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We’re all born with the innate wisdom of how to best nourish ourselves. (Just observe a baby who is breastfed on demand!) Although, most adults have become extremely disconnected from their body’s signals and are no longer in tune with when, what, and how much to eat.

This disconnect can begin happening from a young age. When starting solids with babies, one of the most important things I promote is to honor the intuitive ability that babies have to self-regulate their intake.

However, we’re conditioned to convince our babies to “finish the whole jar” of purée. Or we get our toddler to “take one more bite”, or tell them “no dessert until they finish their dinner”.

Eventually these external forces dictate a child's consumption, override their ability to listen to their body’s own needs, and teaches them to ignore their own cues of hunger & satiation.

Combine this with the constant barrage of conflicting dietary advice and it's easy to see why most adults have completely lost touch with how to best nourish themselves.

The word “diet” has become synonymous with weight loss and restriction, but it is actually just the “sum of food consumed by a person”. In other words, it’s what you eat! Unfortunately when we begin trying to figure out what our diet ‘should’ consist of, we’re often left with more questions than answers.

It’s all about tuning into what your own body needs, but how do we do that?

 

Mindful EatingNo one-size-fits-all

Just like the seasons, our bodies go through cycles. So as you change over time, your nutritional needs will change as well. This is all part of an ever-evolving journey of finding balance.

It’s also why there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to eating. Getting into the habit of eating mindfully will help you honestly assess if what you’re consuming is fueling your body in the best way possible.

Habitual eating

Are you a habitual eater? Don't worry, this is a natural human instinct that is even exhibited by very young babies! But it's beneficial to get into the practice of eating mindfully and becoming aware of your patterns. Do you eat when you’re hungry, or do you eat when you’re bored, sad, watching a movie, driving, doing a certain activity? If you know your patterns you can be prepared by having healthy options within reach during those times.

Try tuning into how you feel

There’s no need to do this obsessively, but it’s a beneficial practice to check in with yourself every so often. If done routinely enough, it will eventually become second nature.

1) Before you eat: How hungry are you? What are you craving? Are you feeling bored or emotional?

2) Halfway through your meal: How full are you? Is the food satisfying? Are you feeling present or mindlessly munching? Are you paying attention to the flavors, textures & colors of your meal?

3) 1-3 hours after your meal: How is your digestion (bloating/gas)? How are your energy levels and mood? Are you still feeling satisfied?

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHEATSHEETMindful Eating Made Easy Email * Thank you!  Factors to considerTracking numbers (macros or calories)

When you start listening to the numbers you’re more likely to stop listening to your body. People often become less able to tune into their body’s internal cues when they become dedicated to tracking and letting numbers dictate their diet.

What to do instead? Find a balance that works for you.

Taking some simple measures to balance your meals helps you maintain balanced blood sugar, which can be nothing short of life-changing for some people. I firmly believe that the majority of the population suffer from unbalanced blood sugar on a daily basis, all without knowing that they possess the ability to feel much more vibrant, energetic, and focused.

Symptoms to consider

There are many symptoms that accompany blood sugar irregularities.

You should be especially mindful of maintaining balanced blood sugar if you experience:

  • dramatic shifts in energy (ups & downs)
  • afternoon slumps
  • mood swings
  • sugar cravings
  • trouble focusing / unclear thinking
  • light headedness
  • strong reliance on coffee

Especially if you have

  • hypoglycemia
  • frequent yeast infections
  • diabetes (type 1, 2 or gestational)
  • PCOS

 

Balance Mood & Energy by balancing Meals

My new guide, Oh Baby Essentials, is designed to help you simplify balancing your meals. It’s broken up by macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) to help you mindfully discover which ratio work best to help you meet your needs and reach your goals.

 

Why you don’t need willpower

Don’t be afraid of actually eating! Especially if you eat real foods, whole foods, balance your meals, enjoy what you eat, and listen to your body by obeying your hunger signals and stopping when you’re satiated.

