Discerning Expanding Our Family


My wife, age 46, and I have faithfully practiced NFP for almost 20 years (although never formally trained), and we have been blessed with seven children, all born vaginally and without incident. After the seventh child was born, my wife became convinced (on her own) that another pregnancy & birth would jeopardize her health, and we’ve chosen to avoid pregnancy (successfully) since then.
Lately, she’s been having second thoughts about this. Last night, she wondered out loud if we should try to have another baby, later attributing her desire to, perhaps, a natural instinct as menopause approaches. She is in good health, although routinely low on energy from a full house and homeschooling! Also, her menstrual cylces remain regular.

In addition to prayer, how might we discern whether or not God is calling us to cooperate with Him in a new creation? Could He be doing so through her (and my) natural yearnings? Also, what does the Church teach regarding the decision to practice continence during the fertile period? From reading some of your answers to other questions, it appears to be a deeply personal decision based on a complex set of factors. We do not seem to meet any of the obvious justifications for avoiding pregnancy, other than, perhaps, the risk to my wife’s health because of her age.

Thank you.



Last Updated: November 15, 2021
First of all Tim, what a blessing that you have received the gift of seven children and have been faithfully practicing NFP for so long. As your question indicates, you and your wife both appear to approach the gift of fertility with much faith and trust in God and deep prayer.

My suggestions to your question are the following. Keep praying! Prayer is always essential in any discernment process. Continue to discuss this issue between yourselves in a spirit of trust and openness. Thanks be to God, your wife is in good health. I would encourage your wife to see her doctor to see if there are any real health concerns of which she should be aware. (If the doctor even hints at birth control or sterilization as possible remedies, kindly smile, thank him or her, and run out of there as fast as you can and find a new doctor who shares your Gospel values.) Also, although you have practiced NFP for many years, some formal training, especially in the moral and spiritual aspects of NFP, could be very helpful. I recommend finding a certified NFP trainer that is particularly knowledgeable about the health risks for women in their mid-forties. I am sure that CANFP can help you locate someone in your area.

Since your wife has been “wondering out loud” that perhaps you should try to have another baby, you should both take that into consideration in your prayer and discernment. Are you wondering the same thing? Your natural (physical and spiritual) yearnings, part of the gift of how God has created you male and female, will also help guide you in this process. However, our physical and spiritual desires must always be guided by reason and enlightened by grace. And God will always have a say in this anyway. Perhaps your desire to have another child is not His will; perhaps it is. So even if you optimize your chances to conceive, there are no guarantees. The one thing that NFP ensures, practiced of course according to God’s design and according to the mind of the Church, is that the married couple does nothing to intentionally thwart God’s will.

As regards your question about practicing continence during fertile periods, Humanae Vitae states in paragraph 16, “If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate births without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier”[in this Encyclical].

In your specific situation, if there were to emerge definite health risks for your wife, you would be morally justified in have recourse only to infertile periods. Also, depending on the ages and needs of your seven children, the energy level and health of your wife, and your duties (vocation) in home schooling, you may discern that you have legitimate serious motives and that conceiving another child may not be desirous at this time. These factors can and may fluctuate, causing you to revise your previous decisions. Remember, the Church calls parents to responsible parenthood, which both implies all aspects of fertility and being able to provide for the moral and physical wellbeing of themselves and of their current children. A helpful guiding principle to ensure that your recourse to infertile periods does not arise from any selfish motives at all, it would be advisable (and spiritually enriching) to practice periodic abstinence during both fertile and infertile periods.

Father Samuel W. Ward Pastor St. Raymond’s Downey, California

Answered By:

Fr. Samuel W. Ward
Fr. Sam Ward was ordained in 2003 as priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Currently, he is Pastor at St. Raymond Church in Downey, CA. Previously, Fr. Ward was Vocation Director and Pastor of St. Helen Church in South Gate, CA, and member of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

Read more related questions

Want to Use NFP, But Fearful if it Will Work for Me?

Hello I was referred to this website from my parish pastor. I am confused regarding birth control. I understand it is not approved by the…

Yellow Stamp Question

Hello, I am six months post-partum, and my Creighton Model instructor just recently moved me to yellow stamps because I am having consistent mucus discharge.…

How Do We Use NFP While Breastfeeding?

My wife and I would like to know how to successfully practice NFP during the nursing phase. We have been in NFP for six+ years…

Need Postpartum NFP Refresher

My name is Amanda and my husband and I are devout Catholics looking into starting NFP. I have 15-month-old boy/girl twins and just had another…

Is My Temp Accurate After Poor Sleep?

I am a breastfeeding mom of a 5 1/2 month old baby who just started rice cereal a week ago. I go to school full-time…

45 and Heavy Periods

I’m a 45 year old mother of six. My husband and I practice NFP. For a long time, my periods have been very heavy and…

Confused by Mucus and Temperature Conflicting

Hopefully you will be able to help me clarify my chart right now. I am nine months postpartum, and started cycling 37 days ago. I…

Serious Health Reasons to Avoid Pregnancy

Our 28-yr. old niece in CA is married with children aged three yrs. and another nine mos. She has always had irregular and difficult periods…

Am I Officially in Menopause?

I am 53 and have not had a period in 205 days (the one I had was very light bleeding). My temperature has not exceeded…

Continuous Mucus Post Partum

Hi, I am a fairly new user of NFP. I had my second baby six weeks ago and have been breastfeeding exclusively. For the past…

Can I Still Trust Temp in my 50’s

For 16 years I have been able to rely totally on my basal temperature for effective NFP. As I near 50, I am concerned peri-menopause…

No Mucus But Cervix High

I have a three month old son, and still trying to figure out how to practice NFP postpartum. I have been doing mucus checks and…

Create An Account

This is not a membership, this is an account for our CANFP website. If you decide you would like to sign up for one of our memberships later, you can do so with or without this account.

First Name *
Last Name *
E-mail *
Username *
Password *
Confirm Password *
Edit Profile
Order History
Shipping and Billing
Login Information
Notification Settings
Notification Subscriptions

CANFP conducts varied outreach programs to the community at large, in addition to serving our members (NFP users, teachers, and advocates).

CANFP provides education programs tailored to the audience, not only on Natural Family Planning, but on the wide variety of topics related to it.

Programs can be continuing education for NFP Professionals, introductory information for a lay audience of youth or adults new to the topic, or specifically tailored to the interests of a professional audience, such as educators, physicians, or clergy. Content is faith based or secular, whichever is suitable for situation.

CANFP offers a variety of resources for those just discovering Natural Family Planning, as well as to meet the varied needs of our CANFP Members. Most resources are available to any visitors to our site. Some resources do ask you to register as a site user in order to access them, others are available only to CANFP Members.

CANFP statewide conferences, regional events offered in collaboration with local partners, events featuring CANFP speakers, or exhbit, as well as other events throughout the state of interest to our NFP community.  Come meet one of our experts at one of these events or book a speaker for your own upcoming event.

CANFP depends on the gifts, talents, and generosity of our members and supporters. The success of our mission depends on the collaboration of our members. Please consider contributing your time treasure and talent through CANFP to share the good news of NFP with the world! Both volunteer and contracted positions available.

Stay informed by joining our email list

* indicates required
Which role(s) best describes you?