This is a guest post contributed by Jess Dawson.
The Crazy Woman – painting by Lucy Pearce
As a mother I have realized how important it is to recognize the phases of the cycle, the moments when we feel like super mum, and the moments when we may struggle and find ourselves not wanting to be mums at all.
After childbirth, many women can experience changes in their menstrual cycle: it is common for women to experience emotional turbulence pre-menstrually, and for physical pain to become worse around ovulation. These changes can be due to a number of factors, most commonly a change in hormones, lack of sleep, irregular eating, increased intake of caffeine and sugar loaded foods, and the pressures of parenthood.
Insomnia, depression, lethargy, boredom, anger and at times a profound need to erase one’s situation are some of the emotions mothers may experience pre-menstrually. During this phase many women mention feeling more irritable, more likely to snap at their children, and of feeling overwhelmed by parental responsibility.
If these feelings are misunderstood and not acknowledged it is easy for the mother to act in a way that can be detrimental to the flow of the home, shouting, crying retreating and being irrational. Children whose mothers suffer during their pre-menstrual phase can present with lower immune systems, shifts in behavior, tantrums, being more stubborn and emotionally shut down. As a result the mother can begin to feel a failure and can become isolated within the home.
By charting our cycles we begin to recognise our highs and lows, when we are supersonic indestructible mother and when we are walking around like a fragile piece of porcelain about to break and when we feel a desperate need to be quiet and alone or when the act of communicating is quite beyond us. We begin to see that all these qualities are a vital part of our inner makeup and offer us deeper insight into ourselves.
We begin to recognise signs in our shifting phases: clumsiness, tiredness, vivid dreams, headaches, raised levels of irritation; and begin to understand that problems in the pre-menstrual phase often arise when we try and work against our inner world. This new awareness helps us become more pragmatic about what needs to happen in our lives. Our cycle is like an internal barometer, like a weather forecast. You wouldn’t send the kids out in a storm without a raincoat on so why make a million plans for a time when all you really need to do is be quiet at home? Of course when we are parents there are a million things that we have no control over, such a sick child, a teething baby, food to cook, clothes to wash, birthday, party to organise, school run etc…)
However, I believe that with good awareness and planning we can be true to our capabilities at any given time in the cycle and as a consequence reduce stress within our life and consequently lower our struggles during our pre-menstrual phase.
Cycle awareness is about acceptance, finding the strength to work with ourselves rather than against ourselves. The beauty of charting your cycle is the recognition of your cyclical pattern of growth, renewal, and rest. Even women who do not have regular periods will find there is still a rhythm and pattern to their cycle.
Top tips for parenting with PMS:
- Sleep without guilt
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol during your pre-menstrual phase and your bleeding.
- Learn to say NO when you know you need to be quiet.
- Plan ahead around your pre- menstrual phase, if you are regular mark it on the calendar.
- Tell you partner what is going on. Don’t expect them to know.
- Eat a good healthy diet.
- If necessary go and speak to your doctor.
Jess Dawson is based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, where she lives with her partner and two children. Jess completed the Women’s Quest apprenticeship in 2012, which is run by Alexandra Pope (author of “The Wild Genie”, “Women’s Quest Workbook” and co-author of “The Pill” with Jane Bennett). She offers workshops on cycle awareness, as well as menstrual coaching for women who want to gain a deeper understanding of their cycle. Jess is passionate about the menstrual story and about reclaiming it for generations of girls to come. She is now guiding women in cycle awareness with the aim of reconnecting the body and mind in order to develop a more constructive relationship with the self, using the Women’s Quest Workbook. For more information contact email@example.com Phone: 07813920287