Unfortunately for most, going ‘on a diet’ involves some level of deprivation. Whether this is under eating (not getting enough calories/nutrients) or the mental deprivation of restricting.

Yes, we all know that sugar can detract from our health, but simply cutting sugar (or restricting and avoiding anything in your diet) can leave you feeling very deprived. Plus it can take the pleasure out of eating!

Changing habits is hard, and changing mindset can be even more challenging. If we want to have a healthy relationship with food, we need to rethink our conditioning around food. Food is fuel and necessary nourishment for our bodies. It’s not about less, but rather more. More nourishing, more balance, more mindfulness.

Instead of a long list of foods to avoid, Oh Baby Essentials offers a unique approach that emphasizes healthy alternatives & nutritious swaps. This enables you to make informed choices that will leave you feeling empowered and satisfied, instead of deprived.

 

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Many women are often surprised to learn that after having a baby, you can become pregnant again without actually menstruating first. This is because about 60% of women will ovulate before their first period postpartum. However, only about half of these women will have a long enough luteal phase to sustain a pregnancy after this first ovulation. The other 40% will have some sort of bleeding to indicate their first postpartum ovulation is approaching. Due to the wide variations of returning fertility, it can be very difficult to detect when ovulation occurs for the first time after giving birth.

 

So, what are your chances of conceiving? 

Lactational amenorrhea is the suppression of a menstrual cycle due to the breastfeeding hormone, prolactin. While there are exceptions, exclusively breastfeeding on-demand both day & night, without using of bottles, pumping, or pacifiers usually suppresses fertility until baby starts solids. When this criteria are met, your chances of conceiving before first foods are introduced is about 2%, which is lower than the risk of a fertile woman conceiving using either hormonal birth control pill (8%) or male condoms (15%).

Certain practices have shown to extend lactational amenorrhea, including:

  • frequent nursing
  • lying down when breastfeeding
  • providing baby access to comfort nursing
  • co-sleeping at night
  • napping with baby
  • skin-to-skin
  • babywearing
  • keeping baby close

 

Fertility Awareness Method Postpartum

Before having kids myself, I practiced the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It proved so reliable for me that it was the only method of ‘birth control’ (pregnancy avoidance) my husband and I used. With FAM I was able to closely monitor my fertility signs to both avoid pregnancy and then successfully conceive after we decided to begin trying.

The 3 main fertility signs to monitor are cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and cervical position. However, these can prove much more challenging to observe prior to your cycle returning after having a baby. Before your first period postpartum your hormones still "cycle" and fluctuate as they gear up for ovulation. Eventually they finally surge and drop enough for ovulation, then menstruation to occur. These fluctuations can cause seemingly fertile cervical mucus for several months without actually being fertile yet. Temperature reading are done first thing when you wake up in the morning. Although they're no longer accurate if you experience sleep disturbances, which is usually the reality for most mothers with young children. As for cervical positioning, it can feel different after having a baby and may be difficult to monitor until your cycle returns and you can familiarize yourself with your ‘new normal’.

 An Interview with Ashley Chea

Ashley Chea and I first met at an Ergobaby event in 2017. We each had our daughters with us and they were both 6 months old, born just days apart from each other. When I saw her at the same Ergo event this year, she shared that she was pregnant again with her third baby and that she conceived before the return of her first period postpartum. She was also exclusively breastfeeding her 9 month old at the time and wasn't using bottles or pacifiers. She also slept with her baby and regularly wore her in a carrier as well.

How did you realize you were pregnant and how far along were you when you found out?

I didn't realize until I was about 4 months pregnant. I thought I was dying because I kept having migraines and feeling really sick. I went to the doctor to get an MRI and he said I was pregnant, not dying of a brain tumor like I thought. (I kept having headaches and getting dizzy, which is why I asked for the MRI.)

How old was your youngest when you became pregnant? Were you breastfeeding at that point?

My youngest was 1 year old when I found out I was pregnant, 13 months to be exact. I was still breastfeeding her and had no cycle, so it was a complete surprise. 



Before your pregnancy was confirmed, did you have a suspicion?

