory class at Cristo Rey. She wants more people to understand that the Creighton Model has many more benefits apart from achieving or avoiding pregnancy.
“The Creighton Model FertilityCare helps monitor women’s health,” she emphasized. “It’s not a birth control method.”
Based on her training, she strongly believes that learning the Creighton Model can help all women understand and monitor their reproductive health and to recognize any abnormality in a natural way, with no side effects that could damage their bodies.
Indeed, data collected through the Creighton Model can be used to identify and plan treatment for a number of health issues, including infertility, polycystic ovarian disease, abnormal bleeding and so on.
“We hope that more women will take advantage of this service,” Pelayo said.
The Diocese of Lincoln now has 18 trained Creighton Model practitioners spread out as far south as Falls City and as far west as North Platte.
Jennifer Svagera, B.S., F.C.P., is the new NFP coordinator for the diocese.
She said, “Every woman has a right and a responsibility to know and understand the way her body works. Natural Family Planning is morally and ethically sound, and the FertilityCare program we offer here in the diocese empowers women, strengthens marriages and maintains the divinely given integrity and dignity of the human person.”
To find a Creighton Model practitioner near you or to learn more about the diocesan FertilityCare Center, contact Jennifer at 402-473-0620.