Fertility awareness methods (FAM) are family planning methods that are based on when a woman’s fertile days start and end. These methods require partner cooperation because couples must be committed to abstinence or use of another contraceptive method during the woman’s fertile days to prevent pregnancy.
In Liberia, many health workers don’t mention FAMs in family planning counseling sessions because they don’t know about them. JSI’s Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) project trained service providers to provide information about and access to FAMs so that clients would have more family planning options.
One of the midwives who benefited from trainings on fertility-based awareness methods is Bendu Wratto, who works in Sanniquellie, Northern Liberia. One day while Bendu was working at the G. W. Harley Hospital, a woman walked in the clinic seeking services. As Bendu talked with her client, she realized that client wanted to become pregnant—a change from most of Bendu’s clients, who wanted to prevent pregnancy.
Yet Bendu was not deterred by her client’s uncommon request because she had been trained to provide holistic reproductive health services and knew just what to do. Bendu asked her more questions, and surmised that the woman and her partner probably weren’t having sexual intercourse when the woman was ovulating. Bendu talked to her about various fertility awareness methods and the woman decided to try cycle beads.
Six months later, the client returned the hospital to see Bendu. This time she had come for antenatal services. Yes, family planning helped her to become pregnant! The cycle beads helped couple determine to when to try to become pregnant and they succeeded.
As part of the woman’s antenatal care, Bendu talked to her about the importance of healthy spacing between pregnancies and suggested family planning methods that the new mother could use to avoid becoming pregnant for at least two years.
Bendu’s experience with this client delighted her because, as she explained, “Now I can show that family planning is not just about preventing pregnancies, it is also about helping women become pregnant!”