Wise Teen Wellness
1st Period Blessings
My Blessing for Your Beloved Girl:
“Every single one of us comes from a woman. Your mother’s body, without ever being told, had the inner wisdom to make you. She made you from the Divine Mystery and from the earth: plants, animals, minerals, water, stardust. You are a child of woman, a child of the earth, a child of the universe. This beautiful planet is your birthright, and just like the earth, YOU are sacred. Your body is sacred. Your blood is beautiful and blessed and is made of the earth. May it rise and flow like the tides of the ocean and take you on your own sacred and amazing journey.”
If you are a woman, do you remember your experience of menarche, your first menstruation? Did you have accurate information about what was happening to you? Did you celebrate with your mom, dad, a friend, or family member? Did you tell anyone or no one at all? Were you embarrassed or ashamed? Did you think you were bleeding to death? When I talk to women and girls, I hear all of these stories and so many more.
The Taboo Topic:
In our culture the topic of menstruation is often taboo, making it a source of great pain and shame for many girls. My advice to moms, dads, and guardians is to start the conversations early. Have lots of conversations, giving your beloved girls (and boys!) a road map to their bodies, a user’s guide. Start with simple information. Encourage questions; answer honestly. It's ok to be nervous; do it anyway. It’s ok to say you don’t know--you can find out together. Girls are starting their periods sooner these days. They usually start bleeding between the ages of 10 and 16, with most girls getting their period between the ages of 12 or 13. It is normal to be irregular at first. It takes practice, just like a baby learning to walk. The flow and timing can vary for the first 2-3 years. Moods can change and often feel more intense. This is all normal.
The first few years of menstruation is usually when I see girls going on birth control pills to “regulate” their cycles. There are many problems with this common practice. When we use exogenous hormones (hormones that are consumed from outside the body), we don’t give our bodies the opportunity to practice the reproductive hormonal cycle for themselves. Imagine giving a baby crutches when it was learning to walk. How would it find it’s own balance and strength? Just like learning to walk, it takes time for the body to master making new hormones like estrogen and progesterone. It takes time to learn what to do with these hormones and how to break them down and recycle them. It is a learning process, just like developing any new physiological skill in the body. The expectation that this hormonal cycle will happen instantaneously, without practice, is the unfortunate way we have learned to treat girl’s bodies. It is a huge disservice to our girls.
Of course, we begin where we are, with girls of any age, but I encourage you to start these explorations and conversations early if you are able, before negative messages take a stronghold. I wish your beloved girls pride, pleasure, and healing on their journey into womanhood!
As teenagers, we go through many emotional and physical changes. I can provide teens with education and support as they go through these changes. I can discuss with you and your family ways to ensure your health. I can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your body as it goes through puberty and the reproductive years. For teenagers, midwives provide education, support, and information through this phase of rapid growth and change. As your midwife, I can partner with you and your family to help you make safe, smart decisions when it comes to your body and your health.
I can provide routine women's health care, pelvic exam if necessary, self led breast exams(Or I can if they choose), and ordering tests (like screenings for sexually transmitted infections). As your midwife, I am available to discuss the many changes that occur as you go through puberty and begin having your periods-from your first sexual experiences to handling peer pressure.
Herbs & Roots Work!
I will provide you with herbs and recipes for using the teas, tinctures and infusions.
Celebrating With A Menstruation Blessing Ceremony:
Let’s celebrate! Consider having a First Moon Party or Red Tent Ceremony.
A first period party is a celebration held to honor the rite of passage of a person’s first menstrual cycle. A first period party confronts the stigma around period head-on by treating them as something that deserves to be celebrated, not hidden. It can be a small gathering involving only your daughter or child’s close friends, or you can plan a bigger bash involving family and friends. It could be a fun sleepover, and dinner party or just a small get-together after school. There’s lots of variety you could go for.
There is no specific structure that period parties need to adhere to. Ultimately it’s about making your daughter or child feel loved and special. It is important for young ladies to know that they are supported, validated, and affirmed, This will increase self-esteem and self-worth which is hugely important around this time of change and transition.
Remember, if you are a woman who had a traumatic menarche experience, it’s never too late to have a healing celebration! In the celebrations that I lead, I always have everyone make a celebration necklace or bracelet to wear when they are menstruating. I have each person write down a wish for themselves or their beloved girl and add it, with their jewelry and some rosebuds, to a pink “period pouch”. We then toast each other with Red Tea( I will provide the recipe). I recommend researching one's own ancestral heritage for additional ideas( see below my lists). You can find books, online resources, or local groups to help you connect with your cultural traditions if the ones I've listed are not listed.
The Red Tent First Moon Ritual- Native American Tradition
What to expect at a Ceremony
Ceremonies are for small groups of no more than 6 -8 young ladies and their tribe (women in their life). I will discuss some of the reasons we feel the ceremony is important, some of the positive and negatives of our cycles bring and how to work with it not against it.
