Ep 09 - Why Your Period Is Your Superpower with Claire Baker
Claire Baker is a health coach and menstrual cycle awareness teacher. She is the author of 50 Things You Need To Know About Periods. I’m thrilled Claire is joining me in this week’s podcast to talk about how to use your cycle as an empowering gift. She calls your period your ‘superpower’. It’s all about understanding the four seasons of your cycle…
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: April 09, 2021
Here’s a snippet of our conversation…
A return of periods – and power.
Amy: As a 1970s, baby, I'm sure you would appreciate many of us weren’t well educated in the area of menstrual cycles and for a lot of my life it has been immensely overlooked. Thank you for being here and I'm really excited to learn from you. Has this journey come about as a result of personal experience?
Claire: Yes, absolutely. I qualified as a health coach in 2013, and was working with women at the time on self-care, nutrition, movement, diet, creativity and all that good stuff. And at the same time, I was going through my own journey with periods, with being post-contraceptive pills. So I'd stopped taking the pill the year prior and had this really strange experience of my period just vanishing. So I didn't actually bleed for 12 months. So for the whole of 2013, I just didn't have a period. I didn't really even know what it was like to have a natural period or even really what it was like to experience ovulation. So I was just fascinated in learning so much. So, when my period did come back, I was armed with all of this information to begin my own cycle and understanding my own fertility and sharing that information with my clients. And I started to have conversations with the women I was working with around this cycle and asking them if they were noticing some of the changes that I had been noticing. I realized that when my period finished, I suddenly had all of this energy, like physical energy and strength, and that my libido would increase. I'm still a health coach, in the sense that I'm still coaching women on their health and in life coaching and helping them to get from A to B, whatever that looks like for them. But I'm using the menstrual cycle as a framework for them to understand themselves better and to be able to do the things they want to do and be who they want to be.
Time to up the self-care.
Amy: You mentioned that your period disappeared in 2013. Mine disappeared too. I think when I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from something like 2010 to 2012. Would you mind sharing how you got it back, for others who may be going through something similar?
Claire: I began to understand I needed to really up my self-care massively. So I was looking at my gut health, looking at liver health was a really big one. It was also the first year I was in business working for myself. So it was interesting navigating that, but just recognizing that I needed to take care of myself. To rest more, to have regular acupuncture, massages, all of the more yin yoga rather than two spin classes a day. That year I realized that actually I needed to embrace more yin energy and give to my body.
The four seasons of your cycle.
Amy: Learning now about the seasons and how I can perhaps better plan and schedule my months is something that's really exciting and I think will be really wonderful for people to learn. So, can you share with us what the seasons are?
Claire: So the concept that the seasons connect to the menstrual cycle is something that one of my mentors Alexandra Park coined many years ago and I love it because it just makes so much sense. The idea is that we've got these four different hormonal phases in the menstrual cycle and they mirror the four different phases of the year, which is also a cycle. If we think about the seasons of the year, we're moving through a cycle from Winter, Spring, Summer into Autumn. And the same applies to us. We have menstruation, which is when we bleed, the period. And that equates to Winter for us. We then move into the Spring of the cycle, which is when estrogen is increasing and that's the pre-ovulatory phase. And that's leading us up to ovulation, which is the peak of the cycle and the peak of hormones. The release of the egg and ovulation is akin to the Summer of the cycle. It's when we're high energy often, you know, out and about, we want to be with people. We're more resilient, feeling more turned on. Then we move into Autumn, which is the pre-menstrual week. And again, we're slowing down probably going to need more space, taking more time for ourselves – fingers crossed. And that's leading us back down again into that Winter phase. So we're moving through this monthly cycle all the time. And so many of us are doing it with understanding and recognition that we have this like monthly clock going on.
Plan your life around the seasons.
Amy: Could you perhaps explain to us how we might plan our lives around these seasons? So for instance, what sorts of things should we be doing to nurture and nourish ourselves?
Claire: Yeah, great question. Awareness is just the first step towards any new change in our lives. So the first thing is just becoming aware of your own cycle and your own tendencies and desires and needs. Generally Winter is a time when hormones are at the lowest levels for the entire cycle. Plus the body's engaged in the physiological process of shedding your uterine lining. And so it is actually quite normal to feel like you have less energy at that time, and maybe less desire to be out in the world and be at your most social. And so it's just important to listen to your body. My messaging is really around just maybe a little bit more rest at that time is actually what your body needs and maybe it's okay to not be at 100%.
Know when to slow down.
Amy: So, is it normally just the first couple of days that for instance, we might feel particularly tired where we might not try to pack too much in?
Claire: So, if you've got a full day of work, maybe you don't head to the gym after work, or maybe you don't go out for dinner with mates after work as well. Or set the alarm for 5am the next day. Maybe you have a sleep in, ask for more support around the house, or just give yourself half an hour to lie in bed, have a bath. Whatever feels nourishing and replenishing for you because this is the natural point in the cycle to rest. And it is the moment in the cycle where we kind of get to recharge. It's like the pit-stop in the cycle to just recharge, reconnect with ourselves. Just take a moment to stop and pause.
Check in with yourself.
Amy: So aside from simply tracking your cycle, which I do by the health app on my iPhone, what do you recommend we use to do that? Is there a really good app?
Claire: The best way of charting your cycle is essentially the one that you're actually going to do. And so if you're somebody who's on their phone loads and you know that you're going to use an app, then use an app. But I do think there is a certain depth of awareness that comes through actually putting pen to paper and setting aside that time to create that ritual where you do check in with yourself and see how you're feeling and what you need and what's going on for you.
Amy: Thank you for being here.