A bit of a break form the usual birthy blog today, instead i am foraging in to women’s health, namely menstruation. As a sufferer of long painful periods from a very young age i have readily researched and trialed each new supposedly miracle cure that has come on the market. From the pill, both mini and combined, the mirena coil and implant. Its been a pretty rubbish experience. I have always got to the point where i could barely function and then had another baby. Thus allowing myself 2 years (sometimes 2 and half years) of no periods. This is not the reason i have 8 children… That would be madness. After all pregnancy and childbirth coupled with breastfeeding are not without their discomforts (i feel the need to insert a wide smiley face here)
I have recently been introduced to the Red Tent. It’s awonderful novel written by Anita Dimant that sparked a movement. I urge you to find your nearest Red Tent here. The novel tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph. She is a minor character in the bible but the author has broadened her story of how the woman, guided by ancient law, went in to the Red Tent at the start of menstruation or when they gave birth. They find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts. It is not religious but spiritual.
Women are left to suffer in silence now, there is no community for us. Young girls although initially, possibly, excited by the thought of their first period are soon left to get on with it. There is little or no understanding of the process and what is happening to their bodies. There is no ceremony for them. No ceremony for older women entering peri menopause or menopause. We are clueless and stumble in to doctors surgeries to be given prescriptions for fake hormones and painkillers to combat our symptoms and help us carry on with normal life. We need to be allowing ourselves time to reflect and listen to our bodies.
Inside a Red Tent meeting.
Much like birth (you knew i’d get it in here somewhere) how much of the anxiety, pain, confusion and feelings of embarrassment we have during our periods can be attributed to not having the right information and support thus reducing fear and pain levels. I’m not saying women file in to a Red Tent every month and bleed on straw (you must read the book). Just that they attend monthly meetings, new moon usually, to talk over things. Know the process and feel like you have support and understanding. Be allowed to slow down and respond to our bodies needs. Talk freely about what is happening and shed the taboo status it seems to have gained.
I have attended a few Red Tent meetings and feel the need to set up one for girls too. There is so much more to menstruation than biology. It’s a potent cocktail of hormones and emotions too. In search of relief and comfort i have been looking at alternative therapies. Not willing to ask doctors for prescriptions that will halt my bodies natural process but to embrace them and learn more.
I have recently been for an abdominal sacral massage with Tania from Zenses Holistic Therapies. I met Tania on the birthy circuit as she is a pregnancy massage therapist too, one i often refer clients too. We also trained together in the Closing the Bones ceremony. She is a holistic practitioner using massage, energy work, rebozo (traditional Mexican cloth) and visualisation techniques to treat client’s. She has recently completed a course in women’s health, encompassing abdominal sacral massage and fertility massage to bring energy and circulation to many major organs and the digestive system. It can rebalance the body and relieve tension and emotional trauma as well as support reproductive health, the menstrual cycle and fertility.
This is a far reaching treatment, as women we push our stress, anxiety, anger and emotions in to our pelvic region. It can help increase blood flow, strengthen the immune system, improve health of the lymphatic system and increase our sense of well being. It’s combined with a psychological effect too as the wonderful techniques she uses alleviate mental blocks and put you in an improved state of mind.
I arrived at her beautiful studio with my mind wide open. Tania took an extensive history making sure she had all relevant information so she could build up a holistic picture to treat me as optimally and safely as possible. Mexican Rebozo’s lined her massage table and i laid down.
Here she is!
Little bells tinkled as she signalled the start of the massage. It really was amazing. At one point she was opening up sacral points and i felt the energy release and flow, i almost felt like my back was disconnected, it was so freeing! As she moved to the womb work i really felt held. Abdominal massage is not something we typically experience. As a Closing the Bones practitioner i am familiar with how strange women find it until they relax in to it and really enjoy the feeling. Womb massage is so special, a step up, it was above and beyond what i was expecting. It felt like Tania was holding my womb carefully in her hands! Although i knew it was all external it was so powerful she could have been cradling it. Gentle massage and rebozo work combined for a total body experience.
Tania did some lovely meditation and visualisation so i felt completely relaxed and in a zen like state before carefully wrapping me with the rebozo’s and leaving me to come back to earth. I felt so calm and quite emotional. It was an incredibly warming and nurturing experience. Once home i went to bed for an hour just to hold on to that feeling and revel in it.
A truly amazing experience, one every woman or girl should have. Our bodies go through huge hormonal shifts on a daily basis and we need to honour and embrace them. We need to be kind and reconnect with ourselves.
Watch this space as i continue my journey with Tania and talk more about the Red Tent. Please message me for any other details or if you are interested in a Closing the Bones ceremony.