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The 2 minute practice that will drastically improve your relationships

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Ladies, I promise you this is easy, quick and simple.

All you have to do is keep track of what day of your menstrual cycle you’re on (if you’re not currently menstruating or don’t have a womb, then you can use the lunar cycle), and write down how you feel, any particular insights you receive, what you struggled with and what went fantastically well.

You might just write down one word that sums things up (ideal if you’re short on time or have trouble committing to self-care practices, and yes, that’s most of us), or a sentence… or a page might feel more appropriate on some days. Just start with something.

Once you’ve been charting for a few months, you’ll start to notice patterns, and that’s when life gets excitingly predictable: You’ll know when you’ll want to socialise and be out there in the world, you’ll know when you’ll need some time alone, and when you’ll crave being outside/going out dancing, or simply want some uninterrupted time to potter.

imagesYou’ll also, and perhaps more importantly, know when it’s really not the right time to do your monthly shop with kids in tow (not that that is ever a wise move). You’ll know what days you should avoid cramming extra meetings into. You’ll know when it’s a bloody awful time to have house guests… Especially your in-laws. (more…)

What that wet patch in your knickers is all about

You’ve probably noticed that once in a while a wet patch appears in your knickers, in fact, there can be a hell of a lot of fluid down there, enough to make you question if you have something weird going on. But what you’re feeling and seeing is cervical fluid and it’s a sign of good health. Thank flip for that.

In fact, it’s massively important when it comes to your fertility.

Ferning CFProduced in the lead up to ovulation, it works in several wondrous ways by:

  • Letting you know you’re getting ready for the big O (ovulation). Cheaper, and in my opinion, more effective than ovulation sticks.
  • Making sex more comfortable due its lubricating nature (though it is different to the love juice you produce when you’re turned on).
  • Creating a route for sperm to get from your vagina and into your womb via your cervix.
  • Literally speeds sperm up on their epic journey to your egg.
  • Produces a ferning pattern to guide sperm on their merry way. Non-fertile fluid during the rest of your cycle stops them in their tracks (one of the ways the birth control pill works is by preventing you from producing fertile fluid).
  • Nourishing sperm to keep them alive and in tip-top shape.
  • Providing an alkaline environment which protects them from the acidic nature of your vagina (it’s acidic to help prevent infections).

(more…)

Are you playing Russian roulette with your hormones?

ec2343600f68bb6724378029acd9573aThere are times when I find it really easy to skip meals, particularly breakfast.

If I’m in the flow with my writing or having a lazy morning in bed at the weekend, it’s all too easy for me to ignore my belly’s need for food.

Hours will go by and I’ll suddenly realise that I’m ravenous, and before I know it, I’m shovelling a pile of hot cross buns smothered in butter and jam down my gob instead of the sweet potato fries and poached eggs I had lined up.

And that, ladies, royally screws me for most of the day, because skipping a meal and then loading up on refined carbs means that my blood sugar levels can be as up and down as a whore’s drawers.

(more…)

7 things to do now that you’re pregnant

IMG_7222You’ve peed on a stick, or possibly ten. Re-read the instructions thirteen times, checked with your partner or best friend, and yes, you are actually pregnant.

So what the hell happens now?

1. Don’t risk taking folic acid.

I’m betting that although every pregnancy app has told you how important folic acid is in preventing neural tube defects, not one of them has told that you may not be able to process it.

Yet at least 25% of the population have a genetic anomaly which prevents them from processing folic acid.

Pretty shocking, right?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate (vitamin B9) and at least a quarter of us can’t process it in this unconverted form. So unless you know that you don’t carry the genetic anomaly, you’ll want to take a prenatal which contains the converted form (which we can all process) labelled as folate, 5-mthf, or l-methylfolate. Brands which use the converted form include: Nutri-Advanced, New Chapter and Thorne Pharmaceuticals.

You can read more about the difference between folic acid and folate, and why you might not be able to process folic acid here.

2. Lie about your due date. (more…)

How to recover from a miscarriage

photoThis post is largely borne out of my own recent experience (which you can read about here), as well as the stories of the clients I’ve had in the years I’ve been working as a women’s health practitioner.

