Mother's Day and Women's Health

Hey Ambitious Mamas!

I love that we set aside a whole day to honor and celebrate the women who raised us. My mom was an amazing mother (and still is!) who has dedicated her life to raising my brother and I while managing to work crazy hours as a flight attendant. She is selfless, strong, and one of the most beautiful woman I know. I am always amazed by the power that mother’s possess - they somehow seem to be able to take on the world and still have energy for more! Although I am solely a daughter and don’t have firsthand experience, I know that motherhood is difficult. It’s not an instant gratification. But with time, mothers have the opportunity to see their little ones grow and develop into beautiful humans from the outside in, which is the greatest gift of all.

In the pursuit of helping your little one grow, it’s important though to take care of yourself. Whether you’re already a mother, mama to be, or aspiring mom in the near or far future, the best thing you can do to take care of those you love is to take care of yourself first! You can’t pour from an empty cup, so let’s focus on filling yours up! You can have, be, and do it all, trust me! When you strive to be the best version of yourself, the whole world becomes a better place because you’re in it! You are unique, your body is unique, your personality is unique, and your life circumstances are unique. So, let’s focus on embracing womanhood and taking time for self-love and love for our bodies.

One of the most beautiful ways to feel connected to your body to is to feel connected with your menstrual cycle. Do you struggle with an imbalance between you estrogen and progesterone? Not sure? Well, an imbalance between the two could possibly lead to less than favorable symptoms like PMS, acne, menstrual cramps, ovulation, headaches, irregular cycles, a short luteal phase, and heavy bleeding. Does this sound even a little familiar? If so, I have a solution for you, and it’s called seed cycling! Have you heard of it? It’s pretty simple: consume organic flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds at specific times during your menstrual cycle to promote hormone balance and support the phases of your cycle. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, you consume the seeds according to your cycle. However, if you have a rather irregular or even absent cycle, follow the cycle of the moon. Check out this diagram as an easy to follow guide!

During your follicular phase, or the first half of your cycle, consume 1 tablespoon of both ground flaxseeds and ground pumpkin seeds every day. You can mix them into you morning oats or smoothie, or toss them on top of a nourishing salad. How does this help you may ask? These seeds are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids which promote healthy cell membranes. Flaxseeds also contain lignans which will block excess estrogen in the first phase of your cycle. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which supports progesterone production and release for the second phase of your cycle.

Onto the next phase or second half of your menstrual cycle, the luteal phase. During this phase, consume 1 tablespoon of both ground sesame seeds and ground sunflower seeds per day. Why do these seeds make your hormones happy? Both are rich in omega-6 fatty acids which support progesterone levels and reducing inflammation in the body related to PMS. Sesame seeds, which also contain lignans, help to block excess estrogen. Sunflower seeds provide the body with selenium, a trace mineral that assists the liver in it’s detoxification process and thus overall hormonal balance.

Be patient with the process and your body. It may take a few cycles to notice any changes in your menstruation. Continue on and be persistent with seed cycling; it’s a nutritious and nourishing choice to encourage healthy hormone support and show your body some extra love! Plus, it’s a somewhat magical feeling to feel in tune with your own body and mother nature all at the same time.

Beyond just seed cycling, there are a variety of herbs found to be supportive for your menstrual cycle as well. Some of my favorites include cramp bark and black claw for pain relief and uterine cramps, chamomile for irritability and menstrual tension, motherwort for reducing uterine muscle spasms, mugwort to stimulate the menstrual flow and to balance the reproductive cycle, and red raspberry to help strengthen and tone the uterus. However, if you are currently pregnant, please discuss with your qualified healthcare practitioner prior to using any herbal remedies. But if not currently with child, definitely try out my recipe below for a chamomile lavender latte that is sure to relieve some stress and warm your soul.

Calming Chamomile Latte

Ingredients:

16 oz almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)

1 heaping Tbsp dried chamomile buds

2 heaping tsp dried lavender buds

1-2 tsp raw honey

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Zest of half a lemon

Coconut whipped cream for garnish, if desired

Instructions:

  1. Slowly heat almond milk in a small pan until very hot; be careful to not let it boil.
  2. Add the chamomile and lavender buds to the hot almond milk. Let steep for about 10 minutes before straining into a mug.
  3. Sweeten with raw honey, vanilla extract, and a touch of lemon zest for brightness. Garnish with coconut whipped cream.
  4. Enjoy with your daughter, another mama, or keep it all to yourself! Or better yet, grab your favorite book and draw an epsom salt bath with a few drops of eucalyptus oil and enjoy it there for the ultimate mama time!

Take this Mother’s Day to nourish and pamper yourself. Thank your mother for all that she has done for you over the years and will continue to do because she’s your mother and that’s what mothers do. A mother’s greatest power is self-love. A mother knows that when she is practicing self-love and self-care, her cup is full and she has plenty of time and energy to give to her family. A mother knows that when she is taking care of her own needs, she is far better at taking care of the needs of those she loves. And above all, a mother knows that when she is practicing self-love, she is showing her children how to do that too, which is the greatest gift you can give to any child. Always remember that motherhood is what is in your heart

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there!

Melanie Matta

Nutrition Student

National University of Natural Medicine