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As a menstruating teenager, we are taught to do the opposite of "free bleeding". We are encouraged to "plug it up" with a tampon and get on with life, study or work like usual - as if we're not internally bleeding for 5 plus days and shedding our vital life-force energy from our uterus! We completely avoid seeing, smelling or touching our period blood, so if the idea of free bleeding seems like a stretch for you, there's no wonder.
Thankfully, times are changing and so are our habits and rituals around our period - including releasing internalised shame around our bleed. One empowering ritual is known as "free bleeding" and is basically menstruating without using tampons, pads or period undies. Yep, you're just bleeding out and letting it flow sister.
However, you might have some logistical questions about free bleeding, which is totally understandable. We received this DM (below) into our instagram inbox so we thought it would be a good idea to paint the picture and share some tips to pair with your free bleeding adventure.
What's the history?
Free bleeding has been around since the beginning of time and was most prevalent because menstrual products didn't exist and most women didn't have a choice BUT to free bleed and allow their clothes to absorb the blood. Women in the 1700s and 1800s either free-bled or created make-shift rags or sponges to absorb the blood. Pads in this era were made of scrap fabric or rags, hence, the phrase “on the rag”. (I vividly remember calling my period "on my rags" in highschool!) The modern day tampon wasn't created until 1931 when Earl Haas created the first of its kind. Crazy huh?
In ancient times, period blood was considered magical and sacred and the blood was often captured for spiritual rituals or for watering crops with the highest nitrogen-rich fertiliser, AKA period blood. Women would gather in "red tents" and free bleed together under a New Moon, planting seeds of intentions, sharing wisdom, dancing, singing, and holding each other. It was a time of slowing down, regenerating our bodies and receiving support. You can read more about the Red Tent in Anita Diamant's book here.
Unfortunately a woman's period got a bad wrap over the past few thousand years with some religions banning women bleeding inside the church and banishing them to huts.
How do you free bleed?
Free bleeding is a practice of not using any menstrual products to block or prevent your period flow. It is as simple as laying down a towel or a waterproof Splash Blanket (shop here), sitting or lying on the blanket and allowing the blood to slowly leak out.
Some folks love to sit on the couch, pants-free and watch Netflix and chill whilst free bleeding. Others love to sleep naked and lay their plush moon-blood Splash Blanket underneath them to soak up the blood. You might also like to meditate, rest, read a book, paint, create some art or just lay outside in nature or in your backyard and literally bleed out.
Why would you want to freebleed?
There are many different reasons why one might want to free bleed. Here are a few reasons:
- To feel no restriction and enjoy the natural state of bleeding
- The health benefits of not "plugging up" and using tampons (also no chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome)
- Normalise blood and menstruation and staying in the womb cave for longer periods of time
- Environmental mission + to prevent unnecessary wastage of pads and tampons
- Bring awareness to period poverty and how so many women don't have access to the basics
- Rewire your mindset around bleeding and re-learning to see, witness and feel it rather than disguise, plug it or cover it up.
What about the mess?
Mess is an unavoidable part of free bleeding and it's best to get super comfortable with the smell, feeling and texture of dried blood on your body and blanket. Its' one of the most natural and primal parts of being a bleeding woman.
If you're free bleeding during the day or night, there will inevitably be blood that dries on your vulva, buttocks and thighs and perhaps some blood stains on sheets or bedding (don't worry, we have a new waterproof fitted sheet coming out soon). Gentle organic cleansing wipes would be handy to have close by if you are bleeding heavily and concerned with dripping blood from the bed to the bathroom.
How do I plan for free bleeding?
Like all ventures, it's best to have a plan in place to ensure it's a successful experience. Free bleeding is no different and takes some preparation. Here are some example of things you might want to plan out:
- Having all the food/beverages you need in the house on the days you freebleed so you don't have to drive or go outside.
- Choose what day or days you're going to free bleed (early on in your bleed when it's heavier, or later in your cycle when it's lighter?)
- Take a sick day at work (bleeding is a perfect time to do this) or take a day off to enjoy a full day of free bleeding to receive the impact of the experience
- Ensure there is no visitors from friends or family on the day that you want to free bleed
- Decided what waterproof Splash Blankets you need (one on the bed, one on the couch and one to snuggle with)
- If you need to get up and answer the door, choose what you're going to wear (a loose, dark coloured dress or robe?)
- Plan out what you might do on your free bleeding day. For example, read, watch a series, write, paint. You might even want to paint with your period blood - check it out here. Artist, Jasmine Carter paints with her period blood and teaches women how to reconnect back with their cycle and creativity.
It's not for me. What can I do instead of free bleeding?
If you can't get your head around free bleeding, that's ok hun! It's not for everyone and it might not be logistically possible, especially if you live with your family or a bunch of housemates. However you have other options to dip your toe into the world of free bleeding...
The colour, texture, scent and consistency of your period blood can tell you a lot about your reproductive, hormonal and overall health and for this reason we believe it’s essential to SEE your own blood as it sheds from your body. With this concept in mind, we designed Australia’s first organic reusable pads with white/cream coloured material so you can visibly see the colour of your blood when you’re spotting, menstruating, leaking, having a termination, miscarrying or post-birth. Try our "See My Blood" reusable pads that you can actually see your the colour, texture and amount of blood on: SHOP HERE.
You might also like a invest in some period undies. Use the code ROSIEREES at checkout at ModiBodi.
You can also try a menstrual cup or menstrual disc. By seeing your blood and it's consistency and colour, you're able to assess your overall health and also water your plants with your period blood (don't forget to water it down!).
Talk to me about period sex!
So many bleeders get horny and aroused during their menstruation, so normalising period sex is SO important! The period sex conversation was ignited in the 2022 MAFS episode with Domenica and Jack (read about it here) Mamamia did a case study of 1000 women and found that 22 per cent of women said that period sex is a total no-go for them, while 40 per cent said it depends on what time of their cycle they are in, and 38 per cent said they didn't mind at all.
Besides, period sex can be incredibly healing and therapeutic. The increase in blood flow to the pelvis, the pelvic floor muscles moving and the stimulation on the cervix & uterine walls, plus a burst of hormones helps to naturally relieve period pain. If you experience cramps or chronic pre-menstrual symptoms leading up to your period, forget taking pain killers and instead try having slow, sensual sex with your partner or with yourself.
Happy free bleeding queens!
Love Rosie x
Follow me here for daily content: @rosie.rees
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