-I will sage the space and everyone who enters will be smudged with sage to clear the old and welcome the new, and asked: ‘How do you enter the circle?’ To which we each answered: “In perfect love and perfect trust!”
-Transition from girlhood to womanhood, we will create a gateway with arms stretched up and hands clasped together. We invite the celebrant to ponder what she would like to leave behind as she moves through the gate, and what was she hoping to move toward.
-A First Moon Necklace Or Bracelet will be made by your tribe to welcome you into womanhood with open arms. We will pass a speaking stick and share our fears, embarrassing moments and words of wisdom to send these young ladies into the wonderful world of womanhood fully armed with knowledge and power.
REMEMBER WHAT IS SAID IN THE CEREMONY , STAYS AT THE CEREMONY. IT'S A SACRED SPACE!
Who can you bring along and how to participate
I encourage Mom's, Aunties, Grandmas, Friends ect to come along and be part of this experience. There is no charge for your tribe. I encourage everyone to wear red. Bring a gift or something special to give to the celebrated girl. Bring a red dish or fruit or dessert.
How old do you have to be to participate in the ceremony
I feel girls in the age bracket of 9 - 14 would benefit from this ceremony. As long as they have started their menstrual cycle their we are happy to accommodate. You do not have to be new to your period to attend a ceremony, you can only have had 1 cycle or you could be in your 4th years of cycles. If you feel you need to honor this then this is for you.
What is included in the price?
The price is $300 includes a 2 hour ceremony around the months new moon with time for open discussions. Red Womb Tea toast welcoming and honoring celebrant into womanhood. Pencil, paper and caldron to write down & release fears, stigmas, negativity. A basket which includes hand made products such as Reusable Pads, Girls Powder Bag, Pocket Crystals, Oil rollers, A Special Book, Journal, Womb Tea, Red Flower Petal or Confetti Toss exiting the circle and a Goddess necklace or bracelet made with love and intention from your tribe.
SEE BELOW FOR ADD ON SERVICES OR OTHER IDEAS TO CREATE INTO THE CEREMONY
I am happy to help facilitate your daughter's special day, while incorporating your own ideas and touches, and making it as unique and special as your daughter! This celebration and ceremony can be a simple gathering or a ritual of your choosing, and is appropriate for families of all religious and cultural backgrounds. I'll meet with you for a pre-planning party consultation, so that we may best facilitate the day's event for this First Moon Celebration.
I offer these suggestions for you to play with and make your own!
I have found that two basic elements are separately very powerful and can be even more so in combination: blessing (words), and ritual (body).
The blessing element consists of spoken and/or written words. These can be traditionally “religious”; however, also very powerful are simple lists of “Blessings I wish for you as you continue to grow” and lists of “What I love and respect and honor about you” reflections of her. These blessings could be written and read out loud, and maybe given to her to treasure, or can just be spoken spontaneously. If other teens/adults are present it can be a nice circle sharing, with each person offering a blessing for the future and a reflection of the girl’s current self/wonderfulness. You can also invite the girl to speak her own blessings for herself, or her wishes for the future, or honor aspects of her own self, or ask questions.
The ritual element involves simple bodily actions which help us connect to magic, time and each other beyond the realm of words. There are so many ways to do this; they are truly infinite.
Some elements can be:
1) FIRE: bonfire, lighting a beautiful candle or just a simple tea light—lighting it to begin the ceremony and blowing it out together to close the ceremony
2) WATER: speaking those blessings (from above) over a pot of special herbal tea as it’s brewing and then drinking it together to take the blessings in and enjoy fruits of the earth (I often like to offer some tea to the earth as well, pouring it out)
3) EARTH: connecting through food and plants, something as simple as having raspberries or red candy or other fruit present to eat during the ceremony, to honor the sacred act of bleeding and the cycle of reproduction
4) AIR: giving a gift she can treasure for years to come (a small piece of jewelry or hand-me-down for example, doesn’t have to be fancy) as part of the ceremony
Yurt holds 12-15 people sitting
Red Moon decorations
Canvas with red paint for fingerprint flower by guests
Red Ribbon & Crystals in a pouch for teen guests
Outdoor table for decor or gifts
Red nail polish to paint each participants pinky nail, the bottle will be left with the girl
Red Crystal Crown
Here is a list of different cultural traditions from around the world, very cool on how they are all so different:
You would be surprised how in a country like India, there are several cultures down south that welcome a girl’s periods as auspicious. A huge celebration is organized when a girl reaches puberty. In the Tamil community, at first the girl is bathed by her close family and fed a nutritious diet but in isolation. After that, she takes another bath, dresses up in the finest garb, and is showered with blessings and gifts. Relatives are invited, priests perform rituals, and delicious meals are prepared to mark the occasion.