Complete surprise for me because we weren't using contraceptives but we weren't trying to make a baby. I assumed that I was safe from getting pregnant because I was breastfeeding and had no cycle. That clearly isn't accurate. 


Does this pregnancy feel quite different than your previous pregnancies?

It has been completely different from my other two pregnancies. I was sick morning and night until about 5 months. I started having severe pelvic pains early on and haven't been able to work out/exercise much at all. This has been my laziest pregnancy. I normally work out 5 times a week while pregnant up until the day I give birth. This time I have had to take it really slow and can barely go on walks without severe pelvic pain and pressure. It has been a very humbling experience for sure. 


Prior to your own experience did you know that it was possible to become pregnant before your first period returned postpartum?

I knew that it was a small possibility but researched and it seemed rare. Especially if you aren't attempting to get pregnant (meaning avoiding that part of intercourse). The pull out method is obviously not a guarantee but I really thought it would work. We used the same method and our first two are seven years apart. So I was extremely surprised when I found out I was pregnant with my third. 

{Note from Carley: Full transparency, this is the method my husband and I use too. I'm currently 20 months postpartum without the return of my cycle and I peed on a pregnancy test immediately after reading Ashley's story. As in, packed the kids into their car seats and drove directly to the store. (It was negative.)} 
Thank you so much for sharing Ashley! You can find Ashley on Instagram at @watermeloneggrolls and her blog.  
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Before going through the transition herself, I don’t think a woman can ever fully prepare for how transformative the journey from maiden to mother truly is. Almost every aspect of your life changes as you adapt to the requirements of your new role, but prior to having kids most women rarely consider how becoming a mother will redefine their sexuality. Probably because the concept is not often talked about openly. When it comes to sex in motherhood, the only thing that’s really discussed is “when intercourse can resume after birth”. But a mother’s sexuality is much more multifaceted than this and a larger conversation needs to be had.

There’s a multitude of factors that may be causing new mothers to feel disconnected from their sexuality, such as shifting hormones, lack of sleep, anxiety, traumatic or disempowering birth experiences, or feeling unfamiliar with their new postpartum body. Not to mention the overarching cultural stigmatization of a woman’s sexuality once she becomes a mother. Sex creates babies but once the duty of procreation is complete, women are basically expected to dismiss this integral essence of their former selves.

Dr. Marlene Ehrler is a Naturopathic Doctor and founder of Motherhood Medicine. She is actively dismantling the oppressive narratives that motherhood and sexuality should remain mutual exclusive. Her incredible work supports mothers in connecting with their sensuality as a vital piece of their health and wholeness.

The changes in a woman’s sexuality and sensuality after becoming a mother aren’t usually talked about. How can creating a dialogue around this assist in better navigating this transition?

I usually start by asking: What does it mean to you to be a mother? Many times the answer is relatively monotone: a caretaker, a homemaker, a woman whose life revolves around her children. Why are our ideas of mothers so singular and passive? You have to have sex to become a mother, so why aren’t mother’s allowed to be seen as sexual beings?

This examination of why we think the way we do is the most foundational place to start. This inner journey often sparks numerous questions and facilitates meaningful dialogue, not only within ourselves, but with other women in our community. Sharing our story normalizes our experience not only for ourselves, but for all mothers.

 

Our culture doesn’t celebrate the multifaceted identities of mothers. How does our conditioning impact our deep seeded notions of sexuality in motherhood?

When you take this unlocked sensual energy that can occur in pregnancy and motherhood and hold it against the light of society’s traditional expectations of a mother, the contrast can be shattering. Then add in the societal constructs of relationship expectations, and the level of judgment becomes exhausting.

Think of a single mother who had her baby “out of wedlock”. What is your immediate impression of her sensuality? Maybe “risky”? Think of a mother who has been married for 4 years, and just had her baby. What is your immediate impression of her sensuality? Maybe “prude”? What if I then told you the single mother was a Nasa space engineer, and the married woman is on unemployment. Did your impressions then change? Why?

