Question 5


Dear Fr. Matthew,

I have had 3 c-sections, in the past 5 years, two of which were only 1 year apart. It has been very painful for me. I had my son 5 months ago and I still feel the pain on my right side. My question then is how many more surgeries can my body take? My husband says he wants to sterilize himself because he doesn't want to see me in pain anymore and asks me what if something goes wrong next time; what about the kids? My doctor told me that one thing that could happen is that I could lose my uterus. And that makes me feel so scared that I want to tell my husband to go for it. But what holds me back from doing so is what does God want me to do? I do want another child but I'm too scared. What does then God want me to do? Should I have 1,2,3… more children and put my health at risk? I also know that sterilizing oneself is against the teachings of the Church. That's why I want to know more about NFP. Last time I tried to do it I got pregnant, but I never took the classes. I just went on an Internet medical journal. Thank you so much for your time, Father. I will pray for you.

Please pray for me.
 - L.

Dear L,
I commend you for your love of family and wanting to do what is right. Clearly, at the present time you are not in a condition for having more children. However, circumstances may change. In the future you may very well be in good health, and want to have more children. In the meanwhile, you should learn NFP thoroughly from a qualified teacher, and not haphazardly, so that you have a reliable and effective method of responsible parenthood. But there are many medical considerations involved with your case. I have asked Dr. Mary Martin, M.D., to address your situation. 
You are in my prayers. 
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB 


Dear L.
Bless you for wanting to do the right thing! God has given us the technology to recognize the fertile time and Church teaching allows us to avoid using the fertile time for a serious reason. Please learn NFP from a properly trained instructor. I recommend the Billings Ovulation Method to my patients because of its simplicity.

The number of caesarean sections is not limited to three or four or five. While your doctor is the best to advise you of future risk, remember that doctors have learned to avoid risk in fear of being sued for a bad outcome. Only you, your husband and God can determine the right number of children for your family. Sterilization is unnecessary and has side effects, sometimes painful. But most couples soon regret the decision.

Any pregnancy can result in loss of a uterus. I came very close to doing a caesarean hysterectomy last night on a patient delivering her first baby. The more pregnancies and the more caesarean sections, the greater the risk that the placenta will implant too low in the uterus or will grow through an old scar. If that is serious enough a risk for you to avoid conceiving another baby, you will be successful in using NFP if you are properly instructed and use the rules.

Mary W. Martin, M.D.,FACOG