How to Love Your Period (and why you should)!

period health

Over the past few years I have become increasingly interested in uteri (yup, that’s the plural of uterus).  After becoming a Doula in 2011, and adding to my Yoga certification prenatal training, I began to spend most of my time thinking about the womb: what it does, how it does it and how we can take better care of it.

I know when I was growing up “getting your period” was not discussed much.  As teenagers we talked about with sarcastic annoyance, only slightly masking our actual excitement at being part of the grown up club.  In my twenties it was more of a nuisance than anything else – a year of intense exercise and eating too little took it away; it was the thing that mean you weren’t pregnant; it was the thing that made the trip down the shore a little more complicated or for some of my friends the thing that kept you out of school for a day in pain.

I didn’t really really know much about it until I was a doula and miscarried myself and really started to wonder why.  Why does it last as long as it does? Why does it repeat? How does it affect other parts of my body and how do other things affect my cycle?  If only I had space to address all those things here!  I can tell you that loving your period will help you to love yourself more.  It will help you understand your body on a deeper level and appreciate it, no matter how much you may feel it is a machine (and possibly a broken one).  Loving your period will help you release body shame, emotional baggage around being a woman, possibly even begin to heal from a difficult pregnancy or birth. It’s certainly a good place to start! So here’s what I WILL share with you today: what my studying, personal experience and work with clients has helped me discover – ways to really love your period.

1.  Don’t cook.

I hate cooking when I have my period.  Though I no longer get any PMS symptoms, I still feel (as I like to say) very “resty” the first day of my period.  And I think there’s a good reason for that.  It’s meant to be a day of rest.  Sure, we can’t all climb into a red tent and burn sage and drink wine (but, ohmyword do I ever want to!)  You can however, plan for a night off of cooking.  Have a crock pot frozen meal ready to go or plan for your spouse to pick up that duty that specific day.  If you don’t normally do the cooking – choose that other household chore you usually take care of and take a day off.

2. Start over.

Every month (hopefully anyway) you get a chance to start over.  Your body literally sheds dead weight and makes room for something new.  If you’re trying to get pregnant, each period can feel like a loss, I get that.  But with every loss is a new opportunity to do something new and different.  If you don’t bleed with the new moon, you can still use the start of bleeding as a time to set an intention for your next cycle.  What do you want to accomplish in the next 4 weeks? What is your heart’s desire?  What do you need?

My last two intentions have been “to stay the course” and “to take out the unnecessaries”.  The first was about not trying to add in a million new ideas to my business or to our life for that matter, and just “let the water boil” as my coach would say.  The second was about taking off the schedule the things that weren’t really serving my bigger goals or weren’t really working no matter how much I wanted them to. What’s your intention this cycle?

3. Stay warm.

A little more practically, period is similar to postpartum when you’re bleeding and losing things from your body.  Staying warm is very useful to your health (keep circulation moving, mentally keeps you from feeling fatigued), but also useful for reducing cramping and pain (you grip muscles more when you’re cold).  So if you plan to go for a crisp morning jog or hike, save it for next weekend. Sip warm tea.

4. Go with the Apana Vata flow.

In Ayurvedic medicine the belief is that women live longer because they are given the opportunity to naturally detox every single month. What a gift!  The energy that eliminates toxins in the body (and mind) is called apana vata.  To get in line, don’t do any inversions in your yoga practice, sip lemon water and get rid of any emotional baggage weighing you down.  Have a little dark chocolate but skip the sugary overload as it will make cramps worse, interfere with natural detox, and increase feelings of depression.

5. Don’t waste it.

Use this time as a built-in appointment for self-care.  That silly magazine you’ve been wanting to read but you never do because you’ve got other things to do?  Today’s your day.  Need a pedicure but been putting it off?  Schedule your appointment for the start of your cycle.  If you can avoid it – skip big parties and major work events, schedule project deadlines nowhere near your bleeding time (try the full moon instead!)

