At her first bleeding a woman meets her power.
During her bleeding years she practices it.
At menopause she becomes it
Traditional Native American Saying, taken from Moon Time by Lucy H Pearce
I wake up feeling I have not had a good sleep yet I can remember my very vivid dream. I sit at my desk to start working on my blog but I don’t feel like working, it’s like the creativity has been zapped out of me. I walk downstairs to find Sy sat on the sofa watching TV, he says something that really irritates me and I snap back at him.
I crave sugar and chocolate all day. Bedtime couldn’t have come sooner, I feel exhausted and just want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Rose want’s booby but my boobs are sore and Rayne wants a cwtch (Welsh word for cuddle) but I wish they would leave me alone right now.
We put on a film and I start to cry at a sad part. Rayne gives me a hug. “Your period is due isn’t it mum?” she says “Yes! Yes it is my beautiful girl.” She offers me some of her chocolate. Rayne is 8 years old.
I didn’t really understand my menstrual cycle before wanting children. I had been on the contraceptive pill for about 10 years and all I knew was that my period would come in the 5 day break.
When I came off the pill my period stayed very regular, I did LOTS of research around fertility and menstruation and followed all the guidance, then after a year of being off the contraceptive pill we tried for a baby and got pregnant straight away. I learnt more about my body in that one year than I had in my whole 28 years of living!
I found carrying a child so miraculous and I was in awe of my own body’s ability. It was then that I really started to appreciate my body.
After giving birth to Rayne I did not have a period for over 1 year because I was breastfeeding. I welcomed my first period as I felt it was a symbol that I was ready for my second child. This was when I really started to appreciate the menstrual cycle. I was starting to recognise patterns within my cycle and it fascinated me. I felt connected to other mums in my circle and we talked about our cycles and periods in a positive way, not a negative (unless of course someone was trying to conceive).
I wanted to find out more and found a great book called Moon Time, Harness the ever changing energy of your menstrual cycle by Lucy H. Pearce.
The book opened my eyes even more. I started to learn how my own 28 day menstrual cycle correlates closely with the moons cycle (that is for another post!)
It was around this time that I started to realise the important job I had. The job of ensuring my girls grew up understanding their body, it’s functions and importance. I knew that I wanted them to have a positive relationship with menstruation way before they experienced it for themselves.
Now Rayne is 8 years old. She could start her menstrual cycle any time in the next 1- 7 years. She already has an understanding of what menstruation and puberty are and why they are important. She knows how long we bleed for and how long a cycle lasts. She knows that women can feel different things at different times throughout the cycle both physically and emotionally and most importantly, she knows that it is important to listen to her body and give it the love and attention it needs.
Here are my 5 tips to prepare your children for menstruation
#1 Answer questions around menstruation with openness and honesty
if you don’t know the answer, research together. There are lots of great resources from books such as The Period Comic by Florence Igboayaka to youtube videos. Find the ones you like best then watch or read them together
#2 Let them know how you are feeling and that your feelings are linked to your cycle
Did you know that PMS is a condition almost only found in the Western world? In other cultures it is a complaint not heard of by women and medical professionals. PMS has been attributed to a combination of:
- 24/7 lifestyles
- Poor diet
- Mineral deficiencies
- The status of women in our culture
Some of the symptoms of PMS are:
- snappy, short tempered, impatient, angry
- back pain
- forgetfulness, brain fog or difficulty making decisions
- headaches, migraines
So if you explain to your child and even your partner all of the above, next time you are having symptoms you can remind them and hopefully they will understand a bit better. I always tell my girls when I am due to start my period as I start to get really impatient and snappy with them and I want them to know it is not their fault
#3 Leave the bathroom door open!
Menstrual blood is different from blood that comes from a cut. Let her know that it is normal and safe and if she wants to, let her see it. Both my girls have an idea of how to insert a mooncup or a tampon from being allowed to watch me. They have also seen my blood on my reusable sanitary towels before washing them. They were a bit grossed out at first but now they just see it as normal.
I am hoping, by allowing them see me, they will have a healthier understanding and a matter of fact attitude when it comes to them starting their period rather than be scared of it.
#4 Involve the men in the house
If you have a man or boys in your house, involve them too. It is important for everyone in your family to know that menstruation is normal and celebrated. It can also help men understand that PMS is a real thing and should be taken seriously, not made fun of.
#5 Celebrate your daughter’s first bleed
In her book, Celebrating Girls, Virginia Beane Rutter says:
“The reactions of the people close to a girl as she approaches her first period, are carried in her psyche. Whether we celebrate or denigrate her determines the next several years of her life – her adolescent identity. These same circumstances subtly influence all succeeding physical emotion and psychological passages for the rest of her life.
If she is joyously celebrated, she moves into adolescence self-confident and proud of herself as a budding woman. If she is made to feel ashamed of her body, she feels tainted with the shame and self-loathing for being female”.
Whether it is gathering with friends and family or a small gift from you to your daughter such as rose scented bubble bath (whatever suits her personality/what she wants), plan a celebration. I wish I had something special to remember from my first period.
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