The Other Way

062: An herbalist on: Hormonal Balance, Fertility, & Thriving in Motherhood

March 19, 2024 Kasia Stiggelbout Season 2 Episode 62
The Other Way
062: An herbalist on: Hormonal Balance, Fertility, & Thriving in Motherhood
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Today's topic is ALL ABOUT HORMONES. Ashley Rocha, the founder of Ladywell, joins us to chat about women's hormonal health, herbalism, and what it's like building a business while raising two (!!) babies under 3 years old. We are going to explore the link between a symptom-free menstrual cycle and fertility, and how herbal supplements like ashwagandha can work miracles for both women's and men's reproductive health. 

Other topics:

  • Lifestyle tips for balancing your hormones pre-conception and postpartum
  • Herbs for both female and male hormonal health
  • What it's like balancing babies and a business as a founder in the early stages
  • Balancing your sense of identity as a new mom
  • Transitioning from a stable corporate career into being a founder


+ so much more

About Ashley

Ashley is the founder of Ladywell. A hormonal health supplement brand for women that gives women the tools to care for their hormones and wellbeing. Ladywell was created to make plant-based hormonal health solutions easily accessible to women and close the knowledge gap around hormonal health. With a culture hyper focused on quick symptom relief, Ladywell aims to treat the root cause and reestablish what it feels like to have a “normal cycle”.

Ashley is an award winning designer specializing in shaping brands for clean food, beauty and wellness. She studied herbalism at California School of Herbal Studies where she formed her understanding and deep love of plant medicine.


 To connect with Ashley:
 

IG:  get_ladywell
TikTok:  get_ladywell
FB:  getladywell

References:

Protein and Hormone Connection

Research has shown that eating protein decreases the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates the production of hormones that help you feel full, including peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278948/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32648023/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24923232/

Pesticide and Endocrine Disruptors

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35206146/#:~:text=Due%20to%20their%20effects%20on,are%20classified%20as%20endocrine%20disruptors. 

Amino Acids and Hormone Connection

A review that included 11 high quality studies found that taking 0.14–3 grams (g) of tryptophan per day could help decrease anxiety and increase positive mood in generally healthy people 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32272859/

Ashwagandha and Hormone Connection

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6979308/

Support the show

To connect with Kasia

Kasia:

Hello and welcome to the Other Way, a lifestyle podcast exploring uncommon, unconventional or otherwise alternative approaches to life, business and health. I'm your host, kasia. I'm the founder of Inflow, a woman's wellness brand that designs intentional products to help women reconnect to their unique cyclical rhythm and find a balance between being and doing. This podcast is an extension of my mission within Flow. Here we provide intentional interviews with inspiring humans, trailblazers, researchers, spiritual teachers and more on the journey of doing things the Other Way. Hi everyone, Welcome back to the podcast. I have such a special guest for you all.

Kasia:

Today I am speaking with Ashley Rocha, who is the founder of Ladywell. Ladywell is a hormonal health supplement brand for women, and it gives women the tools to care for their hormones and their well-being. It was created to make plant-based hormonal health solutions easily accessible to women and to really close the knowledge gap around hormonal health. And, with a culture that is so focused on quick symptom relief, I love that Ladywell aims to treat the root cause and re-establish what it feels like to have a normal cycle and to find balance. Ashley is such a powerhouse y'all. She is a dear friend of mine, so I feel super excited and grateful to be sharing her with you all, and this episode really feels like a conversation that we normally have while hiking or getting breakfast together. We dive deep into hormonal health today. So what are some of the symptoms to look out for that might signal that something might be going on with your hormones as a woman? We talk about why having a regular cycle and ideally a smooth, as symptom-free as possible cycle, how important that is for your fertility. We dive into what could be happening in your body when you are experiencing PMS, fatigue, etc. And I love how detailed Ashley is on today's episode around sharing some of the research that's out there, because having the knowledge that is truly power. We dive into Ashley's top hormonal and fertility hacks, lifestyle hacks, postpartum care and what it's like balancing being a founder as well as a mama of two kids under two.

