We've all been there. You get your period and the cramps follow. First they are just minor but they build until you are popping pills, plugging in your heating pad and calling in sick to work.
Sometimes it's manageable, but sometimes the pain is so intense that you lay on your bed crying.
Does this happen every month for you?
Well it doesn't have to. You can go through your cycle without worrying that you are going to have to go through the cramping, headache and backache pain again.
Period and pain do not have to be in the same sentence. It is not a requirement that you feel like hell when you menstruate. This is just something we are made to believe.
Here's how to have a pain free period:
1. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods
Anti-inflammatory foods are natural pain killers. Rather than popping an Advil when you are in pain, try to consume as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible throughout your cycle.
What are anti-inflammatory foods? Berries, cruciferous vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, kale), leafy green vegetables and beets are just a few. Try to consume a wide variety daily.
Foods to avoid? Red meat and saturated fats. Why? They contain arachidonic acid which actually makes pain and causes inflammation. Also avoid refined and artificial sugars, as these also cause inflammation.
2. Seed Cycle.
Plant based omega 3's and omega 6's are also pain killers as they help lower inflammation. These can be found in seeds and used throughout the cycle to balance hormones and reduce pain.
The vitamins, nutrients and oils in seeds help support your body's creation, release and metabolism of hormones. The lignans in seeds help bind excess estrogen, and the omega 3's help keep the hormones in balance. Hormones that are out of whack are probably going to lead to some uncomfortable periods.
To learn how to seed cycle click here
3. Take Magnesium.
Ever wonder why you crave chocolate right around the time you menstruate? It's because chocolate is rich in magnesium and your body is deficient in it.
How else do you know you are deficient in magnesium? Headaches, excessive body odour, nausea, muscle spasms and constipation are all signs of a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is incredibly important for helping the nerves and muscles maintain their function and is a natural muscle relaxant. A deficiency in magnesium is common among women, and can be caused by stress, sweating, caffeine and sugar intake.
Eating magnesium rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, apricots, asparagus, avocados, beans, sprouts, berries, almonds, whole grains and bananas are a good start in getting more magnesium into your body. But the soil our food is grown in has been depleted of many nutrients, including magnesium, and therefore the food we eat doesn't contain magnesium in high enough levels as we need.
Supplementing with magnesium is often recommended, especially if you are suffering from painful periods. The most absorbable form is magnesium glycinate. If you are often constipated, try magnesium citrate as it can have more of a laxative affect. Take magnesium throughout your cycle and increase around the time when you menstruate.
Magnesium baths are also a good way to relax and absorb magnesium, as our skin absorbs things through it very easily. Use magnesium bath salts to help with cramping or as part of a routine in case of deficiency.
4.Balance your hormones.
If your hormones are out of whack then you probably are going to experience pain with your periods. Balancing your hormones out is the best way to eliminate the pain, but it does take time.
Step 1: First you need to clean up your liver. Our livers take a beating on the daily with the amount of chemicals we ingest, smear on our skin and breathe in. Not to mention the junk foods we do eat and the lack of liver supporting foods we don't eat.
Cruciferous vegetables, bitter foods, calcium d'glucarate foods and teas like milk thistle and dandelion help cleanse the liver of excess hormones (think estrogen). These should be eaten daily and in abundance, and saturated fats, alcohol, refined and artificial sugars should be eaten sparingly.
Step 2: Support the adrenals. Your adrenals make progesterone. When you're stressed, the adrenals grab progesterone to make cortisol. A surplus of cortisol is linked to many symptoms including fatigue, blood sugar problems, weigh gain, depression, mood swings and anxiety. Excess cortisol can also suppress thyroid function, put extra pressure on the liver, hinder sex hormones and inhibit digestive and intestinal function.
If you can support your adrenals by taking adaptogens such as maca root and schizandra, manage stress and take licorice root and ginseng teas, then you will be well on your way to balancing your hormones for pain free periods.
There you have it. Pain free periods.
If you can feed your hormones foods they love, consume anti-inflammatory foods regularly, seed cycle and supplement with magnesium you will be well on your way to having a pain free period.
Even doing one of the above mentioned might be your key to a healthier and happier cycle. So by the time your period rolls around you can embrace it with the love that it deserves. For it is a beautiful reminder that us women are special human beings with a monthly cycle that gives us different gifts at different times of the month, with the period marking our time to deepen our level of connection to the universe.
Love and light xo,
Do you know if your hormones are out of whack?
Fatigue, emotional ups and downs, trouble falling/staying asleep, PMS, sore breasts around your cycle, the need for caffeine to stay awake, overly oily/dry/acne prone skin, menopausal symptoms, irritability and infertility are all linked to hormones that are not in alignment.
Foods that cleanse and support the liver (cruciferous vegetables, bitter foods, etc.), maca root, deep belly breathing and morning lemon water are all good starts to getting your hormones in check (for more information on hormone balancing see here).