Because of our conditioning.

We view the world through conditioned lenses that have been a huge collaboration by our parents, our community, society, media, relationships, organized religion, school, and our lived experience. Sex, sexuality, and sensuality mean something different for everyone, and depending on a woman’s “circumstances” we make judgments of their sexual expression. For whatever reason, the sexuality of mothers is especially taboo and seems to be public domain for judgment.

 

New mothers are often concerned about their low libidos. Is there anything you can you share to help normalize this topic and support women who are going through this.

On a day to day basis, women have 10 times the amount of Oxytocin (the love hormone) than men. After we give birth, and for months (and even years) after, we are swimming in a pool of Oxytocin. We get Oxytocin surges from breastfeeding, from hearing our baby cry, from kissing or smelling our children, or even just looking at them. For men, their levels of Oxytocin only come close to ours at the time of orgasm. After baby, men are still seeking intimacy and connection because this is the only time they experience hormonal equilibrium. However, on a biological level, we as mothers are hormonally satisfied postpartum.

Enter the mama who is probably a bit uncomfortable adjusting to her new body, is swimming in a pool of oxytocin, but is also probably very stressed. Stress hormones stamp out any remaining artifacts of a libido. This is the perfect formula for drastically decreasing our desire for sex. Then add an equally as stressed partner who instead of swimming in an oxytocin pool, is drowning in testosterone (the aggress and protect hormone). Every time baby cries, dad gets a surge in Testosterone (instead of Oxytocin), which makes sense biologically because they need to be able to protect the nest from threats and invaders. Put each of these parents in a bedroom on date night, and mom is going to be surging with oxytocin and stress hormones thinking about baby, and dad is going to be still trying to come up for air in the ocean of testosterone. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it’ss one of the greatest examples of nature’s sense of humor.

But rest assured, this is actually an intelligent design by nature: the high levels of circulating oxytocin in mom and testosterone in dad keep our focus on nurturing our children and ensuring their survival. Additionally, dismal libidos help prevent getting pregnant again too quickly, which would compromise the vitality and survival of our next generation of species! Bravo nature!

 

Having sex and feeling sensual can mean very different things. It's not uncommon for women with young kids to have sex with their partners out of guilt or as an attempt to regain their sensuality. But seeking your sensuality in a partner can prove futile if you haven’t been able to access it from within. What practices can a woman take to connect to and celebrate her sensuality?

My first and most important recommendation is to ask yourself: What brings you pleasure? Whatever it is, do more of it. Make the time. Share your answers with your partner with zero expectation. But until we are fully able to answer that question, where do we begin?

The first thing I see in my practice is the mind not being connected to the body. On a foundational level, this is huge. We must do things that connect us to our body to open the portals for sensuality—and a lot of times this is best accomplished with gentle practices that are done solo.

Herbal body oiling is a tried and true practice that allows us to drop into our bodies and remind ourselves that our skin loves to be loved. I designed the Secrets Women Share Sensual Herbal Body Oil specifically for women who are looking to redefine their sensuality and sexuality. I oil my body every day (most herbalists and wild women I know do too) for the main reason that it is the quickest and easiest way to ignite vitality and creativity both in and out of the bedroom. The targeted botanicals in this formula support energy, reproductive wellness, feelings of safety and calm, promote healthy circulation and acts as a gentle aphrodisiac. Used solo or with a partner, this oil allows us to connect and celebrate our inner flame.

It’s easy for mothers to feel ‘touched out’ after holding and caring for a baby all day. How can anointing or massaging yourself help you reclaim your body and sense of self?