My understanding of miscarriage from both Western and Chinese perspectives has helped me to accept what has happened, and has provided me with ways to recover and heal. It is those that I want to share with you, because let’s be real; miscarriage fucking sucks.

Every woman’s experience of miscarriage is different, and I encourage you to listen to your instincts and needs throughout the process. Do what you need to do to heal, and take the time you need.

You’re exactly where you need to be.

We often believe that healing is a linear process, one in which we gradually get better, until one day, we’re fine. But it’s messier than that, it can be two steps forward, five steps back. You may feel like you’re doing well, and then a whole new set of emotions enters your being, and with that, the possibility of having to find new ways to understand and work through them. Loved ones and colleagues may also assume that you’re doing well, and be taken aback by sudden changes in mood and wellbeing. It isn’t fun but it *is* healthy, and as a friend of mine says, you’re exactly where you need to be. (more…)

A love letter to myself

photoDearest Maisie,

I know you’re feeling frustrated.

You love treating women one on one; you hear their stories, spend time crafting treatment plans, and are filled with joy when they share how the work they are doing with you is helping them. After all, this is the work you were born to do.

And yet, it’s not enough, is it?

You dream of something bigger, you can sense it deep inside you. You know it’s big, you know it’s powerful, and you know it’s important. It’s always there in your peripheral vision, but the moment you try to focus on the details, it disappears. So you’re frustrated, because you don’t know what this thing is, but you yearn to make it happen. 

I’m writing this letter to you, to remind you that you are exactly where you need to be right now. You are a strong, capable and determined woman, but you are being worked by something big, and big things take time.

You are full of passion and wisdom. You are on the right path … It will happen.

Slow down.

Move tenderly.

Surrender.

Big love (as always), Maisie.

____________________

Need some support or words of wisdom? Try writing a love letter to yourself and see what happens.

Need more than that? I’d love to hear from you xx

A legendary guitarist, my tattoos, and your fertility

I was already wearing next to nothing, but here he was, asking me to get naked for him.

My body felt like it was failing me; I couldn’t breathe let alone manage an answer. I looked at my friend Olivia, whose jaw had dropped in disbelief.

For once, it was a hot weekend in London, perfect festival weather. We had AAA passes (the perks of working in a renowned rock bar frequented by bands and those in the industry), and were sipping our warm beers, chatting to some band members that we knew.

Then Olivia clocked him.

She grabs my arm, spilling over-priced beer all over me.

“OH MY GOD” she quietly yells in my ear (in that way only girls can do).

Sure, I could have been annoyed at losing half my pint of lager, but I knew that if Olivia – who knows so many bands she probably can’t even list them – was saying this, then it was big.

“Don’t look now, but check out who just walked into that cabin”. So, being the queen of cool that I am (cough, cough), I casually turn around.

“HOLY SHIT” I reply. “We *have* to go and talk to him”

Olivia tries to tell me that the No. 1 rule when you see someone famous is not to pester them.

But I wasn’t having any of it. “But it’s hiiiiiim, we have to!”

“We can’t, my dad (a musician) always told me it’s the one thing you never do.”

“Olivia” I protest, as I grab her arm and start marching her towards the cabin, “is this likely to ever happen again?!”

“Oh my god, are we really doing this? Are you sure?”

But there was no deterring me.

Suddenly there wasn’t enough room in my chest for my heart to beat and my pulse was beating in my ears, not to mention the butterflies herd of miniature elephants in my tummy.

We approach the cabin and he walks out to find the two of us grinning at him like prize idiots, we manage to say hi and utter a few sentences of god only knows what. I honestly can’t remember what rubbish came out of our mouths, but all of a sudden he was telling me he really liked my tattoos and wanted to know if I’d get naked for him so that he could see them all.

It is a rare occasion when I am stunned into silence, but this was one of them.

Would you have stripped off for a legend?

I’m guessing that you fall into one of the following categories:

“No flipping way! What a pervert to even ask that!”

“Ummm, it depends, who is this guy? Is he hot?” (Answers coming up, I promise)

“Hell yeah! He’s a total legend!”

We all have our limits.

