Naomi is an Executive Assistant, drummer, and dog enthusiast, originally from York, but who has been living in Manchester for the past 5 years. She wants to make the conversation around periods as normal as what you had for lunch, and ultimately help banish the stigma that has been holding us all back.
 

1. What’s your role with Every Month? What will you be doing?

I’m both a blogger and packer for Every Month, so I’m involved in writing articles, and helping to make the packs that are sent out to food banks, shelters and charities around Manchester.

2. How did you find out about the campaign?

I found out about it from a friend who’s involved in charity work who sent a screenshot of an Instagram post calling for volunteers. I used to do some journalism work and have been dying to get back into volunteering, so thought it was about time I gave it a go and put my money where my mouth is!

3. What interested you about getting involved?

Every Month is at a really exciting stage where it’s small enough to see how your work contributes to the campaign, but big enough to have a real impact on the local community and conversation generally around period poverty. Every Month takes the topic seriously but doesn’t take itself too seriously and I really like that.

4. Where do you hope the campaign will be in a year’s time? 

I hope the campaign grows and that people become more familiar with the name, and that bigger and bigger names get involved. I think that we can help drive the conversation not only around periods, but all of our experiences. It’s all about opening up and empathy, and people not feeling like they have to hide, and that goes for everything – mental health, gender, and sexuality for instance.

5. Who are you inspired by?

I’m pretty old school, so I’d say I’m mainly inspired by people like civil and human rights activists both past and present. People who speak up for change even when it’s not easy to do so – the Malala Yousafzais of the world. I’m also inspired by a lot of the people around me, friends and family; it’s amazing to see the people you love and care about achieve things you’re really proud of (even if you only tell them that after a wine or five).

6. What books/documentaries/films etc do you recommend to everyone?

If you’re like me and like a bit of power to the people, I’d recommend films like Pride and Made in Dagenham. I love them because they’re a reminder to me that ‘ordinary’ people are often the ones who have changed the world. My favourite book of all time is called The Submission by Amy Waldman, and is pretty dark but is a fictional novel surrounding the events of 9/11. I love it because I think I can be a pretty opinionated person, but the way it presents the story really challenges and makes you question your own beliefs. I read it 3 years ago and still can’t decide what my conclusion is, which I love. Definitely give it a go.

7. What change would you like to see in the way menstruation is currently discussed?

I want to see people become more comfortable talking about it like they would anything else. One time at work I dropped a pad on the floor and the guy next to me said ‘what’s that?’. He genuinely didn’t know what it was. Isn’t it mad that 50% of all the people he’s probably met have had periods almost every month and he didn’t know what a pad was? I’ve never owned or worn a pair of mens’ boxers, but people would think I was mad if I didn’t know what they were. I think the more comfortable we all get talking about it, the more educated and empathetic to each other we’ll all become.

8 What would you tell your younger self about periods?

Talk about them! Every conversation about them starts with one person speaking first.

9. What helps you most when you’re on your period?

Cutting myself some slack. Sometimes your period is going to hit when you’re planning to go the gym or a big event, and you want to just curl up in a ball at home under a blanket instead. I think it’s important to give yourself a break and not force yourself to do things, and to not feel guilty about it. Also, tracking when they are – getting the urge to scream at the sound of someone eating crisps loudly on the train isn’t a coincidence.


The Christmas period. We’re not talking that whole month of jolly festivities that begin December 1st (or the whole two months, for those extreme festive enthusiasts out there who whack out the tree as soon as Halloween is over). We’re talking about when Aunt Flo shows up uninvited to the Christmas festivities expecting the royal treatment. 

For me, Aunt Flo arrives like clock-work around the 25th of every month and she could not care less whether it’s my birthday, my boyfriends birthday or Jesus’ bloody birthday. She never brings a birthday gift and she never lets me know when she’s running late or arriving early how rude! Christmas is such a wonderful time of year, but you can’t be your best self when you’re hunched over mid-cramp weeping into your Christmas dinner. So here are 12 pieces of advice to help you survive the big day bleeding and give Aunt Flow the merry middle finger… 


1. Be prepared 
We’ve heard it all before ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. GCSE exams had that permanently etched in my brain, but it has some truth to it. This year not only do I need to prepare 70 roasts potatoes, but I need to prepare for my period. Supermarkets are not open Christmas Day and most local shops charge twice the amount menstrual products, so it’s just as important to ensure you have a stock. 

2. Learn to say ‘No’
This is an important one I seriously struggle with myself. Christmas is such a social season and when you’re inundated with invites to parties and catch-ups with old friends, it can be a little overwhelming and hard to say NO. But dare I say it, you do not have to accept every invite. If you’ve got a bloated tummy, being crippled by period paid and you just want to binge-watch true crime documentaries in bed (guilty!) then that’s OK. You do you. Plus, it’s always better to not fully commit to an invite than say yes and flake anyway (also guilty). Learning to say no is hard but give it a go! 

