Period Chat! – Guest blog post from Instagrammer and small business power house Naomi Gale. Discussing all things period, cycles, seasons and organic tampons!
Hello! What an honour to be a guest on Ali’s blog. As a huge Ali fan it feels such privilege to share my words with you all.
My name is Naomi and I am mum to Arlo who just turned 3 and twin girls who have just turned 14 months. Or for those who aren’t into the month figures for ages- 1.
Our journey to becoming parents
All three of my children are the result of fertility treatment with my son IUI and my girls IVF. We were in the unfortunate bracket of dealing with infertility with my husband who has Azoo and myself who clearly has a body that isn’t as tickety boo as I thought it was. Fertility has a habit of highlighting every little thing that could be or is wrong and let’s face it with a bloke it’s a pretty simple situation- does he produce great swimmers answer yes or no and move forward to question 10- I am obvs insinuating a fertility clinic runs it’s screening like the back page of a cosmo questionnaire. With women the questions are endless, the difficulties we can face are literally again- endless- our inner workings are way more complicated as I soon realised when being thrown into the fertility world. However, more recently, now I am out the other side of my journey, I have realised our bodies are powerful, amazing and actually are always trying to tell us something if we just listen- in fact I am honestly truly in awe with our bodies and when we start to listen to them we end up learning from ourselves. Let me explain…
This would turn into the longest blog post in the world if I actually went into my journey in detail but I just want to make some key points. Hoping that some of them would either resonate with you or you would at least read them and go away chewing them over and wanting to learn more.
I have always had painful periods- I have now realised that our first period is called menarche and can actually paint your experience of periods for years to come. Have you ever stopped and looked back at your first ever bleed? Where you were? What you were doing? How others reacted? I am talking about friends and family and how you reacted?
I remember mine clearly- I was sat in a psychology A level lesson and the pain rippled through my body like I was being torn apart. I had to leave andI literally dragged myself to the toilets- stopping slumped on chairs and the floor as I went. When I finally made it I looked up in the mirror and I had never been so white. I dragged myself back and it was the end of the lesson. My parents were called, my mother said I had a low pain threshold and I was dragged to the GP to be offered the pill.
Now, this was at 17. I am now 31 and I cannot believe advice hasn’t changed. Hello Mr or Mrs GP I am presenting with painful periods since my twin girls to the point where I am on the floor screaming like I am in labour again- the pill? The mini pill? The coil? They are your options. Well what if we don’t want these options? The GP will tell you that is all they can do for you. But how wrong they are- oh babe- as I maintain England is pretty shit for fertility and pretty shit for women’s issues unless you hit jackpot and find a beautiful soul who gets it.
Getting to know my periods
31, I am 31 years old and after everything I have I have been through with my body- menstruation, sex, fertility, pregnancy a twin pregnancy, breastfeeding. Apparently I knew very little about myself. I read Period Power by Maisie Hill and she took my breath away. I sat crying in the car- full on snort cries before shifts at work while listening on Audible. I then decided to read everything I could get hold of. I have books, blog posts, articles coming out of my ears and vulva if you like. I am in awe of my body, I am getting to know my body better than I ever have. I am going into myself and learning how my body works and what my body needs. I am living with cyclical awareness that allows me-week to week, day to day and hour to hour decide what I need now to get me through the day. Is it space? Is it time for me? Is it exercise? Is it a certain food? Is it sleep? Is it less screen time? The list goes on. I am currently week 6 deep into Claire Baker’s Radiate course who is a fabulous babe to follow for period chat if you don’t already.
I have made a few changes and my last period was painful yes, but not crippling and I carried on with my days. Life changing. For example I eat to the seasons, I nourish my body with food now. I have cut down on dairy, I eat less sugar. I don’t touch caffeine and I drink wine in my Spring and Summer. I track my cycle everyday. I am seed cycling. I am learning about the moon. I am using tarot cards and working with crystals. I tell my husband what day I am on in my cycle and I talk to my son about my pain and my bleeding. This is just a snapshot of my life changes.
Period tracking using the Seasons Method
The greatest insight into my cycle has come from tracking my seasons. One of the biggest shocks for me is how little some women have explored their cycle and understandably so because at school the lessons are brushed over by some or taught by, in my case, the geography teacher with the polystyrene dildos and I was only there for the bants. Years later, I now realise how serious this is, how women and men are unable to go to the doctors even able to specify what they believe the issue may be because of the lack of education. Some women just do not know that day one is the day you start bleeding (a full bleed not just spotting) this has huge implications for a lot of things. So day one is the start of your Winter season. The season where we go into ourselves, nurture ourselves and take the time we need, move but move in slower ways with yoga and gentle walks. In Winter, you may switch off from your phones, spend longer on your own, want to indulge yourself in beautiful nourishing rich foods and dark chocolate. The seasons last for different lengths of time for person to person and really from month to month. Tracking your cycle monthly allows you to explore this further. Using a 28 day cycle as an example (though 1 in 10 women actually have a 28 day cycle and Clue have found the average length for a 30 year old is 25 to 41.5 days) Winter can last between 1-6 days.