As mothers, we are flooded with nearly constant sensory stimuli (mental, emotional, and physical) and this shoves us into a sympathetic (flight or flight) state—creating the feeling of being “touched out.” Taking time to nourish the nervous system and gently guide it towards the parasympathetic state is a necessity, and I have found that the easiest and most effective way for mothers to do this is through herbal body oiling, and there is science to support it. Oiling the body not only brings immediate relaxation to the nervous system, but also helps sustain that state of relaxation over time with continued practice. The medicinal properties of the herbs in the Eyes Of The World Herbal Body Oil are targeted to help alleviate the effects of stress and tension, all my while protecting our energy and promoting a calm, relaxed state of mind. An additional perk of body oiling is that it can be done in the comfort of our own home at any time, which is crucial for mothers. I often recommend this practice after you have put your children to bed, or when you first wake up in the morning. However, if you pause and retreat to give yourself a quick tune-up in the afternoon, I promise when your kiddo is banging on the bathroom door 30 seconds later, you’ll open it a little more easy going than before!



Thank you so much Marlene!

I'd love to hear your comments below. Are you struggling with a low libido? Do you actively participate in self-care rituals that support your sensuality? Let's share our experiences and help to normalize this important topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The female reproductive system has an unparalleled capacity to resolve inflammation. Just think about the extensive regeneration that occurs throughout the menstrual cycle. This bodily system possesses a remarkable ability to clear tissue debris and quickly re-establish normal function.  

Normal acute inflammation is actually a required component for cellular repair during ovulation, menstruation, implantation, and birth. However excess inflammation is known to be the root cause of a variety of imbalances in the body. You may have never considered it but many women are affected by excess inflammation without even knowing, and it can have a serious impact on your fertility. Several reproductive disorders are accompanied by chronic inflammation, which can significantly reduce your ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Reproductive conditions associated with chronic inflammation include:
  • endometriosis
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts
  • adenomyosis and asherman’s syndrome
  • early menopause (premature ovarian failure)
  • poor sperm and egg quality

Taking measures to reduce excess inflammation could be a crucial component of increasing your fertility. In 1870, Rodulph Virchow, a German physician known as "the father of modern pathology, stated that inflammation is associated with ‘functio laes’a' or loss of function. Along with increased difficulty conceiving, inflammatory reproductive conditions can cause complications with menstruation such as painful periods (dysmenorrhea), excessively heavy periods (menorrhagia), or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).

Even when not accompanied by a reproductive disorder, chronic inflammation can disrupt ovulation, the proper balance of hormones in your body, and endometrial receptivity (otherwise known as implantation). From my post Pineapple For Conception & Brazil Nuts For Implantation.

“A healthy egg, healthy sperm and balanced hormones are all necessary for a successful pregnancy, but equally important is the condition and “receptivity” of the uterus. Recognized as the seed/soil relationship, a fertilized egg must embed itself into the wall of the uterus for implantation, but chronic uterine inflammation is a known cause of implantation failure and early loss.” 
 How To Increase Fertility by reducing InflammationConsume Anti-inflammatory Foods

Include colorful veggies, dark leafy greens, blueberries, pineapple, celery, beets, cruciferous vegetables, wild salmon and oily fish, coconut oil, fermented vegetables and probiotic foods.

Add Turmeric & Ginger

Turmeric and ginger are exceptional at supporting anti-inflammatory pathways in the body. Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, which has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory active compounds such as shogaol, paradol and zingerone. As well as being a well-known digestive aid, ginger possesses the ability to ease menstrual pain, reducing both the duration and intensity of pain. Add these freshly grated roots to your meals, soups, smoothies, or steep them to make an anti-inflammatory tea.

Botanica Fermented Turmeric Ginger is a powerful aid for managing inflammation. It’s fermented using beneficial bacteria, which increases the bioavailability of turmeric and ginger's medicinal properties. Additionally, the fermentation creates new probiotics, enzymes, B vitamins, and micronutrients. Botanica Fermented Turmeric Ginger is also immune boosting and supports healthy digestion. I love all things fermented but the incredible flavor of this effervescent tonic has got to be one of my absolute favorites. 



Reduce Top 5 Inflammatory Foods

This recommendation should probably have a whole blog post on its own, but for now I'll just say that a large portion of many people's everyday diet is made up of the items on this list. However, the human body isn't designed to be eating these inflammatory foods, let alone in the quantities that we do today. Making efforts to reduce these processed foods can be an incredibly impactful step to restoring balance in the body. 