Kasia:

In a former life, ashley was an award-winning designer who specialized in shaping brands for clean food, beauty and wellness. She studied herbalism at the California School of Herbal Studies and that really formed her understanding and deep love of plant medicine. This episode is chock full of information and I'm so excited to welcome Ashley to the podcast. So let's jump into it. Ashley. Welcome to the podcast. Hi, thank you so much for having me. You're just talking right before you hit record. This is just like one of our normal hikes, except recorded and, I guess, slightly more dressed up, but same deal. So I'm so excited to have the audience here, to be a little fly on the wall it's great.

Ashley Rocha:

Yes, I washed my hair for you, so we're good to go.

Kasia:

I did. Actually, I did dry shampoo, so I can't even say I got that far. That's okay. This is in the room with me, since we're recording this remotely, so we'll be good. Oh my gosh, we have a lot to cover around hormonal health, lady, well, and what it's like balancing being both a mama and a founder, and your story, and so much more. But before we dive into that, I want to kick it off with what are three words that you would use to describe yourself?

Ashley Rocha:

It's a good question. I would say ideator as the first one. Like I'm always just. My whole life I've been full of tons of ideas and that's probably partly why I'm an entrepreneur like just bringing these crazy ideas I have to life. My background is also in design, so like visual design, which naturally is all about ideation and creation. So I'm really like a creator at the end of the day, and that's the essence of who I am.

Ashley Rocha:

And then the second one I would say free spirit. So not in like an anthropology kind of way, like a boho way, but like more, like the way that, like I crave independence, I kind of walk the beat of my own drum. I'm just, I feel like free spirit is definitely encompassing who I am. And then the third one I would say mother, like I without, like I'm just such a mother right now Like I have a four month old baby and a toddler that's three years old. So it's really hard to separate being a mother from being a person like once you're, especially in these early years. So like the first word that came to mind was mother.

Kasia:

I love that and you know, when you mentioned the whole free spirit thing, I was just like, oh my god. I think back to the first time that we met. It was like at a woman's event and I keep telling everybody this, so you've heard this story so many times, but I feel like the audience needs to hear this. You were like a couple months post, part of you literally had your infant strapped to you. This was like a female founders meet up with like almost a hundred women there and you're just like in it. You know what I mean. I just like reflect on like my hermit days on a Friday, no baby in tow, and there you are, like on your Thursday night, like with baby at this event in the early stages of motherhood. I mean the whole, like walking to the beat of your own drum and mother, but like killing. It is just so accurate for you truly.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah you. Just I can't like separate that from my normal life and like it's intertwined in everything I do. So yeah, definitely.

Kasia:

And I love that though, because you know you think about a lot of women after they become mothers. There, obviously, you're like your life revolves around your kids in many, many ways, but you also allow your kids it sounds like kind of based on what you're modeling to come with you and like journey on through your life, as opposed to like not going out and totally hermitting because, god forbid, like somebody come too close to you, know the baby, or you know, wake them, like you. You know, at one point when we were talking, your son started crying a little bit, and it was just like part of the experience, like it wasn't this, like oh my gosh, big deal like, and I think that that's really beautiful. You actually, at least, I don't see that a lot in like the era of helicopter parenting and like total coddling, and I just think it's so, so, so impressive.

Ashley Rocha:

I mean, you can easily have your kids dictate your life for you, but I don't want to not be able to go to women's events, not be able to be a founder of a company, lead a company because I have kids. So yeah, I try to, you know, fit as much in as possible and sometimes that means I bring my baby to a networking event and like throw a boob in his mouth while his speakers talk to me. You know it definitely was harder to bring like kids to like work events as they get older, but it works for me that moment in time.

Kasia:

Yeah, I love it. I love it. So you know it's funny because you are a mother, that is one of your keywords and you also are the founder of Ladywell, which is a supplement for women that helps regulate their hormones, amongst many other incredible benefits, but that's kind of like the main takeaway. I'm obviously a fan and a customer, so I love it and I love how synergistically your kind of you know, identity as a mother, as a woman, kind of flow together with this beautiful product that you're creating. And I'd love to share with the audience a bit of your backstory, what inspired Ladywell, because obviously you were working as a designer at one point but you pivoted out of that to pursue building this company and like really bringing this product to life. Like that became kind of your professional focus. So what was that journey and where did it come from?

