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Postpartum Period Talk: What to Know About Your First Menses After Birth

At some point in your first 1-3 years postpartum, (most likely) your menstrual cycle will return. We find every woman and birthing person handles this differently. Some mourn the soft quiet of a body without transition. Others hold a more stoic view of the experience. “Well, it was going to come back eventually!”

What to expect for that first period

First postpartum periods tend to be heavier, more painful, and slightly more emotionally challenging (especially as you’re caring for a baby/babies or toddler!). They may make breastfeeding more painful. You might experience low back pain. Your pads might leak. Tampons might feel less comfortable than before. If you reach out to your Doula or Midwife, they’ll most likely advise a visit to your local Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist for a lot of these challenges. They might recommend certain herbs or practices, including meditation, too.

Pelvic Floor PT’s have suggestions on how to make a lot of these difficulties feel less invasive; and can even support certain changes – like postpartum muscle laxity causing cramps or back, hip, or upper thigh tenderness.

If your period seems particularly challenging, meeting with a Cherry Blossom Womb Care Specialist, Postpartum Yoga Specialist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, or Naturopath might also be helpful. If you’re looking to read more about and support hormone health at home, we suggest Dr. Aviva Romm’s Hormone Intelligence, Dr. Oscar Serrallach’s The Postnatal Depletion Cure, Susun Weed’s Herbal for the Childbearing Year, and Dr. Cassandra Vieten’s Mindful Motherhood, amongst many valuable others.

(You can contact your doula here for more recommendations or book Womb Care with our team, today.)

Making your moon cycle a sacred space after baby

Every feeling you have about the experience of your first postpartum period is normal, of course. But what about practices or rituals? Can they make this sacred space feel a little more… sacred? Below, we’ve listed a few thoughts that you might like to come back to when your first menses post birth begins.

1. Connect with the matriarchs in your family, including safe ancestors. In the Tikuna Tribe of Brazil, when a young girl first menstruates, she is sent to live in a house alone for one year. She’s only allowed one visitor: her grandmother. In that time, her grandmother teaches her many traditional skills, including weaving, identifying medicinal plants, and caring for families.

2. Find practices that honor your moon cycle. A warm cup of tea in silence, offering your prayers and energy for the world, perhaps. The Hupa people believe menstruation is so influential, it can restore balance in the world — a reminder to give your period at least a moment of appreciation, even on the days when you wish it could spontaneously disappear.

3. Honor that while you are caring for others, it’s time to take a break. No matter how small. The Ojibwe believe that, as women menstruate, they slough off the accumulated experience and stress of being female. Their tradition shows us just how impactful meditative practices can be – in particular, using our period as a time to step back from hectic schedules, breathe, and feel at home in our bodies.

4. And finally, remember to tap into patience and grace for yourself. Mood swings might be a sign you need to slow down, imbibe in healthy, warm food choices, try certain herbs, or ask for help with overwhelming tasks. Fatigue might mean it’s time to see a practitioner who specializes in hormone health. Discomfort may be a warning sign that your digestive fire is off, and you may need minerals, vitamins and herbs to round out your menstrual routine.

One last thing. You’re worth it. Whatever you need to be within this tender space. You’re worth it.

Reflecting on this season

After reading through this post, are there certain practices or rituals would you like to reclaim? Does it resonate to meet with a pelvic floor practitioner? Catch up with your doula, midwife or IBCLC? Do you need a book to tune into to make this space feel more of your own – and less of a burden that has been placed upon your back? Do you need to schedule a yoga class or meet with your massage therapist?

Remember, you can normalize all of the aspects of postpartum life by just being in it and asking for what you need right here. Again, you are worth it. And together, we can impact this next generation of womb-bearers by honoring the incredible gift that it is to bleed.

Post adapted from social media education by Postpartum Director and Ayurvedic Postpartum Specialist, Jennifer Magnano of Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC. You can find more of these posts on Instagram and Facebook.

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