1. Industrial seed oils (also watch for these in processed foods)

  • Canola , corn, grapeseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, and vegetable.

2. Trans Fats  

  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, shortening, and vegan butter spreads made from omega-6 oils.

3. Sugar

4. Refined grains / refined grain products

5. Pasteurized Dairy  

  • Pasteurized dairy promotes the prostaglandins that trigger inflammation. However you may be able to tolerate raw cow or goat cheese, milk kefir, or yogurt (plain & organic).
Reduce Stress

An inflammatory response can be triggered by physical, mental and emotional stress. The stress hormone, cortisol, plays a role in regulating the inflammatory response but its ability to do so becomes significantly dampened by chronic stress.

Relaxation & self-care: Try a variety of relaxation techniques to find one that works for you. A cup of warm tea, gentle yoga/stretches, a bath with lavender and/or epsom salts, meditation or other self-care practices.

Exercise regularly: Maintaining regular exercise promotes relaxation. However your fitness activities should be enjoyable. While making efforts to reduce inflammation, avoid exercise styles that make you emotionally anxious or too physically drained.

 

A special thank you to Botanica for partnering with me on this post. I only ever provide product recommendations that I actually love, trust and use myself… because integrity matters to me.

 

Carley

 

 

 

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Baby Carrier Review: Comparing 6 Ergo Styles - YouTube

I. Love. Babywearing. I honestly can't imagine motherhood without it. A comfortable and reliable carrier is indispensable and it's the first baby item I tell parents-to-be that they absolutely need to own. Truth be told, I'm a hoarder of baby carriers and I've probably cycled through over a dozen in the three years I've been on this motherhood journey. I'm often asked which one I like best and Ergobaby is definitely my favorite brand. This video is my honest review of all the different Ergobaby carriers I've owned and used with my children. I also reveal which style I'd choose if i could only choose one and why I love it the most. 

Includes a review of 6 styles:
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 1st phase is menstruation. This is a time of introspection. In nature, it aligns with winter (yearly cycle), the new moon (monthly cycle), and midnight (daily cycle). 

 Typically lasts between 3-7 days.

 What's Happening Physically?

If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant into the uterine wall during the luteal phase, the lining of your uterine wall sheds to become your period.

 

How It Feels Energetically & Emotionally

You’re raw and vulnerable to becoming depleted, physically and emotionally. You may feel intensely introverted. You’re in a heightened state and more perceptive during this phase. Deep desires can be revealed.

 

How To Tune In & Flow With The Phase

Rest, retreat and reserve your energy. Listen to your body and go inward. Spend time alone or with people who lift you up, while trying to avoid people who feel challenging to connect with. Try to limit pressures to perform and be productive. Indulge in stillness and restorative self-care. Consciously take the opportunity to reflect and focus on releasing things that are no longer serving you.

Try to surround yourself with candles and reduce your exposure to artificial lights and electronic screens in the evenings. 

Move your body: Gentle, flowing movements. It is best not to engage in competitive sports or plan strenuous, high impact exercise.

 

How To Nourish And "Feed" This Phase

Choose warming and comforting cooked foods over cold and raw foods. Use warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Drink tea, especially red raspberry and nettle. Choose iron rich foods to replenish blood loss, and foods high in vitamin C to help increase iron absorption.

 Chart Your Fertility SignsChance of conceiving: Quite unlikely, although not impossible at the end of your period if you have a short cycle.  

Cervical positioning: Low and hard (like the tip of your nose). Slightly open to allow blood to flow out.

Basal body temp: Drops when menstruation begins.

 

An Average 28 Day Cycle  Carley 
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 2nd phase is the follicular phase. It’s full of action and excitement. In nature, it aligns with spring (yearly cycle), the waxing moon (monthly cycle), and sunrise (daily cycle). 

 

What's Happening Physically?

The pituitary gland releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates the follicles in one of your ovaries to mature. You feel lighter and less weighed down during this phase.

