Sara has been a registered nurse for the past 22 years, wife to Nathan for the past 13 ½ and mom to 3 little- but not so little anymore- ladies who are 11, 9, and 6. She worked at the children’s hospital in Atlanta for 10 years caring for chronically sick children and teaching, eventually “retiring” after working a year in the PACU (recovery room) to be a stay at home mom. She began teaching the Marquette Method in 2011 locally, and in 2013 ventured into online teaching. She loves traveling (you may find my #nfponthego posts occasionally) shopping, bike riding and passing on her love for adventure to her kids. You can connect with her here: Website | Facebook | Instagram
1 What made you want to become a Marquette Method instructor?
When I was in college at Franciscan University I was introduced to Theology of the Body. As I learned more about it, I learned how Natural Family Planning was a practical approach to living out these beautiful teachings in marriage and allows couples to give the most beautiful complete gift to each other. As a nurse this appealed to me on a practical level and this began the desire to one day teach NFP, “once I learned to use it successfully” I said to myself.
In preparing for Marriage in 2006, I went to an “NFP” class that turned out to be the Marquette Method. I did zero research on other methods and feel very lucky that I learned this one since at the time it was really new. After my second daughter was born and I needed to stop working in the hospital, I knew it was time to start the program to become an instructor in the fall of 2010. By that point, I had had 3 planned pregnancies (1 was a miscarriage), successfully using the method and proving all the naysayers wrong!
2 What was the process like to learn to become an instructor? What were the costs (time, money, etc.)?
Marquette training is done using an online learning program, and prospective instructors must be certified medical professionals (doctor, nurse, PA, etc.). At the time it was set up in 2 semesters, the fall was the core course and in the winter I began to teach clients, completing the teacher training at the end of the spring semester. The cost for training was $1500 at the time. Now, it is a self paced online course that you can find out more about here. Instructors are required to complete training for 10 clients, complete 2 case studies, and have your preceptor view your class.
3 Can you briefly describe the way this method works in light of the particular biomarkers it tracks?
The Marquette Method (MM) is a custom-fit research-based method of fertility tracking used to either avoid or achieve pregnancy. Instructors are trained in all of the research-based tracking methods of fertility awareness, and can apply a combination of fertility indicators to best fit your needs. MM has protocols for tracking basal body temperature, LH sticks and Progesterone sticks, and simple mucus observations, while the method is most well known for using hormone monitoring via ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor. It also employs a simple calculation based on previous cycle peak days which helps to make the rules to avoid pregnancy more objective and takes a lot of the guesswork out of determining when to begin the fertile window.
4 What are the main reasons you’ve encountered for why women choose this method? Is there any area you think this method particularly excels? Can improve?
There are four big categories of people who gravitate to this method.
First, a lot of people find the MM because it has a simple post partum protocol for the very confusing interim when fertility is returning. Women like the objectivity of the monitor readings, taken first thing in the morning so they don’t have to think about fertility signs throughout the day. Many continue to use it beyond postpartum because of the objectivity it gives in determining the fertile and infertile phases of the cycle.
Second, women with very little mucus find the method helpful because they don’t have to depend on their mucus signs to determine the fertile window. Without enough mucus warning, they aren’t able to block off enough days of abstinence pre-peak to avoid pregnancy, making the algorithm for when to begin the fertile window more accurate, since sperm can live for 5 days in the presence of mucus, even if it isn’t visible.
Third, women with continuous mucus often have difficulty interpreting mucus changes, leading to extended periods of abstinence and frustration. Using the monitor readings in conjunction with the algorithm to determine the fertile window allows women to ignore the excess mucus and more days become available.
Finally, couples who like objective data and more data points (I meet a lot of engineers!) like the method because there is less guess work with interpreting somewhat subjective signs of fertility and a monitor that tells them what is going on. Men like the monitor because it tells them what is going on since they can’t observe the mucus signs. These couples also appreciate the loads of research that support the efficacy of the method.
The one group of people who may or may not find the most comfort with the MM method are those with PCOS or long cycles because the protocol can require a lot of abstinence. The hormone testing does help give cues as to the root causes of these problems, and I’ve found that women appreciate learning about their fertility using different biomarkers. Women with these cycle issues are encouraged to seek medical advice for treatment options.
5 How has being an instructor enhanced your understanding of your own fertility and/or faith?
Teaching NFP over the past 9 years has kept me grounded in the reality of the 1- 2% rate of unintended pregnancy even with perfect use. I am often reminded of the complexity of marriage, and that the decisions to “avoid” or “achieve” pregnancy are never quite that simple. Everyone’s journey is so different. I don’t take it lightly that people choose to share such an intimate detail of their life with me and am often privileged to be the first person a couple shares the news of a positive pregnancy test with. Teaching NFP has given me the opportunity to see faith in God’s plan lived out in total surrender in many different ways from helping a couple learn and practice abstinence to accepting God’s plan for a new life and challenging my trust in God as well.
6 What resources can you share for women interested in learning more about this method? Communities, books, websites, etc.