Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How To Get Comfy When You've Got Your Period

*This post is sponsored by Natracare. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life.*

As a woman, you can expect to get your period about 450 times over 30+ years. With a long list of potential monthly symptoms such as muscle aches, headaches, bloating, tender breasts, fatigue, acne, digestive upset and the dreaded menstrual cramps, periods aren't for the faint of heart. Good thing women are so strong.

As much as we try to ensure that our menstrual cycles don't interfere with our jobs and routines, we can certainly benefit from some extra love and care when we're on our periods. Don't feel guilty if you need to take a time out from the world. I know this can be hard to do if you're working a lot or if you have small children, but try to get some rest when possible. With this in mind, I'm sharing suggestions for 10 simple ways to nurture yourself when you have your period. Go ahead and get cozy!

1. Outfit a comfort drawer

Outfit a drawer, basket or bin with items that will help you to relax when you have your period. Include fuzzy socks, tea bags (try peppermint, red raspberry leaf or chamomile to ease period symptoms), portable snacks such as granola bars, pain remedies recommended by your naturopath or medical doctor, a journal and a pen for recording thoughts and feelings, a pleasantly scented candle and a good book. Chocolate can't hurt either. Having these things readily available in one spot will make things easier if you're feeling moody, tired or frustrated.

2. Take a bath

A warm bath can soothe cramps and muscle aches. I like to add two cups of Epsom salts (aka magnesium sulfate) to the water for extra relief. We have found it works wonders with cramps in our house. Speaking of magnesium, dietary magnesium (whether from food or supplements) may help ease the pain of menstrual cramps. If you suffer with cramps, talk to your medical professional about magnesium supplementation. 

3. Put on comfortable clothing

Now is the time to don your favourite sweats. A tight waistband can be irritating when you're bloated or experiencing painful cramps. Get out your period undies too - you know, the cotton ones that are comfortable but snug enough to keep pads in place.

4. Plug in a heating pad

If you're suffering pain from cramps (uterine contractions), a warm heating pad or hot water bottle placed on your pelvis can be your best friend. 

5. Stock up on feminine care products

There's nothing worse than getting your period and finding you don't have a single pad or tampon in the house. (I don't know how many husbands will agree to hit the drug store in search of pads.) To avoid this problem, keep a good stock of feminine care products. Choose organic cotton tampons and plastic- and chemical-free pads to do your body and the environment a favour. Natracare pads, tampons and intimate wipes help you to avoid the risk of allergic reaction (bumps and itching!) caused by exposure to synthetic materials and chemicals. Avoid leakage by choosing the right products for your body and the stage of your period that you're at. Natracare has multiple options, to suit heavier days or overnights. Change your pads or tampons regularly throughout the day to avoid leaks too. 

6. Find your zen

As much as you crave relaxation, gentle movement can help ease your period symptoms. Check out these videos to start: Yoga For PMS Pain & Period Cramps Relief and Yoga For Mood Swings. If you're not feeling up to doing yoga, just focus on your breathing from your perch on the couch. Breathe through your nose, filling up your belly, for five or six seconds, exhaling slowly through your mouth. Repeat several times to help you relax.

7. Netflix and repeat

Now is as good a time as any to marathon-watch the Bourne movies, the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or whatever TV shows or movies calm your mind, relax your body and lift your mood.

8. Use essential oils

Essential oils may reduce pain from menstrual cramps. This study found that patients with primary dysmenorrhea (cramping pain before or during menstruation) were able to reduce pain by massaging their lower abdomens with a blend of lavender, clary sage and marjoram essential oils diluted in unscented cream. I like to mix a few drops of lavender essential oil with coconut oil to rub on my abdomen and pelvis when cramps strike. You can also diffuse essential oils in the air for a more pleasant environment.

9. Create a period playlist

The right music can help to reduce stress and relax your muscles and your mind. Put together a playlist of songs that bring you comfort. Some of my favourite soothing songs are Stick in the Mud by The Jayhawks, Which Way Your Heart Will Go by Mason Jennings, Achin' All The Time by Ray Lamontagne, Gimme Sympathy by Metric, Some Misunderstanding by Soulsavers, Let Us Down Easy by Ryan Adams and Sally Don't You Cry by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. These songs are all from the playlist I play while reading in the bath.

