How (and Why) To Prevent Pregnancy if the SHTF

It’s a rare individual that doesn’t have a wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter or granddaughter that isn’t of childbearing age (say 13 to 50 year old).  Even if they aren’t related to you personally, they could be in your survival group.  Remember that, even if you have a little girl that’s 5 years old now, one day she will come of reproductive age.

In a long-term survival situation, society will be unstable and organized medical care will be spotty at best and nonexistent at worst.  When we reach the point that we are scrambling to survive, one of the least welcome events is one that, for many families, is ordinarily considered a blessing:  A pregnancy.  Further down the road, when and if society re-establishes itself, we will have the responsibility to repopulate the world.  Until that time, however, a pregnancy and the possible complications that accompany it will be a burden.

Pregnancy and Societal Collapse

So why is it important to prevent pregnancies in the early going of a societal collapse?   Well, we know that the death rate among pregnant women (also known as the Maternal Mortality Rate) at the time of the American Revolution was about 2-4% per pregnancy.  Given that the average woman in the year 1800 could expect an average of 6-10 pregnancies over the course of her reproductive life, the cumulative Maternal Mortality Rate easily approached 25 per cent.   That means that 1 out of 4 women died due to complications of being pregnant, either early, during the childbirth, or even soon after a successful delivery.

If a  collapse occurs, we might be faced with unacceptable levels of risk to our women because we won’t have either medicine or medical supplies in which treat pregnancy and childbirth complications.  There could be deaths simply because there are no IV fluids or medications to stop bleeding or treat infection.  This would happen at a time that we will need every member of our survival group to be productive individuals. Growing food, managing livestock, perimeter defense, and caring for children will take the energy of all involved.  When a pregnancy goes wrong, it takes away a valuable contributor from the survival family (sometimes permanently) and places an additional strain on resources and manpower.

Now, I don’t want everyone to think that I’m saying that all women will die during their pregnancy. What I am saying is that not all survival groups have prepared to obtain the knowledge, resources, and ability to deal with the complications that could occur.  Every Prepper should stop and think about the danger to which you could be exposing Mrs. Prepper, if you aren’t ready for every possibility.  Also, if people are rioting in the streets and your garden isn’t doing so well yet, do you really need to add a newborn baby to your list of responsibilities?

So, what’s your plan?   Even long-time Preppers haven’t spent much time figuring out what birth control method they will use in a collapse situation.   Have you included condoms in your bug-out bag?  The majority have not, so congratulations if you did.  That means you’ve thought about more than just beans and bullets.

It’s important to have condoms in your storage, but condoms can break; even if they don’t, they won’t last forever.   With spermicide, condoms expire and become brittle after 2 years; without spermicide, perhaps at most 5 years.   Some women use IUDs (intrauterine devices) to prevent pregnancy.  Some of these use hormones that wear off over time. They must be inserted into the body of the uterus, something best done by someone with experience to prevent injury.

Birth control pills are useful, but are difficult to get more than a few months’ supply at any one time.  Insurance companies tightly control when women can get their next pack of pills.  Some offer 3 month’s supply at a time, but you still have to wait until the end of those 3 months to get more.  Even if you could get them, they cost a bundle if purchased outside of insurance plans.  The cost of stockpiling several years’ worth these can be difficult for the average person.

As such, we will have to go back to a natural form of birth control: Natural Family Planning (the modern version of the Rhythm Method). Although not as effective in preventing pregnancy as the Pill, it is 90% effective if implemented correctly.  There is no need to put hormones into your system and no side effects. Natural Family Planning is a time-honored strategy to prevent pregnancy that fits in well with any collapse strategy.

This method involves trying to figure out your fertile period and avoiding unprotected intercourse during that time.  This method works best on women who have relatively regular cycles.  Cycles are predictable if a woman releases an egg for fertilization (this is called ovulation) on a regular basis.

If you or your partner has 28 day menstrual cycles, you can bet that ovulation is occurring. A pregnancy is likely in any couple having regular sexual relations. So likely, in fact, that 80-85% of couples can expect a pregnancy within the first year of a collapse situation if not careful.  The egg will disintegrate in 24-48 hours, however, if not fertilized.

You can tell the day that you or your partner is ovulating by doing a little research.  This involves, in part, taking your temperature with a thermometer daily for a cycle or two. There are actually special thermometers that are used for this purpose called Basal Body Temperature Thermometers, although I would think that any thermometer that goes up by 1/10 degree increments would do (e.g., 98.1, 98.2, 98.3 degrees Fahrenheit).  Make certain to take temperatures daily at the same time, preferably before you get out of bed in the morning.

When you ovulate, your basal body temperature goes up about half a degree and stays up until the next period. Make a graph or chart of the daily temperatures and you’ll see a pattern develop. Always count Day #1 as the first day of menstrual bleeding to start with.  Once you’ve done this for a few cycles, you will have a good idea about when you or your partner is at risk for getting pregnant.  A common physical symptom that goes along with this: Many women will notice some one-sided discomfort in the lower abdomen when they ovulate.

Let’s say that you or your partner has 28 day cycles and that the temperature rise occurs around day 14.  You should avoid having unprotected sexual intercourse from about day 10 – day 18 (a few days prior and a few days after the likely day of ovulation).  If ovulation occurs later, say day 16, just move the “danger” period over to day 12 – day 20.  Ovulation may occur a couple of days earlier or later in any one cycle, so you want to have a margin of error in determining the time period eligible for fertilization.

Observing the cyclical changes in cervical mucus is a useful adjunct. The cervical mucus method is based on observation of the character of cervical mucus during the course of the menstrual cycle. Before ovulation,

To use this method, it’s important to understand how cervical secretions change during a typical menstrual cycle. Generally, you’ll see:

  •  Little or no cervical secretions for several days after each period.
  • Sticky, thick secretions for the next few days
  • Then, the mucus becomes clear and watery for the next three or four days — this is when ovulation is occurring.
  • A thicker and less quantity of cervical secretions until the period ends.

Cervical mucus, once obtained, will be thick; spreading your fingers will cause it to snap.  During ovulation, spreading two mucus-laden fingers will cause the watery mucus to stretch significantly before breaking.

As evaluating your cervical mucus involves placing your finger deep inside the vagina all the way to the cervix, make sure you have washed your hands thoroughly and have an ample supply of gloves.  Remember, you may be in a situation where sanitary and hygienic conditions may not exist.

Performed correctly, the Natural Family Planning method is an effective and completely natural way to prevent pregnancy.  In a collapse, it will allow you to decide when things are stable enough to bring a newborn into the world.

Dr. Bones

To read another article about pregnancy in a collapse situation, click here.

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