I know what you’re thinking: what the bloody hell is a menstrual coach? Don’t worry, we were just as intrigued, so we spoke to Claire Baker, a women’s coach and facilitator. She helps menstruators recognise the ebbs and flows in their cycle and shows us how to channel them to our advantage.
Hello Claire! Welcome to BGP. Please could you describe the type of work you do as a menstrual coach?
I believe that embracing the natural rhythm of the body is the best way to really be the authority in our own lives, and so my work is about helping those who menstruate work with their cycle, rather than against it. This involves working one-on-one with people who are ready to really use each phase of their cycle to their advantage in every area of life, and adopt self-care practices that support each phase. I also teach online courses and in-person workshops that create a space where we can explore together, what it means to have a menstrual cycle in the world today and how we can see it as a gift, rather than a burden.
In what ways can we make our menstrual cycle work for us? Are there ways we can structure our cycle around our work, social calendar and life in general?
Awareness is always the first step to making the menstrual cycle work for us. By charting your cycle (whether using an app, pen-to-paper or a charting calendar) and beginning to observe patterns and tendencies, we can begin to see where our strengths and vulnerabilities lie within each phase. For example, if we know when we’re most extroverted, we can do our best to plan social occasions for that time. By identifying the day that we feel a hormonal shift post-ovulation, we can be prepared by saying ’no’ to over-committing ourselves and taking a bath and an early night instead!
We shift physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and sexually in each phase of the cycle, so being armed with this self-information is a total game-changer. Once you get to know each day more intimately, a great tip I always share with clients is to write down the days of your upcoming cycle in your diary once you hit day one (the first day of bleeding), so when you’re making plans you can get a sense right away of where you’ll be at.
What do you consider to be the phases of our menstrual cycle?
There’s a few ways of breaking the cycle down. You can use the more scientific approach of the follicular (pre-ovulation) and luteal (post-ovulation) phases, but I really like using the seasons to understand each of the four phases, and when you think about the creative nature of the cycle, and the ebb and flow of nature, it works together really beautifully.
Winter = menstruation
Spring = pre-ovulation
Summer = ovulation
Autumn = pre-menstruum
What sort of ways are there to track the changes in your menstrual cycle? Do you keep a diary for example?
There’s plenty of tracking apps these days that are great - I really like Clue. I also teach a course called FLOW on journaling your menstrual cycle, which is useful for adding more detail and really exploring the energies of each phase. I have a free charting calendar on my website too which is a good method for those who like pen-to-paper and seeing the cycle in its entirety.
If people struggle with their menstrual cycle, are there ways they can learn to love it?
Conversation and telling stories is really healing and important. Chat with your mates, ask questions, seek support from holistic practitioners, and my book Adore Your Cycle. Menstruation is always the natural place I begin with a client, so slowing down and soothing the nervous system when we’re bleeding is a great place to start, and then indulging in kind self-care practices that feel good will help to set the tone for the rest of the cycle.
What sort of things do you do that help you channel your cycle into your lifestyle?
After five years of intimately living by my cycle, I can say that every area of my life flows with it, where possible. I structure the way I work creatively around my cycle, when I date, when I plan travel and social events, how I approach physical exercise and my diet… it’s been a process of curious experimentation to see what does and doesn’t work, and the more I live this way, and guide others to find their own flow, the more I believe that this is a sustainable and powerful way to live.
What are the sort of triggers we can look out for when trying to make our cycle work with our lifestyle?
Being too hard on ourselves! The truth is that we don’t live in a world (yet) that supports the cyclic nature of the menstrual cycle, and so it’s not about achieving a “perfect cycle” or overhauling every single area of your life, but rather adopting a more kind and gentle approach by recognising your own strengths and vulnerabilities.