10. Eat healthy meals and snacks

You're tired, cranky and craving sweets. Indulge yourself a bit (see chocolate above), but try to eat healthy too. You'll boost your intake of much-needed vitamins and minerals and feel better in the long run. Munch on almonds for calcium and protein. Chop up an apple and serve it over oatmeal for a great source of fibre. Choose plant-based sources of iron such as beans, peas, lentils and tofu. 

What's wrong with conventional sanitary pads?

Conventional sanitary pads are roughly 90% plastic. Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are thrown out. 45 billion. Plastics used in sanitary pads, liners and tampon applicators do not biodegrade and remain unchanged for hundreds of years. Natracare products are made from renewable, biodegradable and compostable materials including organic cotton, bioplastics (made from plant starches) and wood pulp. Choosing plastic-free sanitary products helps to reduce plastic production (which releases toxic pollution into the environment, contributing to global warming and affecting human health) and plastic waste (which is either incinerated or added to landfill). Natracare products are sustainably sourced and processed without releasing toxic chemicals. They are totally chlorine free, biodegradable and can be composted too!

What are you putting into your body?

Environmental benefits aside, what do you want to put next to and into your body? I'm sure chemicals and plastics aren't first on your list. And if you have a daughter, you'll want to start her on the right path, with healthy, plastic-free sanitary products made from certified organic cotton. I cloth-diapered my kids for this very reason. I want my teen to use natural products whenever possible too. Natracare products are soft on your skin and free from these nasty ingredients (commonly found in conventional feminine hygiene products): plastic, poly-acrylate superabsorbents (SAPs), petroleum derivatives, synthetic ingredients, latex and perfume.

Natracare's plant-based ingredients lock away menstrual fluid without synthetic materials so your skin is able to breathe and stay dry. If you are looking for a way to freshen up quickly when you have your period, Natracare intimate wipes can help - they are free from synthetics, petroleum derivatives, alcohol, parabens, formaldehyde and phenoxyethanol, many of which have been linked to skin irritation. If you're a tampon user, you might want to read this interesting piece about fibre loss in conventional tampons.

About Natracare

Natracare was founded in 1989 by vegetarian Susie Hewson. None of Natracare's raw materials or finished products are tested on animals. The products are free from all animal ingredients. They are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, with certification from the Vegetarian Society. Natracare also looks out for wildlife. Estimates suggest pesticides kill 67 million birds each year in the USA alone. Choose organic to protect wildlife from these damaging effects.

Natracare firsts

I discovered Natracare products at my local health food store many years ago. Natracare offered the world's first alternative to conventionally produced menstrual products, including the first certified organic tampons and totally chlorine-free sanitary pads and panty liners. Natracare is now the global leader in non-toxic, sustainable and ethical menstrual and maternity products. They are also the first-ever brand to measure the complete lifecycle of their menstrual pads - from creation and transport, to use by the consumer, to the return of the pad to the Earth. In this way, they ensure the soft impact of their sustainably sourced raw materials. Plus, I find their pads super comfortable and non-irritating. Considering how many pads we use in a lifetime, comfort is pretty darn important.

Get comfy girl

Being a woman definitely has its challenges. In addition to tricky menstrual cycles, we have long to-do lists, multiple demands on our time and a tendency to lie awake at night thinking about our responsibilities. Please remember you deserve some nurturing too. Take time to rest, relax and enjoy the activities you love. Especially when you've got your period!

Questions for you

How do you get comfy when you have your period? What kinds of symptoms do you have to cope with? 

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10 Ways To Get Comfy When You've Got Your Period


  1. Sound great for the environment! I hope more and more people become aware and use these products.

  2. Diva cup user for life! I will never go back to pads and tampons, though your natural ones do sound much more environmentally friendly than regular ones.

    1. I haven't tried the Diva cup. I'm glad it's working well for you. So great that we have all of these more natural options available to us. :)