But I want to give you another tool to help your body come back and stay in alignment.
It's called seed cycling.
Seed cycling can help you balance your hormones so that your menstrual cycle can balance out, you can gain more energy, your skin can become smooth and conception can happen (if that is your goal).
And guess what? It's really easy. With seed cycling you will be rotating different seeds during your cycle to support optimal hormonal balance. The vitamins, nutrients and oils in seeds help support your body's creation, release and metabolism of hormones. The lignans in the seeds help bind excess estrogen and the omega 3's help keep the hormones in balance.
The seeds used in seed cycling are flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds in particular have been shown to lengthen the luteal phase and result in a less likely chance that you will not ovulate. The zinc in pumpkin seeds helps the body release progesterone, as well as the zinc in sesame seeds. The selenium in sesame seeds also helps the body release progesterone. Try to seed cycle for about three months, or longer, for optimal results.
How To Balance Your Hormones With Seeds
During your Menstrual (when you menstruate) and Follicular Phase (the few days following menstruation) :
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Flax Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Pumpkin Seeds daily
During your Ovulatory (just after the follicular phase when you release an egg) and Luteal Phase (the phase following ovulation):
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Sesame Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Sunflower Seeds daily
Grind your seeds in a clean coffee grinder or mini food processor every morning, or if you are short on time, grind your seeds for a few days worth and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. As with any food, it is best to buy your seeds organically. This lessens the chance that your hormones will be disrupted by hormone disrupting chemicals found on and in conventional foods.
An easy way to eat your seeds every day is to consume them at breakfast. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, put them in your smoothies/smoothie bowls or on top of your yogurt. You can also sprinkle them on your salads or blend them into energy balls.
Love and light xo,
Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to connect with your baby. The oxytocin released while breastfeeding can bring you and your little one closer. Being able to feed your baby from your very own body can be an empowering experience.
Some women are lucky and produce milk easily, while other women struggle to produce enough milk for their baby. Low milk production can create stress, frustration and sadness in women who aren't able to produce as much as needed for their growing baby.
If you are struggling with low milk production, here are 5 tips for you to help increase your milk supply.
1. Try Galactagogues
Galactagogues are herbal substances used to increase a nursing mother's milk supply. Moringa, fennel, fenugreek, alfalfa and nettle are just some of the different galactagogues that may help increase your milk supply.
You can usually find nursing teas with a mix of these herbs at your local health food store which are an easy way to take them.
2. Eat Fruit
Breastmilk contains a high amount of sugar to provide a baby with the energy it needs to grow and thrive. It is important to start eating in a way that supports this high sugar production to produce as much breastmilk as possible. The best way to do this is to eat glucose containing foods, and the best sources of glucose are fruit, honey and coconut water.
When I speak about eating more fruit I don't just mean add an extra apple a day. I'm talking about eating fruit all day long. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Make it a priority and you may see an increase in your breastmilk production.
3. Stay Hydrated
Breastmilk is about 87% water, so getting enough to drink is going to be important. You need to drink enough water to create your breastmilk and also fulfill all your hydration needs.
The best indicator that you are well hydrated is very pale yellow to clear urine. Make sure that you drink good quality, filtered water. If you have a hard time drinking a lot of water, make it more exciting by adding slices of fresh lemon or limes, fruits like watermelon or strawberries or herbs like mint or parsley.
4. Nurse More
Nursing your baby more often is one of the best ways to increase milk production. Nursing is a supply and demand system. The amount your baby nurses tells your body how much milk to produce, so the more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce.
5. Take Care Of Your Needs
Your pregnancy is over but that doesn't mean you get to stop taking care of yourself. What you eat and what you do directly affects your baby. Your baby gets all of its nutrition from your milk, so making sure that your body is getting what it needs for baby as well as yourself is very important. The more nutritionally "full" you are, the better your body works. The better your body works the more efficiently it can make milk.
I recommend that women who are breastfeeding continue to take a pre-natal vitamin as well as iron and a probiotic. Continuing to avoid caffeine and alcohol are important. And although it may be very hard, get as much rest as possible. Sleep when baby sleeps, don't take on too many projects and learn to say NO. The more rested and well cared for your body is, the better it will be at making food for your baby.
*On a side note, a great supplement to take during breastfeeding is chlorella. Not only is it a blood purifier and a liver detoxifier, it helps cleanse breast milk by decreasing the dioxins in breast milk. As a breastfeeding mom myself, chlorella is an important supplement in my diet.
Remember, whatever way you choose to feed your baby is the right way for you and your little one. Whether it's breastmilk or formula or a mixture of both, the important thing is to spend the time holding your baby and bonding with it. Skin to skin is one of the best ways to feel close to baby and to help baby feel close to you.
Love and light xo,
Photos by Alexis Feist Photography