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, so I always since I went through puberty I had the worst PMS, just really painful periods. I think I had PMDD, like extreme mood swings that affected my daily life Like I'd have, like you know, a week a month that I was not myself, I had like just debilitating cramps. It affected my relationships, it affects work, and so I had that all the way up until like my 30s and I never really could address it Like doctors really couldn't help me. It was just it would prescribe hormonal birth control and I would take birth control and it gave me melasma and I didn't want that. So there's never really a great solution for me.

Ashley Rocha:

And I also have always been really interested in the plant world and herbalism. So I started studying herbs at a local herbal school and just like understanding that and that journey of discovering what plant medicine could help me with my symptoms of PMS or PMDD really led me to create Ladywell. And also along those same times I was trying to get pregnant with my first kid and I was having problems getting pregnant. So I think when women start going through that journey of trying to get pregnant and maybe it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be you really do start to look at your health and your hormones and so, like, all that accumulated into this, like bent of me finding plants and herbs that really worked for PMS and fertility and that was the birth of Ladywell.

Ashley Rocha:

Like when we're talking about, I was a designer before. Like I worked on clean beauty brands, I worked on clean food brands and the wellness space and I always really wanted to create my own product. So, like, when I had created Ladywell, I just felt like the natural synergy of the things that I've learned through, like the wellness world and design space and marketing, and then my passion of women's health and hormones and plant medicine and all just like really fell into place and it just felt so natural and so right and it was the right timing, even though the time was that, like I was pregnant when I launched Ladywell. Like that's not a great time to launch any company, I would say historically for any woman, but, like for me, that was just the timing that took place in the universe and it came to be and I'm so happy about that.

Kasia:

Oh, I love that. Okay, so personal question, which I'm hopeful you'll answer for us what came first, ladywell, or pregnancy, or just like coincidence? I guess it coincided at the same time, because you started taking these herbs to help with your own PMS symptoms, it sounds like. But when did you decide to launch the product? Like kind of just curious if that was exactly at the same time or if there was a bit of a sequence there.

Ashley Rocha:

I mean I can say exactly the same time but I was taking the herbal ingredients for Ladywell prior to getting pregnant and then when I got pregnant is really when I started working with the functional medicine doctors and herbalists that I did to create this exact formula. So I would say that, like when I was pregnant is when I really like hone down on the formula for Ladywell.

Kasia:

Love that, love that I feel like a lot of people think about like the perfect time to have a child, and everyone always tells you like there is no perfect time and you're like, oh, I launched a company, like while pregnant, like not the perfect time either. They're just, I mean, I just I love debunking that myth, and even more so, though, I totally love how the creativity and like the birthing for lack of a better word word of this company coincided with, like your own pregnancy and the birth of your child. I think there's just something so beautiful about that right.

Ashley Rocha:

Definitely, and I think also becoming a mother and like having kids, you really you really think about your life and want to build a life that you wanted to be like I didn't want to be working for somebody else anyways especially wanted the freedom that having your own company gives you, even though, like yes, you do have like a limited amount of freedom when it comes to building your family, because there's so much time commitment involved. But you know, I don't want to be going to an office, I want to work from home, I want to be able to see my baby during the day. So there was other things that like really help with that. But yeah, it's. I mean, the job came together at the right time.

Kasia:

I absolutely adore that. I think as a society we don't really celebrate the power of transitions and what like these massive transitions can mean for our lives and how they really can shift things, and shift things perhaps into alignment. I think that there's just like a lot of fear around change, and so I absolutely love that. What for many women, and probably for you as well, was like also a very scary time of transition because there's a ton of unknown there, it's also this incredible catalyst. It sounds like it was this incredible catalyst for like realigning your life with your values and with the life that you wanted to build for your kids. So I think that's just such a powerful, powerful reminder that you can't like it doesn't have to look a certain way when you're building a business, especially in terms of timing.