 

How It Feels Energetically & Emotionally

Estrogen drives your desire for connection and you feel social this week.

Your mood and brain function get boosted. Your energy is rising and your confidence increases.

Testosterone may make you feel more impulsive and you have a higher pain threshold.

 

How To Tune In & Flow With The Phase

Collaborate, initiate new projects, and be assertive. Go after your dreams.

Problem solve, take more risks, and try new things.

Move your body: Go for challenging and energetic physical activities that you enjoy.

 

How To Nourish And "Feed" This Phase

Well balanced meals help you maintain your accumulating energy without causing spikes. Blood sugar imbalances can disrupt approaching ovulation, so be mindful of refined sugars and processed grain products.  

 

Chart Your Fertility SignsChance of conceiving: Good, especially leading up to ovulation. An egg isn’t released during this phase but sperm can live in a woman's body for up to five days.

Cervical mucous: Early in the phase a slight dampness will be present when you check your cervical fluid, similar to touching the inside of your mouth. Leading up to ovulation it can be opaque white or yellow. Texture becomes thick, sticky, pasty, or crumbly. As estrogen rises it then starts to become thinner and creamy. This fertile phase usually starts about three to five days prior to an egg being released. The creamy fluid protects and nourishes sperm waiting for ovulation inside a woman’s body.

Cervical positioning: Starts off relatively low, firm, dry and tightly closed. Over the course of this phase it becomes higher, softer and wetter.

Basal body temp: Will be lower and stable during this phase, averaging between 97.0 and 97.7.

 

An average 28 day cycle

Read Next: How To Live In Sync With Your Cycle: Menstruation

Carley
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 3rd phase is ovulation. The peak moment of a woman’s cycle. In nature, it aligns with summer (yearly cycle), the full moon (monthly cycle), and mid-day sun (daily cycle).

Typically lasts between 2-3 days.

What's Happening Physically?


Luteinizing Hormone surges causing the dominant follicle to burst and release its egg into the fallopian tube. The egg survives for a 12-24 hour window. Studies show that you are perceived as more attractive during this phase. Your 5 senses may become heightened.

Some women can feel when they’re ovulating and describe the sensation as a sudden twinge or pop in the lower abdomen, just inside the hip bone. Either on the right or left side, depending on which ovary is releasing an egg. However, ovulation pain that is severe or debilitating is not considered normal and should be discussed with a specialist.

Less than 10% of women experience light spotting during ovulation.



How It Feels Energetically & Emotionally


The ovulatory phase is ripe and juicy. Things feel easier, you want to have fun and be flirty. Libido is high and you feel sexy.


You’re confident, it’s easy to verbalize your thoughts and feelings. You’re more receptive to new ideas.



How To Tune In & Flow With The Phase


You’re self assured and assertive, so schedule networking, speaking events, and job interviews.

Be social. Go out. Make connections and meet new people.

Move your body with high impact and high energy. Exert yourself. Group classes are great during this phase.  

 

How To Nourish And "Feed" This Phase


Eat light and easily digestible foods, such as fruit, veggies, and leafy greens. Sulfur-rich vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower will support the liver in detoxifying excess hormones during this time.

If trying to conceive:

Alkalizing foods support the survival of sperm during this phase.


Chart Your Fertility Signs
Chance of conceiving: high. Try to achieve or avoid pregnancy accordingly. 


Cervical mucous: Is most abundant and noticeable during this phase. It becomes very slippery and lubricative. It’s often clear and stretchy with a raw “egg white” consistency. The vagina is usually acidic, but this cervical mucous is alkalizing to aid sperm survival and motility and helps sperm swim up through the cervix.
 
Cervical positioning: Becomes soft, raises higher, and opens to allow sperm to enter.

Basal body temp: body temperature rises about 0.5 degrees.