The same goes for your fertility. You may have strong feelings about how you conceive or you may be on the fence and need more information before you form an opinion.

Some of my clients feel certain that they don’t want to use any assistive reproduction techniques, such as IVF. Others are happy to use them but will only do certain procedures (such as IUI or “natural” IVF), or they place a limit on how many rounds of IVF / ICSI they will try. And others will keep going until someone or something stops them.

No judgement.

Regardless of where you are on your journey to conceive, you won’t find judgment here: I’m here to support you, and that means doing my bit to help make it a better experience, whether you’re getting ready to start trying to conceive, preparing / recovering from IVF, or looking for support during an IVF cycle.

It’s not my place to decide what the right or wrong way for you to have a family is. It is my place to help you to improve your chances and encourage optimum health through Acupuncture and Arvigo Mayan Massage. It is my place to offer you a safe haven, where you can take off your “everything-is-fine” mask and let go. It is my place to provide you with a space where you can really discuss your options.

Here I am.

And I’d love to hear from you if this has resonated with you.

If you’re full of hope and excitement.

If you’re fed up of keeping everything inside.

If you’re over everyone telling you not to worry.

If you simply need help.

Here I am. Just Holla.

Oh, and you wanted to know who he was, right?

Jimmy Fucking Page (of Led Zeppelin fame).

48 hours of hell

The call came at 1am and I mumbled my interested but sleepy responses to the man on the other end.

This was no booty call.

I’d only had two hours of sleep and wasn’t ready for this. After 2 years of working as a birth doula, you’d think I would have been, but the truth is, being jolted out of sleep is always hard.

Now, given the title of this post, 48 hours of hell, and the fact that this birth was an induced one, you might be expecting a horrific birth story. However, although it was one of my longest births, both my clients and I felt it was a positive one.

But I was in hell.

Shortly after I arrived at the hospital, my bleed arrived. This was five years ago, back in the days where period pain would floor me. Not realising my bleed was due, I had no tampons or painkillers. So there I was, supporting my client through her intense surges (my preferred term for contractions), whilst being on the verge of collapsing from my own pain. Thank goodness for my clients maternity pads and the midwife who sneaked me some paracetamol.

It happens all the friggin time.

Yes, I’m self-employed. Yes, I can largely decide my schedule, but not all the time. When a client is in labour, I go, and with almost eight years experience as a doula, I’m now fully aware of how common it is to get a bleed whilst at a birth, (somehow we sync up with our clients). Thankfully, I no longer require any painkillers but my bleed still affects me in other ways, and just like the rest of my cycle, I plan around it.

And the point of telling you all of this is:

You can too.

Every woman I’ve spoken to about cycle awareness has been touched by how powerfully simple tracking your cycle can be. Women get it. Men get it. Because it’s a no-brainer.

But maybe you, like them, struggle to see how you can make it a part of your life.

“I have a normal job”.

“I don’t have the power to schedule my work around my cycle”.

“I can’t take time off to rest”.

“I’m reeeeally busy”.

I’m calling bullshit.

You heard me. Bullshit.

None of the above are valid reasons for you not to track your cycle and use it to your advantage. In fact, if any of those statements are true for you, you have an even greater need to pay attention to your cycle.

I’m not asking you to change your life.

When I say, live in accordance your cycle, a lot of women hear change your life according to your cycle. Let’s look at the difference by working with the statement I hear the most frequently:

“I have a busy office job which doesn’t allow me to decide my own schedule”.

What women think I’m going to say, ie. changing your life to suit your cycle:

You need to rest when you’re bleeding, so don’t go into work on those days. Tell your boss that you can’t do that really important presentation on that day, you need to reschedule it for this day. Back to back client meetings on that day isn’t going to work for where you are in your cycle, you should cancel them or ask someone else to do them. You know what, maybe you should think of a career change … be self-employed like me, then you can do all of these things!

What I *am* saying, ie. living in accordance with your cycle:

Ok, so you’re going to be working at the most intense part of your bleed, what can you do to make it easier? You have a presentation coming up and it’s not at the ideal time in your cycle, what do we need to do during the rest of your cycle, so that you can safeguard your confidence and nail it? Back to back client meetings? That could be exhausting for you during that phase, what can you get in place in terms of self-care, so that it’s not so depleting?