Kasia:

So you talked a bit about starting to collaborate with some functional medicine doctors, herbalists and experts as you were starting to build out the formula. So I'd love to dive into the herbs themselves, because I know that a lot of listeners of this podcast are kind of in that preconception hormonal regulation phase and so we can kind of decide like what makes the most sense around, like how to bucket it. But can we talk a bit about. We can bucket it into the following phases of hormone regulation as a whole and then fertility, and can we walk through some of the herbs that are in the supplement and like the benefits they have for each and perhaps if one herb actually benefits, you know, hormonal regulation and fertility, or if there's overlap there, like? I'd just love to know how you think about it when you think about the formula.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, well, the thing about a lot of these herbs is they help with women's health on a broad, broad scale. So it's hard to just say like this one specifically for hormone balance, this one specifically for fertility, because a lot of them really do all that stuff within one herb, right? So ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Irveda. It has been used with thousands of years to relieve stress, reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety. It's one of the more studied herbs. Like in a study, people who took ashwagandha for eight weeks has significantly reduced perceived stress and levels of stress hormone cortisol compared to those who took the placebo.

Ashley Rocha:

And I'm sure most people know like stress is like one of the worst things for you. Like it's horrible for PMS and it's horrible for both trying to get pregnant. So ashwagandha really like helps combat stress for people in both of those camps. But if you're looking at just our menstrual cycle, it really helps with inflammation. So if you have endo, like inflammation there and then hormone fluctuations, so it regulates our cycle by balancing the reproductive hormones and then when it comes to fertility, it's really helpful because you have that hormone balance. But it also reduces oxidative stress, which can enhance the quality of egg production and increase the chances of conception.

Ashley Rocha:

And then you know, with fertility, we always like really focus on women, like we're talking about fertility and not so much the men, but both men and women come into play. When we're trying to make a baby like yours, the sperm matter is just as much as the eggs matter. So we remiss not to comment that ashwagandha also helps with male fertility as well a boost testosterone and significantly increases sperm concentration. So it's really good for men and women in that regard. But, like ashwagandha is great just for stress relieving properties that help with anxiety of conception. And I also want to say, like ashwagandha in many herbal Ingredients, that their effects are not going to be immediate, like you can't just take. It's not like an ibuprofen you take it in your head, it goes away. You need to take it for several months for the full effects to kick in, and so it's something that you really need To build on every day and build that foundation with your adaptogens and your herbs love that, love that.

Kasia:

So Ashwagandha is definitely one of the herbs that's like listed at the front of the lady well supplement. What are some of the other standout herbs and, if you can kind of go through some of their benefits as well?

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah. So chestberries also a really popular and important herb for women's health. It's often called by text or chest trees, so if, like you're looking for chestberry, you can see it label different ways in different places. It's really important for the treatment of hormonal imbalances and, and once again, fertility. Those two things, you know, often go hand in hand. So it's useful for fibroids, pms, cycle regulation If you have missed periods, it can help with that Peremental pause as well. But the way it works is through the action on the pituitary gland increases progesterone production. So if you have lower than normal progesterone or a little phase insufficiency, chestberry is your girl. That's what you want to take. I mean, there's been a really good amount of research on chestberry with really impressive results. So for clinical evidence on fertility, women with unpredictable cycles or a luteal phase to affect pregnancy occurred in that active group who took the chestberry. I think it was twice as often as the placebo group. So that just shows you that, wow, it just shows you that that is really effective in solving fertility. It's not solving but helping with fertility issues. And it also reduces prolactin, which is a hormone that's increased during stress. And so once again, come back to the conversation on stress, like if you're trying to get pregnant. Stress is such a terrible thing to have on your life and you Already are just stressed out just trying to get pregnant, so that just kind of helps resolve that as well. So chestberry is one I recommend and then saffron I think it's one that's less commonly known for women's health, but I like to call it the positive mood plant.

Ashley Rocha:

It's also really well researched. It does wonders in alleviating PMS, so particularly mood swings and irritability. So this is the things that I had like. I had just like really bad mood swings. I like got, just like you know, pissed off like all the time, like so easy during my period. So I took saffron and it was just so wonderful for me.

Ashley Rocha:

It the compounds in it boost production of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood, and it also helps support healthy cortisol, healthy estrogen, which is what helps promote that relaxation and combat stress and combat mood swings and irritability. So if you're somebody that fouls with the PMS or PMDD, which is PMS like on steroids, it's like when you have like the depression and the just like the moods, like heavy mood swings of PMS, saffron is a great ingredient to add to your life. And then, when we're talking about pregnancy as well, like, once again, it does help with pregnancy. It's been known to the boost libido in men and women. So if you're trying to get pregnant, that's really a smart thing to take, because you know sometimes you lose your libido when you're trying to get pregnant for various reasons. And it also helps prepare the uterus for fertilization process. So it can help the muscles and the uterus and increase the chances of pregnancy there.