The phases in an average 28 day cycle 

Read Next: How To Live In Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Follicular Phase

 Carley 
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This series was created to help you tune in and harness the power of your menstrual cycle. Learn more: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Intro

The 4th and final phase is the luteal phase. It begins after ovulation and ends on the first day of menstruation. In nature, it aligns with autumn (yearly cycle), the waning moon cycle (monthly cycle), and sunset (daily cycle). 

Typically lasts between 12 to 16 days.

 What's happening Physically?

Progesterone dominates and causes the uterine wall to thicken, preparing for the potential of a fertilized egg to implant. If implantation doesn't occur, the body then prepares for menstrual shedding.

If you experience PMS, it is a sign of underlying hormonal imbalances asking to be addressed.

 How it feels energetically & emotionally

You're less social & outgoing. Less interested in people pleasing. Prefer solo, detail-oriented tasks. You may feel isolated and things may feel convoluted. Your pain threshold is lower during this time. 

 How to tune in & flow with the phase

Rest & relax, especially towards the end of this phase leading into menstruation.

Take stock, listen to your intuition, let go of things that aren’t serving you.

Move your body with restorative exercise.

 How to nourish and "feed" this phase

Metabolism increases, which increases appetite. Eat denser, grounding foods like roasted root vegetables/squash. Magnesium rich foods (almonds, spinach, soaked quinoa). Consume raw cacao.

If you experience PMS symptoms such as anxiety, depression, water retention, cravings, or pain, read: Nourish Your Moon Cycle & Reduce PMS.

If trying to conceive:

Consume anti-inflammatory foods to aid in uterine receptivity/implantation.

Consume antioxidant-rich foods to support rapid cell division of fertilized egg that would take place during this time.

While the luteal phase usually lasts between 12 to 16 days, a short luteal phase (one that lasts less than 10 days) negatively impacts fertility. This means that the body isn't producing enough progesterone, which is essential for implantation and a successful pregnancy.

 Chart your fertility signsChance of conceiving: low.

Cervical mucous: Following the lubricating cervical mucous in the ovulatory phase, cervical mucous in the luteal phase may now be thick, creamy, or pasty to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.

Cervical positioning: is more closed, firm & lower also to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.

Basal body temp: A thermal shift follows ovulation and temperatures will remain higher during the luteal phase. If it remains high, you’ve likely got a bun in the oven!

 An average 28 day cycle

Read Next: How To Live in Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Ovulatory Phase

 Carley
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Just like the lunar cycle, there are 4 different phases of the menstrual cycle. Changing hormones in each phase can heavily influence your mood, emotions, energy, food cravings & more. Many modern women expect a consistent level of productivity and performance from themselves day after day, without being conscientious of their body's natural fluctuations. You have the ability to live much more harmoniously when you start living in sync with your menstual cycle, and begin working with the ebbs & flows instead of against them. 

In a recent interview, I was asked what I was passionate about. The first answer that came to mind, "anything that comes out of a vagina". Well, babies (obviously) but I also think it's really important to discuss the other things that are often considered more private… like menstrual blood and cervical mucous (sometimes referred to as 'discharge'). These things can tell you so much about your body and your health. But there's a lot of misconception surrounding these topics because they're not often talked about openly. Most women don't know how to read their cycles, or that normal monthly cervical mucous reveals incredibly insightful cues about your fertility.

READ: Charting Your Cycle, How To Tell When You’re Most Fertile

When it comes to your reproductive health, knowledge is power. I want all menstruating people to know that there is a largely untapped power that can be harnessed by familiarizing yourself with the cyclical rhythms of your body.

I'm forever fascinated with the menstrual cycle and its impact on our everyday lives. I've created this series to help you tune in and harness the power of your own flow.

This series highlights each of the 4 phases and includes:

  • what's happening physically
  • how it feels energetically & emotionally
  • how to nourish or “feed” each phase
  • how it relates to the lunar cycle & seasons
  • how to tune into each phase
  • the best way to move (or rest) your body
  • and (my personal favorite) how to read your signs of fertility to help you achieve or avoid pregnancy

Read Next: How To Live In Sync With Your Menstrual Cycle: Luteal Phase

 Carley 
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