 

I hope that this helps you enjoy your cycle, and actually find it a time of nourishment and deeper self-awareness!  If you don’t have someone to walk you through your fertility or postpartum hormonal wellness, let’s get in touch!  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session with me now by clicking here!

Be well Mamas!

MWT – Lemon Balm

 

lemon balm holistic pregnancy tip

 

Happy Mama Wellness Wednesday! Here’s your Mama Wellness Tip for this week.  This one is a holistic fertility, holistic pregnancy and holistic postpartum gem.

Lemon Balm is one of my favorite mama herbs!  Safe for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding seasons of life, it can help to reduce tension and relieve a headache. The large amounts of essential oils in Lemon Balm (or Melissa) have an antispasmodic effect and can therefore help with digestion and gas relief. Combined with Nettle Leaf it’s a great allergy tonic for pregnant women.

But my favorite thing about Lemon Balm is it’s light, lemony flavor.  I add it to otherwise grassy or bitter tasting herbs when I’m drinking something medicinally.  I think it’s this taste that contributes to it’s ability to help with depression and insomnia.  (Two things that are my high priorities for all categories of clients: mamas trying to conceive, pregnant women and new mamas!) Because it tastes so delicious I recommend taking it as a tea or decoction.  It tastes great with almost anything and is good iced as well.

Mama Maurer’s Moodalicious Tea

  • 2-3 parts Lemon Balm
  • 1 part Motherwort
  • 1 part Red Raspberry Leaf

 

You can find Lemon Balm in my Happy Womb Tea and Fertile Mama Tea! You can also order in bulk from good sources like Mountain Rose Herbs.

Why not sip some Lemon Balm tea before you sit down for your Empowered Mama Guided Prenatal Meditation? You can download it here. Or click here for your Abundant Mama Guided Fertility Meditation!

 

Mama Wellness Wednesday – How to Take a Break Like You Mean It

mindful mama tip

Yah, yah, you’re thinking, every blog about moms says “relax“.

You’re right.  But here’s what I mean when I say “take a break”.  I’m not referring to: getting a massage, having tea with a friend or watching the sunset (though I highly recommend all those things) . I’m talking about taking a momentum break.

  • Trying desperately to feel “like yourself” and “get your body back” postpartum?
  • Trying desperately to get pregnant – in any way possible – and feeling on the verge of giving up/losing it/hiding somewhere?
  • Trying desperately to plan for an empowered birth when there are voices, tv shows, friends, parents, care providers, blogs and your own fears telling you it’s impossible and you’re not feeling that great anyway so who has the energy to plan something as grand as “empowering”?

Your Mama Wellness Tip this week: put it down.  Walk away.  With a time limit.

  • I will work on getting my body in my pre-pregnancy pants in exactly two weeks.
  • I will have sex to get pregnant in exactly two cycles.
  • I will write my birth plan in three days.

Why does the time limit matter?  It helps to relieve that boiling pressure that’s building with each moment you don’t see the fruition of your desires.  And it helps you to feel safe (you haven’t abandoned your goal forever, you’ve just put it down temporarily).

Ever notice how some couples get pregnant when they stop trying, even after years?  How some pregnancies seem to improve when we unplug from what everyone around us is telling us to do or try?  How some women “get their body back” (oh how I hate that phrase, but you know what I mean) without trying? It’s called letting go.

One study even found that women undergoing IVF cycles were more likely to get pregnant when they used “emotion-focused coping (EFC)”.  The authors found that “letting go is positively associated with risk of pregnancy”.

Prana

In the yoga world we us a word called prana.  This refers to the life force within you.  What keeps you alive, what makes your heart beat and your soul inspired.  When we run ourselves ragged chasing after something (especially something we may not have control over) we become prana deficient.  We increase prana by taking a break.  Breathing more (that’s why those breathing techniques are called pranayama), eating more whole foods, sleeping more.  Essentially, we restore. Taking a momentum break will help to restore prana (not to mention benefit relationships, help you see what your true desires are, and connect with God.)

Give it a try.  What do you have to lose?

mindful mama tip

Do you have your Abundant Mama Guided Fertility Meditation? Click here to get it free!

