What held me back from having a great period for years. (Even after I went to Nutrition School)

love your period

It’s common in our culture to disdain that time of the month when we bleed.  Our commercials for period accessories try to prove how great they are by showing how they help us completely ignore our periods all together.

When I got my first period in middle school my mom sort of just said Ok, here’s a tampon, good luck. There was certainly no celebration of entering womanhood or passing on of womanly wisdom.  I did get a discreet envelope during my 5th grade “sex ed” class full of intimidating pillow sized pads.  That was super helpful. I got the message: we don’t really talk about this, except maybe to complain.

That message has been reaffirmed throughout my adult life.  I didn’t actually learn about how to chart ovulation or connect with the lunar cycle until I was much much older.  And in the meantime, I assumed that dramatic PMS symptoms like cramps, drastic mood swings, clumpy or heavy bleeding were just normal.  After all, isn’t this why we were supposed to complain all the time?

Turns out, I was wrong.

I wish someone would have told me in my early twenties that not getting my period for months at a time was not a cause for medication but actually about my strict calorie counting, self-loathing and obsessive exercising.

I wish someone would have introduced me to the idea that my lunar cycle is a celebration of womanhood, the potential for motherhood, and a unique opportunity to gently cleanse every single month.

I wish someone would have helped me understand the impact nourishment, rest and reflection would have on those “unavoidable” symptoms.

I wish someone would have passed on some wise woman wisdom about herbal, nutritional and yoga therapeutic remedies to help regulate my hormone production so my body didn’t feel the need to get my attention every month.  The role my liver, thyroid and adrenal function played in having a consistent cycle.

I wish someone would have told me about the toxic chemicals in most period accessories.

I wish someone would have taught me to love my period.

What if you could have a great period?

Ignoring it was the problem. It held me back.

I was talking to a client the other day who ignored the severe pain she was having for a year because her endocrinologist said “getting pregnant would fix it”. We need to get back in touch with our intuition, and stop ignoring your period.

What kind of words do you associate with it? Are you trying to get pregnant and dread that time?  Are you “postpartum” and can’t seem to find a good normal?  Have you been able to learn to love it? What are your favorite ways?

Any of this sound like what you’d love to know?  Let me help you.  Schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session by clicking here.  Let’s get an action plan going for your specific period needs.

Hurricane Babies

You know the belief that more babies are born around full moons and storms?  Some birth workers don’t believe this is true, and some do.  I for one, happen to believe that nature has a strong and powerful effect on our bodies, and it can’t always be measured in highly specific amounts.  

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found there to be no significant increase in the birth rate in correlation with lunar phases or barometric pressure in their 2005 study.  (Birth rate and its correlation with the lunar cycle and specific atmospheric conditions). However the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery in 1988 found there to be an increase in the onset of labor around the full moon when barometric pressure was not controlled. When they accounted for barometric pressure drop (like when a big storm is coming), there was a correlation but it wasn’t statistically significant. ( Influence of the full and new moon on onset of labor and spontaneous rupture of membranes).  One more study found that there was a correlation but not significant : (The effect of changes in atmospheric pressure on the occurrence of the spontaneous onset of labor in term pregnancies)

Anecdotally, many midwives, doulas and nurses report being busier around full moons and storms.  I for one, was busy this past weekend with Hurricane Sandy approaching (ironic, yes). I had one client that hadn’t delivered yet, and wasn’t expecting to deliver for another two weeks or so.  Being a first time mom, and now on bed rest with some concerns about blood pressure, I didn’t expect her labor to surprise us anytime soon…until I realized there was a hurricane about to hit us directly on a full moon.  (Which, by the way seems to be what the Nurse-Midwifery journal found: change in barometric pressure coupled with a full moon seemed to have the most profound effect.)  

So on Saturday afternoon I gave her a call, just to see how she was feeling.  She assured me that she was having less contractions, more back pain, and had been spending most of her time on the birth ball I suggested she try to alleviate the pain.  In retrospect I can now see that her contractions hadn’t stopped, they had just moved to her back, signifying the OP baby she would soon deliver (occiput-posterior, or baby facing mom’s front instead of her back).  Only a few hours after she assured me she wasn’t having contractions she called back to tell me her mucus plug had passed.  Oops!  Maybe we would be having a baby after all….

