We all know that when we have, or are expecting our period, that it can be a waiting game – and sometimes a fairly anxious time too. From not knowing quite when Aunt Flo will arrive in town, to getting caught short with a heavy bleed, to managing PMS, cramps, and just needing to go on anyway!
But it doesn’t have to be a stressful time. It doesn’t have to be the week when we wear our granny pants, sleep on a towel, miss out on swimming and strictly wear black. Instead, period week can be a beautiful, sacred time full of self-care, comfort, feeling great and happy times.
“How….” you ask? Let me share my top tips to help you live life to the full, feel amazing, confident, and beautiful just as you are – even when you’ve got your period.
- Quit the guessing game
Save the guesswork and anxiety by downloading a tracking app on your phone, like Flo, or Kindara, which works out when your next period is due based on the timing of your last one. Or do it old-school and make note of when you have your period in your diary.
Did you know the average cycle lasts between 21-35 days (1 st day of your period marks the start of a cycle), and the average period lasts from 2-7 days? That’s a pretty big difference, hey! That’s why tracking YOUR individual cycle helps you predict when your bleeding might start, so there’ll be no more getting caught out at school!
Another way of guessing when your period will start is to notice how your body, mood and energy changes as you approach your period each month. Have you noticed how you always get cramps, feel bloated, tired, or grumpy, or your skin might break out? You might get all, some, or even no symptoms at all (lucky duck!). Watch out for which symptoms show up for you each month just beforehand, for a simple hint she’s on her way.
Keep a period kit in your bag at all times – even when you don’t think you’ll need it. That way you’re always prepared, or you might even be able to help a friend out if she gets caught out. You can keep spare period pants (Modibodi REDs are AMAZING!) in your bag for just in case. Happy days!
TOP TIP: Stock up at home. Get period products you know and are comfortable using. These days there’s a whole range of items you can use – it’s just a case of finding what you like. Period pants like RED underwear are super comfy, trendy, discreet and convenient. They come in a number of absorbencies for light to heavy flows, so you don’t even need to use any pads or tampons as well! However if you have a very heavy flow, you can always use a tampon or moon cup, and wear your period pants just for good measure! RED by Modibodi comes in a special period pack – 1 per day for 7 days to see you right through!
- Talk about it
Don’t be shy – having your period is a very special and sacred part of being female and is a huge part of every girl and woman’s life.
Fun facts: Did you know that the 1st period (called menarche) can arrive anywhere from the age of 8 for some girls, but more likely around age 12. We bleed monthly (unless we are pregnant or have just had a baby), until menopause which occurs around age 51, and we have on average between 400-500 periods in a lifetime! That’s a lot of periods, hey?
So don’t be shy – instead talk about it to the women and girls in your life about periods. Ask your mum about her first period, when it came, and how she handles hers every month. And ask your friends the same – if theirs has arrived already, ask them what it’s like and how they care for themselves during that time. Doing so helps you all to honour a special rite of passage, and to support each other with love and positivity – so you can embrace your period.
No I’m not crazy! I used to hate my period with a passion. It was heavy, so sore, and I worried endlessly about leaks and always checked my seat when I stood up. But not anymore – I am not ashamed, and nor should I be! Why, you ask? Well now that I celebrate my period, and have learnt how my body and mind need to slow down (see part 3 for more), the discomfort is heaps better. And now I wear my RED by Modibodi pants, I don’t have to worry about leaks, or forgetting my period is due, because they catch every drop, the pants look great, are super comfy, and they always have my back!!
- Honour your flow + slow down
Our female bodies are such a wonder – and your monthly period is just one of the awesome things it can do. Did you know your period blood is the lining of the uterus being released by the body when your body didn’t make a baby – it’s being cleaned out afresh for the new month ahead! As females we cycle – not just our blood but our hormones and energy too – so it’s who we are, it’s to be celebrated, and enjoyed!
As part of our cycle, know that whilst you have your period it’s actually a very natural time to slow down. Our culture today sends the message to girls that nothing should change, no one should know, and you can do everything whilst on your period – like sports, swimming, travelling, hanging out with friends, shopping, and wear all of your favourite clothes.
However, since ancient times, girls and women who had their period took that time to retreat into a ‘red tent’ together to be restful, allowing their bodies to release all their blood in comfort. Our busy lives don’t account for taking a break from very active plans during our period – we can’t all head off to rest together like that these days, because you know, #life, but it’s useful to have this ancient way of living in mind during our period, and to be kind and gentle to ourselves. This is the week for honouring what your body needs to feel rested and pampered – if you feel like you’d prefer to be more restful and less physically active or if you don’t feel very sociable, know that it is perfectly ok – in fact it’s wonderful that you can listen in to your own needs and speak up! I encourage all of you to do so!
TOP TIP: It can be super nice to pamper yourself whilst you’re on your period – for example by smoothing in moisturiser all over your body, or painting your nails, or by making a delicious smoothie which is way better for your bod than chocolate but still feels like a delicious (yet nutritious) treat. Heat a rice pack and have a lie down with it resting on your tummy – the heat soothes away painful cramps. Nap when you need to. Treat your hard-working body well and thank it for supporting you through another month.
Sure, period blood can have a mild odour, but it can’t be smelt through your clothes, especially your RED period pants, and no one will know you’re on your period unless you tell them. So to give you full-to-the-brim confidence follow these rules to feel great:
a) Remember to change your period care items regularly. You should be fine to wear RED period pants for a whole day before changing into a fresh pair to sleep in. If your flow is heavy, you may need to change throughout the day. Alternatively change your tampon every 4 hours, wash out your moon cup every 4-8 hours, or change pads every 2-4 hours depending on how heavy your flow and which thickness pad you have (remembering to put them in the bin not down the loo or you’ll clog it up!)
b) Remember to wash your body daily to keep it clean, fresh and free from bacteria, just as you would every day. Use a gentle mild soap to do so.
c) If you do get a leak, don’t stress, it’s just a little bit of blood and things like this happen to every girl, I’m telling you. Know that you aren’t the first and definitely not the last.
TOP TIP: If you’re at school or out of the house when this happens try to tie a sweater around your waist, or ask the school nurse if they have any spare clothing you can wear. You can wash out the stain using mild soap and cold water – not hot as that sets a stain. Alternatively keep a set of clothing in your school locker for you to change into.
This is where RED period pants are a real life-saver – they’re so absorbent, and have 3 layers to keep you leak-proof, so if you do have heavy flows you could always keep a spare pair of pants in your bag or locker to change into if you need to.
So, there you have it. Managing periods can be hard going without the right strategies in place, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a wonderful week of rest, self-care and pampering, or a time when we kick goals and hang out with mates – either way it’s on your terms. Whether you’re cuddling up with a heatpack and good book, or shopping with friends, you can celebrate your period, decide for yourself what feels good to you, and be #leakproof and winning at life.
With love from Charlotte
Charlotte Pointeaux is a trained youth mentor and Founder of Sister Souls Mentoring, providing empowerment and confidence workshops for girls in the Southern Highlands NSW. Sister Souls aims to empower girls to celebrate all that they are, to raise each other up in sisterhood, and to be bold and live their best lives. www.sistersoulsmentoring.com.au. Follow Sister Souls on Instagram and Facebook for the next event dates, news and inspiration!