Living in accordance with your cycle does not mean only doing things at certain times, it means matching tasks to phases, where possible. And the rest of the time? It’s about working with what you’re able to.

You *are* in charge.

You can’t set your schedule when you’re at work, but you can outside of work. So if you have a full on work day week, smack bang in the phase you struggle with, how about not making evening plans too? Instead, prioritise getting enough sleep and eating regular meals, that way there’s less potential for it to feel catastrophic.

Find half an hour.

That’s all I’m asking. 30 minutes to prioritise you.

  • Leave your office for half an hour during your lunch break (radical, I know).
  • Get lost in the neglected book that’s been moping on your nightstand for two months.
  • Turn your phone off and have a conversation with someone you adore. I bet that person just popped into your head.
  • Have a steamy bath date with that delicious Argentinian, Mr. Malbec.
  • Fly solo or partner up, but have an orgasm.

Too busy to go for treatments?

You want to have some acupuncture, but you don’t have time to travel to me. Or maybe you just want the luxury of being treated in your own home. Either way, right now I have an offer running which will appeal to you. Due to the fire which damaged Sadhaka, I’m currently treating clients in their homes for £85 instead of £125, but only until I find a new treatment space to use.

So if that’s appealing, holla.

Watch out, it only takes one sperm!

I can remember my teachers laughing as they read my homework.

I didn’t get what was so funny. There I was, at 15 years old, sensibly describing how, once sexually active (insert groan here), I would be taking the birth control pill and using condoms. Because that’s what good girls do, right?

They laughed and asked if I’d be keeping my tights on as well.

Having recently visited a family friend who was dying from AIDS, I was all too aware of what not using condoms could result in, and I believed that the pill was necessary, because it only takes one sperm to get you pregnant.

spermQuestionable choices.

I may have been drinking Jack Daniels during my lunch break, and making questionable choices in terms of clothing (and men), but in terms of sexual health, I was a very sensible young woman. I was on the pill, using condoms, volunteering in an HIV day centre and sat on a committee which looked at the sexual health of young people. I mean, I could’ve been the flippin’ poster girl for any “how-to-remain-disease-free-and-not-get-knocked-up” campaign.

My first pregnancy test.

But there I was, hiding in the bathroom, waiting to find out if I was pregnant. Praying that I wasn’t, and that nobody would ask me why I’d been in the toilet for so long.

I had believed the it only takes one sperm line so much, that despite using two birth control methods at once, I was still convinced that I might be pregnant.

300 million sperm.

That’s roughly how many swimmers are released each time your guy has an orgasm, and it is true that only one is needed, so it seems as if our chances of getting pregnant are really high. Because that’s a hell of a lot of sperm.

Turns out, it’s not always that easy.

I see a common theme amongst my fertility clients: They, like me, were told in their sex education, whether it came from their school, their older sister or 17, that it’s easy to conceive. But fast forward a couple of decades, and they find themselves in my treatment room, thoroughly pissed off that it’s a lot harder than they thought it would be.

You were a good girl and did your best to avoid parenthood till you were ready for it.

Now you’re ready, so ready that it’s all you can think of, and it’s not happening. 

I want to share with you some of the things I suggest to my fertility clients:

But before I do, if you’ve just started to try, and you or your partner don’t have any known reproductive issues, I largely just suggest you both take a good multi-vitamin (see link below) and have fun trying!

However, if you’ve been trying for six months or so, then this is what I suggest:

