Aunt Flow. Riding the cotton pony. On the rag. Surfing the crimson tide.
Whatever you want to call it, we're talking all about periods today with our friend Tara McCann, who is a women's health coach. She helps women use the power of their menstrual cycle to tune in to what their bodies need. Wait, what? We can use our periods to our advantage? Please, tell us more.
Period Power by Tara McCann
The transition to motherhood can feel overwhelming at times. I know that when my first daughter was born, it felt like an endless loop of feeding, diapers, cuddles, repeat. The days (and nights) felt like a blur.
After the initial adjustment, and as I felt more energy as I moved out of the 4th trimester, I was searching for some structure that would help me feel more like myself again. I was looking to find the woman, who was now also a mother, and to find ways to nurture her too.
At the time, I structured my day by getting out of the house for stroller exercise and baby music classes. I knew that if I could make it until nap time, I was good. After the baby woke up, my husband would be home soon and I would have some help.
Since then, I have found a new framework for structuring my day and my life. I use my menstrual cycle to help me tune in to what my body is asking for, and to help me plan for what’s ahead.
Even if you’re not cycling again yet, you are a cyclical being. You can use the rhythms of the moon to start to tune in to what your body really needs and wants so you can truly nurture yourself.
You may never have thought about your menstrual cycle in this way, but I like to think of it as women’s superpower.
For this discussion, we are going to call the first day of bleeding Day 1. Just know that since this is a cycle, the distinctions between phases and events in the cycle is arbitrary and what we’re really talking about is a flow between the events of menstruation and ovulation.
When bleeding starts our hormones are at their lowest levels. The drop in progesterone from the last half of our cycle has caused the lining of our uterus to shed and we begin bleeding. Women typically menstruate for 3-7 days per month. And, you may notice that your first periods after giving birth are different than what you experienced prior to pregnancy.
You may feel a little more tired or sluggish at this time. Our energy is more tuned into our bodies, and because of the hormonal balance, it is a good time to take stock of what’s happening in our lives. To re-evaluate the past month and start to make plans for the new one.
This is a great time to journal, make plans and set intentions for the month.
As a practice for getting ready for your cycle before it returns, you can use the cycles of the moon. The new moon is the corresponding phase for menstruation.
The follicular phase is usually designated as the days after menstruation has stopped until ovulation. During this phase, the follicle is developing in our ovary. This phase is all about egg growth, getting the egg ready for release (ovulation), and getting the uterus ready for a fertilized egg to implant.
Your energy levels will begin to rise during this phase and you may notice that you have more energy for social events. This is a great time in your cycle to make plans and start to set things in motion. It may not be the best time for getting to all the details, that time is coming, but start getting things moving now.
The follicular phase is like the waxing moon, it’s a time full of possibilities and a good time to dream and plan for what you want next.
The follicular phase is variable, and is not always the same from month to month. Things that affect the follicular phase are poor sleep, travel, illness, stress. So, if your cycle is not consistent, you may want to tune in to what is happening during this time.
Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases the egg and it travels down the fallopian tube to reach the uterus. This usually occurs 8 days to 2 weeks after the first day of menstruation, but since the follicular phase can be variable, you may not ovulate on the same day each cycle.
Right after ovulation, estrogen begins to decrease and progesterone starts to rise. You may find yourself being more social and outgoing and you may notice more people talk to you in the grocery store or on the street. Our verbal skills are high, so we communicate well, and we are more open to others. It is a great time to make a presentation, ask for a raise or schedule an interview.
Ovulation is like the full moon, you’re full of energy and ready to shine!
The luteal phase begins after ovulation; the main hormone is progesterone whose job is to maintain the uterine lining for implantation of the fertilized egg.
Unlike the follicular phase which can vary, the time for the luteal phase is consistent for each woman, usually 12-14 days.
In this portion of your cycle, your hormones are primed to for getting things done. It is a great time to take on tasks like paying bills or clearing out your closet.
Want to Marie Kondo your life? This is the time!
All those details for the plans you were making during the follicular phase, this is when you dive into the details and finish tasks.
This part of your cycle is like waxing moon. At the end of this part of your fertility cycle, you may notice that your energy begins to move more inward as you move toward menstruation.
Your cycle and life.
When you start to track and follow your cycle and the rhythms of how you feel during the month, it can help you to give yourself time for self-care, time to get done what you need to, and ways to nourish your body and soul.
Adding just one line to your bullet journal or a note at the bottom of your calendar each day, can help you to tune in to your own cycle and what your body needs, filling up your own cup so you can take care of those around you.
Tara McCann is a women’s health coach who helps women to use the power of their menstrual cycle to tune in to what their body needs and to work with their body instead of against it. Her coaching work supports women to trust themselves and their body, and to make choices in their nutrition, movement and self-care that support their health and the life they want to create. You can find Tara on Instagram or learn more on her website: www.taramccannwellness.com