Before the birth of my son my periods lasted three days, medium flow, cramp free and like clockwork, arriving in the morning on the 28th day, every single month. Periods were never a bad “time of the month” for me and I felt myself a little lucky for not experiencing the pain and difficult issues so many of my friends would go through over the course of their childbearing years. However, after giving birth, my periods changed dramatically - despite birthing an intact placenta.
First, I got my period back a little over two months after birth even though I was breastfeeding. And now the bleeding was incredibly heavy from start to finish, with large clots and excruciating cramps lasting five days, sometimes more. There were a couple of embarrassing incidents in the supermarket aisle where blood literally flowed down my legs and seeped right through my pants. I couldn't understand why this was happening and it was very distressing. I checked in with some of my friends who also had similar stories to share, and who believed that having such bloody periods like this was normal after having kids. It didn't feel right but I just accepted it as the new norm, and each month when another cycle rolled around I hoped that it would be a little bit better. In hindsight I realize that the acceptance was a by-product of social conditioning, lack of education, indoctrination and the oppression of ancient wisdom.
Two years later, in 2016, my flow had tapered back about 50% and the clots were smaller but the regularity of my cycle started to change and became a few days shorter with brown spotting at the beginning and brown trailing at the end. I felt sad inside and somewhat broken. At the start of the same year my husband and I decided to begin trying for another baby and in May 2016 I became pregnant. At six weeks I miscarried. This was the push I needed to take a proper look at my cycle and give it the attention it was asking of me. I vaguely remember hearing about vaginal steaming somewhere and felt drawn to finding out more. I did an online search to find a steaming service in my area but there wasn't anyone other than a body worker who could order steam specific herbs. I dropped the idea and for the rest of the year we kept trying to conceive with no success.
In 2017, vaginal steaming came knocking at my door via a serendipitous encounter down the rabbit hole of Instagram. It was here that I got redirected to Steamy Chick and I instantly felt empowered by the information being presented and had a stirring inside that felt like a "waking up" of some sort. I was amazed to realize that since puberty everything I understood to be true about what is considered a normal period is just not true (or healthy!) and I learned what a healthy, balanced menstrual cycle should be and the "perfect period". I also didn't know that the uterus, although self-cleaning, doesn't always function at optimum level, and that the only time the uterus should "cramp" is when you are giving birth. I also learned that steaming post-partum is important and quite frankly essential for clearing everything out once your baby is born. It also brings warmth and circulation back to your womb, tightens your skin, heals any tears or scar tissue, and eradicates those irritatingly painful haemorrhoids that are also born along with your baby! I immediately signed up for a course to properly educate myself, purchased a sauna box and some "gentle" herbs, because my cycle was now 26-27 days, and got straight on the "little gynaecologist in a box."
If I am honest, my motivation was fueled by learning that steaming can help with fertility and that some women were getting pregnant very quickly because, although steaming is gentle and non-invasive, it is incredibly effective and heals, balances and brings desired results fast. At the ripe age of 43, I needed to give myself the best chance possible so I put together a three month plan where I would steam for two days after my period ended and for one day the day before my period was due. This plan was especially important to me because, after having a miscarriage, I wanted to make sure my womb was a healthy environment for the new life I was calling in. The brown spotting and trailing disappeared, along with the cramping, and on the 3rd month I hit a 28 day cycle. It was also the month that my intuition said "try again", and the little life we wanted so much was successfully implanted!
I am so grateful that I had that awful post-partum experience, otherwise I doubt I would have had the curiosity to discover and actually learn about vaginal steaming, which in turn helped me to heal my reproductive system and be sitting here now, less than a year later, with a baby growing inside of me.
The other big piece of this is coming to realize how disconnected I was to my womb, and my sacral center. Vaginal steaming reconnected me to this space and has brought an awareness of what lies there. It is the woman's seat of her power. Where her creativity, sensuality, pleasure and joy lives. Discovering and healing my seat of power is a process and one that is still on-going but it has slowly led to living a much juicier and fulfilling life!
This time around I look forward to the 30 day post-partum steam protocol, as an act of self-care and self-love, and in honour and as a continuum of a tradition that was once a very natural and normal practice of my female ancestors.
About the Author
Zofia Hausman is a British born human rights activist, food justice advocate and long time ally of Mother Earth, who is committed to building community, overthrowing paradigms, and the re-awakening of the Divine Feminine. She offers monthly women circles for nurturing and restoration, vaginal steaming sessions and medicinal aromatherapy consultations to her local community. Zofia is certified as a Vaginal Steaming Facilitator and Wisdom of The Earth practitioner. She is also co-founder of the non-profits GMO Free PA and Citizens for GMO Labeling and founding member of the Aquarian Women's Leadership Society. She moved to the U.S in 2010 and lives with her husband, son and rescue cat in the suburbs of Philly.