Then we move into our inner Spring. Once we emerge from our Winter we start to feel like we want to tick off the to do list, attack the goals we explored in our Winter. It’s important to take our time, our bodies are now preparing for ovulation. Oestrogen is on the rise and she is fabulous- she makes us feel oh so wonderful. Our biggest event of the month. This is the season to eat fresh fruit and veg- loads of leafy greens to support our body after our bleed. Slowly make plans for your cycle, start to tick things off and make plans to be sociable in your Summer. Now is the time to start exercising with gentle jogs if you feel like it or gentle weight sessions. When we ovulate some women have a surge of energy and feel fabulous, other women find this time tiring or for some it can be painful. Post ovulation you move into the luteal phase of your cycle and into your Summer.
Summer is when you can feel at your best. When you don the shorter dress you haven’t worn for a few weeks, when you start to feel flirty (maybe as flirty or more so compared to your Spring when some women feel all the sexual feels), when you want to go out and socialise and feel even chattier. When you are pushing through your lists and working towards those goals. You are eating all the leafy greens, fruit, when your body can cope well with glasses of wine and those special cups of morning coffee. Summer, for most, is a fabulous time. Our Oestrogen levels begin to drop after ovulation and our Progesterone starts to rise. This moves us towards Autumn.
As Progesterone rises so can anxiety and upset for some, it heightens our awareness of things around us and our inner critic starts to come into play. As Progesterone drops and Oestrogen goes towards the lowest levels in our cycle we almost start to feel clearer in ourminds, we have a few days where suddenly, things that have been annoying us but we brush under those carpets, start to annoy us even more, we realise what we don’t like in our lives and this just irritates us even more. Autumn is not the time to make any changes. It’s the time to listen to our minds and our bodies and note them down, jot them in a journal, sit on them and know they are there. As we emerge from our Winter later on, then is the time to make some changes ready for the Autumn again where we can consider other changes we need to make. Autumn is the time to take things slower, not push ourselves and work our agendas around ourselves as best as we can. Prepare for your Winter. Get some dark chocolate at the ready. Suddenly there is a void, this void occurs just before we bleed. Where we feel we want to be absolutely still, where we don’t want to be touched or hear noise or have people around us. The void is something to really listen out for because working with the void prepares us for our menopause. In fact our Autumns in general prepare us working towards our menopause.
Then of course you are back to your Winter. There are so many other things that you can be doing in your seasons. This is a snapshot of ideas. Period Power explores them as does Claire Baker and many others. Tracking your cycle to your seasons allows you to explore your emotions and of course allow you to be in tune with how you feel physically. For me, I thought I was suffering with PND after my twins, I was at my lowest at the beginning of this year but as my cycle returned and I tracked it, I realised it’s just certain days. It’s not all the time- I really feel this is powerful. When we observe ourselves like this, we are armed with more information for the drs too if we are worried about something or struggling to conceive.
Love your period and your vagina
Since January I also switched to non toxic, vagina loving tampons that are biodegradable. The brand is OHNE and I love them. They recently asked me to be an ambassador which allows me to share a free box and continue to chat all things kind tampons and share the importance of not using the well-known brands thanks to their care free attitude with what they are putting in their products thus we are putting in our vaginas. My poor flaps have been subjected to this for years without me realising. My code is NAOMIGVIP for a free box. I am pretty sure OHNE asked me to be an ambassador purely because they saw how much I was tagging them in my tampon stories- I am here for their products and brand where they are educating us on all things period too as well as giving back. Alongside these I use a cup. I did the “put a cup in it” quiz and turns out pushing three babies = saggy vagina so I have a large cup. The softest cup I could find and used “Precious Star Pads” you tube videos for help- alongside YES lube. My vagina has thanked me for sure.
Perhaps enough period chat for now but I hope sharing my experience a little helps someone. I have always had an interest in menstruation after years of teaching sex ed and wanting to teach this independently in schools. Turns out, now a few years have passed and I have my own children my focus has returned but moved in new and unexpected ways that I feel will not just benefit myself but sharing my experience and knowledge will help others.
Claire Baker- E book “Adore your cycle” Maisie Hill “Period Power”
Alisa Vitti “Woman Code”
Angelique Panagos “The Balance Plan”