  • Manage your stress levels and get a good night’s sleep. How can you have regular sex, as required for conceiving, if you’re tired from not sleeping well and only interested in getting some shut-eye? Or, if you’re so stressed that you can’t shut off and actually enjoy sex, so it becomes something you do just to get his sperm inside you (ooooohh fun!). There are various therapies which can help with this, hypnotherapy being one of them. Chloe Brotheridge has some great free videos to help manage stress and anxiety which I highly recommend.
  • Start charting your cycle so that you can figure out when you’re fertile. This involves taking your temperature first thing in the morning and monitoring how your cervical fluid changes throughout the month. It’s particularly helpful if you have irregular cycles or, for various reasons, regular sex is hard to achieve so the timing is important.
  • In addition to tracking your physiological changes, also note how you feel emotionally. The richness of this information can help you to reframe how you view your body when you’re in the phases you’re not so keen on (because it can be hard to appreciate your period when you’re not trying to conceive, let alone when you are). You may also notice certain thoughts and emotions in the lead up to ovulation, which you can add to the when am I fertile? calculation.
  • If you’re not taking them already, get yourself a good multi-vitamin and fish oil. Your man too.
  • If you’re over 35 and have been trying to conceive for over six-months, speak to your GP and ask for blood tests to measure your hormone levels. Your partner needs to get his swimmers checked too.

And finally:

Maisie Hill AcupunctureWhether you’ve just started to try for a baby, or you’ve been trying for four years, here’s how I can help:

  • Arvigo therapy (Mayan abdominal massage) helps by improving blood blow to the reproductive and digestive organs. It focuses on the abdomen and lower back, encouraging optimal position and function, and as it’s largely a self-care practice, helps you to get to know your body and gives you a way to be proactive with your reproductive health.
  • Many women find that acupuncture helps to relieve menstrual-symptoms that can cause fertility issues. It also sits nicely along IVF cycles. You can read about how acupuncture can help here.

If you’d like support in the way of treatments, get in touch as I’d love to help.

Smart girls guide to oral

photo 2Some women aren’t into oral. 

It’s a bit tricky for me to put myself in their position because I love it. Some would say I’m a natural. When I do it, I feel powerful and enjoy knowing that what I’m doing is affecting someone in a profound way.

The women I’ve spoken to who aren’t into it, have told me that:

  • They feel awkward and stiff.
  • They get very little or no enjoyment out of it.
  • They fumble and things just don’t flow.
  • There’s other stuff they’re skilled at which they’d rather do.
  • They feel a degree of performance anxiety.
  • They don’t have a clue what they’re doing (or so they tell themselves).

I’m about to make life easier for you.

Whether you’re a woman who feels at home delivering oral *presentations*, or you’re totally freaked out at the thought of meeting a new client for the first time, let alone speaking in public, this nugget of info will help you to perform at your best.

photo 1Day 12 is where it’s at.

Hormonally, a woman’s oral performance is likely to peak on day twelve of her menstrual cycle. Now, obviously this depends on the length of each woman’s cycle, and where in her cycle she feels most at home. Some women will feel more at home during menstruation, but me, I’m an Ovulation Queen. I experience a natural expansive high around days 9 – 14: I’m social, and interested in connecting emotionally – intellectually – physically, so it’s easy for me to take advantage of the peak of Oestrogen on day 12, and use it to nail a workshop or client meeting.

Our hormones are trying to get us laid.

Why does this happen around day 12? Well, it’s often also the peak of a woman’s sexual desire, so given that ovulation occurs around day 14, it makes sense for us to be chatty and horny around day 12, as it takes sperm a few days to travel and find the egg. So very cleverly, mother nature has us out there feeling confident, horny and talkative, all so we have sex at the right time to stand a chance of conceiving.

Track your cycle.

I’m all about tracking menstrual cycles. If, every day, you jot down what day you’re on and a bit about how you’re feeling, you can start to track your own patterns. Women are actually far more predictable than the media would have us believe, and once you start harnessing the power of each phase of the menstrual cycle, you can get the most out life (more about this next week).

Plan your diary accordingly.

If you feel amazing around ovulation, try to schedule meetings where you need to perform in some way around this time; basically, anything that involves speaking. My guess is that if you feel good around this time (again, not all women do), then you’re more likely to do well. That might look like being more confident at a public speaking event, convincingly asking for a raise, or eloquently debating your point (whether you’re at work or home).

Work with me.

I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to explore the power of your own menstrual cycle. Maybe you find it a battle or go a bit nuts every month, or perhaps you want to raise your game at work and are realising this menstrual awareness stuff isn’t just a load of woo-woo.

I’m getting ready to launch a three-month coaching package at an introductory rate. I’m limiting it to six spots as I want to focus my energy on a small number of clients, so keep your beautiful eyes peeled for the details.