 

 

Mama Wellness Wednesday – Exercise and Hormonal Health

postpartum hormones

Did you know that strenuous exercise can send your adrenal glands into red alert and drive inflammation?  This can also make you insulin resistant – a major problem for women who already suffer PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) that is thought to be caused by insulin resistance in the body.

If you’re trying to get pregnant or restore hormonal health postpartum, starting or going back to a vigorous routine of exercise (like running, kick boxing etc.) might cause more harm than good.  I remember trying to lose weight for a few years and struggling!  Running a lot, eating really well and still just feeling tired and the weight didn’t budge.  My adrenals were way over taxed.  What made the difference was minimizing stress on my adrenals – a yin yoga practice, slow cooked “warming” foods, and better sleep.

  • If vigorous exercise is your stress reliever, instead find a yoga class with an instructor you like.
  • Minimize stress on your adrenal glands by taking out sugar and caffeine from your regular diet.
  • Practice mediation a few minutes a day to help support healthy endocrine function!

If you need help navigating through the stress of fertility or healing postpartum, let me help.  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session here to get started.

Bonus Mama Wellness Tip for Mother’s Day!

art for pregnancy

 

You know what’s the easiest way to see your ideal pregnancy and birth? See it.  Draw it.  I have all of my clients do creative drawing tasks to help them circumvent their conscious mind (what I think should want, see or feel) and get to the deeper needs.

It works!  Even when mamas originally feel intimidated by the idea (we’ve all been told we’re not “artists”), after realizing that it’s not about making art but using a tool to get ready for pregnancy or birth, find it so useful.

There are all kinds of specific tasks you can do – and I have clients work through these, often adding in one if they could use something unique.  Here are three steps to get you started:

1.  Pick a medium.

The simple task of choosing your art tool can say a lot about what you need.  Try not to think about it.  Do you feel drawn to something more structured like pencil or more soft like water colors?

2. Pick a theme.

If you decide to just sit down and “draw” you likely won’t ever do it, or the blank page will loom before you like a waiting audience.  Decide on one topic, word or question.  For example: “motherhood”, “conception as a landscape” or “me as a pregnant woman”.

3. Don’t think about it…until later.

As much as possible just put on paper (or into clay) what comes out.  Turn down the inner critic and filter and just create.  Focus instead on that word or question.  Later (a day, an hour, a week), come back to the drawing/work and see how it makes you feel.  At that point it’s great to notice things about the work:

  • How do the colors make you feel or what do they make you think of?
  • What surprised you about it?
  • What stands out?
  • Did you learn something about yourself/fertility/pregnancy/postpartum vision?

Enjoy!

Need guidance walking through your creative tasks for motherhood?  Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough session no by clicking here!  I can’t wait to connect with you!

Holistic Postpartum Care – Mama Wellness Wednesday

holistic postpartum careDid you know your liver not only processes the physical things we ingest but also the emotional?
During pregnancy and postpartum your liver is working extra hard to process the additional estrogen and progesterone but also the extra emotions that are happening. This starts during conception as well if conception is an intentional journey for you.

Don’t forget to do an emotional house-cleaning when you cleanse this spring! Journal, practice slow moving yoga and notice your emotions, get rid of posessions you don’t need, set new boundaries in a relationship, make necessary changes to your schedule. Clean house emotionally mamas and be nice to your liver!

Mama Wellness Wednesday: Holistic Fertility Tips – Cleansing

It’s not recommended to intensely detoxify the body during conception, pregnancy or postpartum.

BUT it is awesome to have optimal liver function to process all your estrogen and progesterone!

Instead, to cleanse the liver and decrease ama (built up toxins and indigested food or thoughts) in a way that’s gentle enough for conception, pregnancy and new-mama-hood:

Sip hot water with fresh lemon juice throughout the day and especially first thing in the AM.

Frequency during the day is more important than quantity.