In South Africa, a huge party is thrown in honor of a girl’s first period. The girl is gifted several presents but she must stay inside the house for three days, away from men and children as long as her period lasts.
When a girl reaches puberty, her mother makes a traditional dish called sekihan, which a meal comprising of sticky rice and red beans. It’s mandatory for the entire family to consume the dish and guess that the girl has finally got her first period. It sure is an interesting way of announcing the news!
When a Filipino girl gets her first period, her mother washes her bloodied panties with plain water. Then she would smear it on her daughter’s face in an age-long belief that doing so would prevent the latter from getting pimples. The daughter is also supposed to jump three steps from the stairs as it signifies the number of days she will be on her period.
In Brazil, a girl bleeding for the first time becomes a matter of breaking news. Every family member and friend must be told about the occasion – which is seen more as a ritualistic celebration than anything else. It’s wonderful how not just the women but men are also told of the happy news.
When an Italian girl gets her first period, she must be addressed as ‘signorina’ which means ‘miss’ or ‘young lady’. Family and relatives make sure that everyone who knows the girl is given the good news of her first period. So, it’s normal for the girls to feel flushed when people congratulate them in quick succession.
Iceland does it right by baking cakes! When a girl gets her first period, she is treated to a cake baked by her mother. And it’s no ordinary cake either. It’s all red and white symbolizing her daughter’s new milestone. We should totally get behind this custom here in India.
First periods don’t necessarily have to be difficult. By difficult, we mean both in pain and in customs. In Israel, the ritual dictates the girl to lick a spoon of honey. The belief is that by doing so, all her future periods will become ‘easier’ to deal with. No girl would ever say no to that!
The Croatian custom is one step ahead. Forget cakes and honey, here, the girl celebrates her first bleed by drinking a glass of red wine. It’s a custom followed by the older members of the family. Well, the Croatians know exactly how to celebrate life!
Food can make everything better and in Canada, the custom – even though it’s a little stretched over time – says that the girl must go on a berry cleanse when she gets her first period. She can’t eat berries for a year but she can collect and preserve them, and once the year passes, she can eat to her heart’s content – a gesture that celebrates her womanhood!
Periods are not seen as a taboo in Macedonia. When a girl reaches puberty, she is asked to wash her own stained underwear. This simple ritual is practiced widely as it is believed that the girl will get good luck if she washes her own blood.
LaMenarca, a big bathtub outside in the sun for me. This was how my menarca started, and we were going to celebrate my first period. The bathtub was enriched with jasmine flowers, leaves from the cordoncillo plant, orange blossoms, rose petals from Castile, basil, rosemary and, a bit of anise. Afterward, wrapped in a towel and took into the house. Put in a bed and took a thermal ointment called “vaquita” then began to rub the body with a gentle massage. A warm meal of chicken broth and grits for 3 days straight, nothing that could be irritating to the stomach.
Moon Baskets: Sold Separately At Any Time
Moon baskets are gifts (given in a beautiful basket) that can be given to a girl when they reach menarche. I actually like to give them early, to be explored beforehand, and then kept in waiting for that special day. They should help the girl focus on self-care, slowing down, expressing herself, and celebrating her cycle and coming womanhood. Gifts to include in a basket:
Beautiful blank journal
Calendar or moon calendar
Necklace or ring symbolizing moontime (red stone)
Flax & lavender womb warming pillow
Cloth menstrual pads
Cycle tracking bracelet
Pink quartz crystal or moonstone
Coupon to do a special activity with a beloved family member or mentor on their moontime (tea, dinner, ice cream, hot springs, hike, artwork, ceremony)
Books (see resources below)
Herbal recipes (I will provide recipes)
Resources For Teen Health
One can also research one's own ancestral heritage for ideas. You may be able to find books, online resources, or local groups to help you connect with your own cultural traditions. The resources below are a great place to begin.
Reaching for the Moon, by Lucy Pearce
Menarche: A Mother-Daughter Journey, by Rachael Hertogs
Moon Mother, Moon Daughter, by Janet Lucy and Terri Allison
A Blessing Not a Curse: a Mother-Daughter Guide to the Transition from Child to Woman, by Jane Bennett
The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle, by Melia Keeton-Digby
Beautiful Girl: Celebrating the Wonders of Your Body, by Christiane Northrup and Kristina Tracy. Highly recommended for ages 4 – 8 or 10.
It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health, by Robie Harris & Michael Emberley. Ages 10 and up
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls, by Valorie Lee Schafer and Norm Bendell, American Girl Publishing. Ages 8+.
The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for Teens, by Julie Tallard Johnson
Changing Bodies Changing Lives: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships, by Ruth Bell, Three Rivers Press
Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body, by Toni Weschler, Harper Paperbacks, 2006
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens, by Kelly Huegel, Free Spirit, 2011
The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality, by Michael J. Basso, Fairview Press, 2003