I encouraged her to rest and try not to focus on it because some people lose their plug days before they deliver (though inwardly I had a feeling that labor would begin as this storm picked up).  By Sunday afternoon her contractions were 10 minutes apart, about 45 seconds long.  When they picked up to 6 minutes apart and over a minute I got in the car to go see her.  Thankfully they only live about 15 minutes down the road because Hurricane Sandy was starting to gain momentum.  The rain was pounding, wind was knocking me over, and I was grateful I didn’t have to drive through one of the two tunnels I typically have to drive through, especially since one was already closed from flooding. 

I arrived around 7:45 pm.  Her contractions were no longer in her back, which was a good sign to me, and she was bouncing and breathing rhythmically on her birth ball, composed, focused.  It wasn’t long before her breathing became heavier, and contractions were coming quicker, and we decided to head to the hospital, birth ball, rice sock and water bottle in tow. (Fasting rule be damned!)

We arrived thinking she was much closer to complete than she was and I realized the intensity of her pain was due to back labor and not to being in transition as we had hoped.   We decided as a team of three (four if you count baby!) that the plan of action was to try and keep labor moving as quickly as possible and to try and make room for that baby (who we correctly assessed was OP) to flip around and move down.  She sat on her trusty birth ball during contractions, and stood up to labor dance with her husband in between.  We eventually moved to the shower where she could lean forward with water on her back between contractions and sit on the ball during them. 

Her groaning and moaning competed with Hurricane Sandy outside the window, and her husband kept the TV muted on the news of the storm.  We were watching the storm build, the wind pick up, and the contractions move closer together and closer to overwhelming.    She began to think she couldn’t do it.  She began to cry for an epidural.  And I knew she meant it.  This wasn’t a case of doubt that would pass quickly.  But I also knew how badly this mom wanted to avoid the medications and how close she was to delivery (moved from four to six to eight centimeters in the course of our four hours there).  I also knew that with the position we thought the baby was in getting an epidural could slow things down, make it too difficult for baby to navigate her way down with no movement of the hips; and if she made it down, be difficult to push out and possibly cause unnecessary tearing.  I took my cues from dad, and we talked her through it.  In between contractions she would nod and breath, during them groan on the verge of screaming.  Dad stepped up and looked her in the eye “There is no plan B! You ARE doing this!!  You CAN do this!  Groan it out, just groan her down!” And right there in that moment I watched him become a father. 

Dad stood in front of her, me behind with the rick sock on her back.  At 2:45 am her water broke in a huge gush across the bathroom floor and we jumped up and walked her to the bed where she immediately, and without prompting, assumed the position I would have suggested anyway- hands and knees.  Dad ran to grab a nurse when water broke and by now three came running in the room and immediately three jaws hit the floor. “Umm. honey you need to turn over now” one sheepishly suggested.  To which Mama replied “Noooooo!  I’m not! I’m not! NO! NO! NO!”

I had a feeling that this position was not only the best way for her, but that the doctor and nurses were not going to give her much chance to do it her way.  So I leaned over and whispered in her ear “Do whatever you need to do, doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. ”  The doctor came in, and looking equally surprised said “Ummm. I need her to turn over and deliver conventionally so I can have more control.”

My intuition told me that if I could just keep him talking a bit about her “untested pelvis” she would push that baby out in no time. I knew she might risk pushing too fast and tearing a bit but at least not be forced to get on her back which seemed impossible for her anyway. So I again reminded her to do what she needed to do and kept chatting with the perplexed doctor who was looking more and more annoyed but not moving to do anything yet. Mom buried her face in her hands, made her loudest scream yet and suddenly we hear Dad yell “I SEE A HEAD!!!”  I breathed a sigh of relief. 

The entire room turned towards Mom to see a head emerging and everyone jumped into action.  The Doctor, still visibly annoyed that he was forced to catch a baby this position, put both hands inside of mom to pull baby, nearly knocking her off the table.  A stunned nurse and I caught her from either side and baby was here!  Despite the doctors best efforts and a few snarky comments to mom about how she should just let him do his job, Mom was an amazing birth goddess, roaring along with the storm outside.  

Once the room fell quiet and silent, and Baby lay in Mama’s arms, Dad turned to Mom and with a look of awe and amazement said to her “You were a Warrior.” And she truly was.  

(photo credit: http://artsytime.com/pregnancy-tattoos/)