Do you have a wellness guide for fertility, pregnancy and postpartum? No? Schedule your Blissful Mama Breakthrough Session now, by clicking here.holistic fertility tips

Things I did during pregnancy that made my postpartum joyful.

plan for postpartum wellness

Postpartum is an often under-served time of life.  If you have an OB as your care provider, they often see breastfeeding as a pediatric issue.  The pediatricians often see breastfeeding as an obstetrical issue.  Moms may see a lactation consultant once in the hospital, and then are left on their own to contend with this new full time job.  Not only that, but you all know, this time of life is sensitive for mom’s long term reproductive health, mother-baby bonding, the baby developing their trust in their care providers, Mama developing her instincts as a mother, and mother and child developing their (hopefully) long breastfeeding relationship.  There is A LOT going on.  And unfortunately, too many mamas get help preparing for birth but not creating a plan for postpartum. 


Let me offer some of the things I did while still pregnant that really set me up to have the joyful postpartum I have so far (6 weeks in).


1.  Prenatal Yoga: I felt strong and open for birth, and confident my recovery would be straightforward.  It helped me develop the ability to use my breath effectively and with specific direction, as well as have a strong pelvic floor. 

2. Eating Fermented Foods: My digestion was fantastic (never a problem), my metabolism functioning well, and my chances of having a positive GBS result were very low. I also was able to pass on that healthy gut flora to Fiona through the birth canal and breastmilk!

3. Stocking the freezer: But not with just anything!  Certain foods can help a postpartum mama heal well.  My freezer had mostly  homemade organic bone broths. The minerals and nutrients from homemade broths are fantastic. And the warm, easily digested broths are great for warming a postpartum mama and baby. They’re soothing, heating, and reheat well. Guinness stew and chicken noodle were my staples for several days postpartum. They helped me feel strong. 

4. Replaced our blender: I had at least one green smoothie a day for the first three weeks. Replenishing iron with leafy greens in an easy to digest and quick to make (even for a visit friend who isn’t good in the kitchen!). Full of whatever fruits or veggies you get in there. Helps revive strength. 

5. I re-read Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, the Nursing Mother’s Herbal, and Natural Health After Birth.  I wanted all that info to reference easily in my mind should I need it. I found that very useful postpartum. 

6. Changing to a homebirth. This isn’t right for everyone. But it was 100% the right choice for us. My midwife spent so much time with me, confirming my confidence in myself, my health and the process. She understood and didn’t judge any of my choices. She read me my scriptures and quotes during labor and the closest I got to a cervical exam was when she asked me if I wanted to check myself and see if I could feel Fiona’s head. This meant that postpartum, I felt totally capable and ready to take on motherhood.  Because I had no interventions, I had no recovery from them.  I understand sometimes they’re necessary, and there are great ways to help support healing when they are!

7. A full apothecary. I made sure I had extra yoni bath, raw honey, magnesium, raspberry leaf infusion, motherwort and Valerian root handy.

8. Napping: I am not a great napper, so getting in the habit during pregnancy has helped me to nap with Fiona postpartum. 

9. Visualizing and Meditating:  Visualizing birth is so important in feeling prepared, meditation can be key to teaching your body to relax on command and to focus during pregnancy and postpartum on positive truths. 

10. Hired a doula. Even doulas need to be doula-ed!  She helped us to change our birth plans entirely at 33 weeks and to find the right midwife for us.  She has been an essential part of our birth journey for sure, and during pregnancy, if my three hour visit with our midwife wasn’t enough of a vent session for me, I would call her!

I really think how you treat yourself during pregnancy (and allow others to treat you) has an influence on how your birth goes, how your postpartum is and the long term health of you and baby. The most current research in the area of birth psychology and neonatal neurobiology says that we are imprinted with things in the womb:  like mamas stress or lack of it. It’s super important to care for yourself – not that we can control all circumstances- but that we train ourselves to respond well to stress : taking time for ourselves, eating well,  prayer, moving, thinking about pure and good things, spending time in the company of loved ones and people who accept and encourage us, being choosy about what we watch/listen to.

 Start sewing into the future now by making choices in line with what we want/hope for now!

 

 

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