3. Get a good night’s sleep 
This goes without saying and I know you must be so excited for Father Christmas sneaking down your chimney but go to bed! If you’ve got children, this one is even more important. The stress of the big day, plus a lack of sleep and period pains is not a good recipe for being merry and bright. Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep before the big day is imperative! This nicely leads onto the next one… 

4. Ask for help 
If you’re stubborn, this can be a hard one too. Christmas can be stressful, especially if you’re the host and you’ve got worry about feeding the five thousand whilst juggling raging symptoms of PMS and a cramping stomach. If you’re struggling ask for help, get people peeling veg and the kids setting up the table. 

5. Take a moment for yourself
Here’s some professional advice, friend and psycho-therapist Amy Gorton advises that you should…
                           “Give yourself permission to have some space. Families are hard work at the best of times, especially at Christmas. It’s even harder when your hormones are everywhere. You don’t need to spend every hour of the day with your family. Take some time out, give yourself a breather and don’t feel guilty about it! Remember you’re a grown up now and our families always make us feel like we are 10. So, it’s important to do something that reminds us we’re adults and we have our own autonomy now”. 

Solid advice. 

6. All the hot stuff 

Take a hot bath, cuddle up with a hot water bottle whilst watching The Royle Family Christmas Special, drink a hot chocolate (or warm mulled wine) … and relax. 

7. Chocolate 
Christmas is one of two occasions in the year where its acceptable to have chocolate for breakfast, so take full advantage of this. However, if you want the maximum benefit for easing cramps and PMS then stick to high-quality dark chocolate, specifically chocolate with over 65% of cocoa solids. Good quality chocolate dark chocolate has a lower sugar content and contains endorphins which can help lift your mood. Be mindful that a sugar overload can make youeven more emotional but hey ho ho ho it’s Christmas. Give yourself permission to indulge and own it, guilt free! 

8. Magnesium 
This is a life-saver for period cramps! Magnesium is a mineral found in most food sources and without getting too science-y it aids in neuro-transmission and regulates muscle contractions… cramps!! Scientific evidence suggests that magnesium levels drop during the second half of your menstrual cycle suggesting a possible link between low magnesium levels and symptoms of PMS. Chocolate is also high in magnesium, hence chocolate cravings. However, magnesium is best absorbed topically (through your skin). Magnesium spray is a stomach cramp stopper in a bottle when sprayed directly onto your abdomen. I swear by it! It does itch a little the first time you use it, so be mindful. Alternatively,you can throw some magnesium salts into your bath.

9. Go for a walk 
Exercise is another thing you can do to really alleviate stomach cramps and get the happy hormones flowing! Having said that, you don’t want to be smashing out a HIIT session Christmas Day, or maybe you do but going for a Christmas Day walk with the family sounds much more appealing. Not only will it make you feel good, but you’ll be spending quality time with the fam away from the cramped (no pun intended) confines of your house. If you have a dog, even better!!

10. Give a menstrual-cup a try! 
If you’re conscious of the amount of waste produced during the Christmas period (30% more waste than usual – including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees) then why not give a re-usable menstrual-cup a go. It’s totally hygienic, helps reduce plastic waste and is a one-off payment, winner!

 

The Christmas Gift 
Christmas can be full of presents but it’s also important to remember to be present. It’s been an important lesson for me to recognise what a gift my period truly is. Getting my period every month means my body is healthy and functioning the way it is supposed to. I practice gratitude instead of grump towards my period and it really does help. A shift in perspective can do you the world of good. 


12. Gift some period joy to another in need
Having said that for some people, periods are not always a gift and can be nothing more than a hefty financial strain. In true festive spirit, why not give the gift of basic menstrual needs. We say just £1.50 can provide one person with one month’s worth of menstrual products. See the link below to make a donation to EVERY MONTH via our fundraising page. Together we can tackle period poverty! 

https://www.gofundme.com/234j5ag4 

Merry Christmas ppl, have a bloody good day whether you’re bleeding or not! xxx

by Hannah De Clegg, EM Blogger

In case you missed our exciting news, we’ve OVER THE MOON to announce we’re joining forces with the badasses at OHNE!

OHNE are calling time on toxic tampons, offering 100% organic tampons (with biodegradable applicators, if applicator tampons are your thing) and free delivery! They are also super-committed to ending period poverty, both through their support of the Girls Programme in Zambia and, now, through their support of Every Month!

Everyone who donates to Every Month on our GoFundMe page will get a special code to use at OHNE to receive a pack of OHNE tampons FOR FREE!

So, what are you waiting for? Your donation will help us to get more period packs to people in Greater Manchester experiencing poverty, AND  you’ll be rewarded with lovely organic tampons! Everyone’s a winner!

To learn more about OHNE, their tampons and their work in Zambia, why not pop over to https://ohne.co/ (after you’ve read this and donated, of course!)

By Emma Barratt, Every Month Blogger