Kasia:

So it's one to add for both PMS and then fertility love that and I also love you calling out Kind of how these herbs in some cases can help both men and women, and I think that you know, maybe that's like you need, like a Manuel, not lady gentlemen.

Kasia:

Well, On my radar of things to create so cool so important and we can definitely dive into a bit more of that. So kind of going down the list of some of the other herbs and or Complexes that are in Lady. Well, what about Don Quay or be complex? Could you give us like a little bit of a blurb as to why those were included? What are some of the benefits like? What do we need to look out for?

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, so don't why it was included for the cramps and the period pain. So it helps with that. And then be complex is helps with a detoxification which plays an essential role in hormonal health. This is because hormones are constantly recycled in our body. They're broken down by our liver and then either reused or, like put eliminated through your PRP. So these biochemical detoxification pathways require B vitamins to successfully complete this and if if they're not working Correctly, then your hormones can be out of balance, like your hormones will be recirculated in your body. So, with our body, it's really important that we remove the hormones that we don't need at the end of our cycles and, you know, keep the ones we do mean nice, nice.

Kasia:

And then I noticed also essential amino acids, chevarty and fooling all I mean. I feel like fooling. It's definitely an herb I probably heard about when I was studying Chinese medicine, do not remember, but sounds on sounds on. Yeah, okay, oh, alright, wait. What kind of mushroom are we talking about here?

Ashley Rocha:

Well, it's a mushroom that resembles a coconut. It's like a crusty brown exterior and a whitish interior grows underground. It's not like a magical mushroom, but I mean it's magic in the way that it helps you with reduced stress eating. So if you're like really like drawn to eating like sugary foods when you're stressed out, fooling will help you with that.

Kasia:

Nice, nice. And then Chevarty and the essential amino acids. What kind of happens with those?

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, essential amino acids are often referred to as the building blocks of protein, so they're vital for building proteins, hormones and neurotransmitters. So your body can't make all the sense or the amino acids that it needs, you can eat to eat them through your diet, like through a lot of the meats, and you know just a very balanced diet, so you need to. If you're not getting those through a diet, then it's smart to take a supplementation for that. And I would say, like, out of all the things I'm talking about, amino acids are something that if you take it, you can immediately start to feel like the improved energy, or you'll start to feel better, like pretty quickly, while, as I said, like ashwagandha, yes, you'll start to feel better, but it takes time to build upon that. Amino acids are kind of like a quick, easy way to start to like have that more better mood, sleep and all that kind of stuff.

Kasia:

Nice and then shavarti.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, that one once again. It's also a great women's health herb for PMS and fertility. It kind of does like the same thing as chasberry, just on another level.

Kasia:

All right. So we have like kind of the whole massive the team, the team in place for regulating your hormones.

Kasia:

And you know what I absolutely love that you called out how hormonal health, hormonal regulation, like a regular cycle, like those are tightly linked to fertility and so I think, like, whatever stage that you're in maybe like preconception or like postpartum, like these are just like supportive herbs for all stages of those journeys and they are tightly, like that is so tightly connected to think about a like hormonal health for the symptoms that you're dealing with. I mean, I have endometriosis and I've suffered from PMDD, and so it's just, you know, so important to have an awareness of, obviously, how our cycle is flowing, or not right, and the effects that that has in terms of anything from acne, mood swings, pain, fatigue, and to like really bring that back into balance. And I love you called out that some of these herbs have, like, an Ayurvedic root, and I also know for sure that some of these like have a Chinese medicine root, and so I just I feel like that is just so powerful to be able to leverage food truly to start to bring a bit more balance to your cycle.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, and I think that's so many women who like have missed periods or just like really unpredictable cycles, who just don't really think it's a big deal.

Ashley Rocha:

And then I know that they want to get pregnant one day and I know that they're thinking about like getting pregnant, like in the next year.

Ashley Rocha:

You know, if you're in that situation where you're like you don't have periods that are come regularly or unpredictable, and you think you want to get pregnant in the next few years, you need to really address that now because once the time comes to get pregnant, it kind of it takes a while to fix those issues and get on a regular like a balanced hormones.

Ashley Rocha:

Hormone balance doesn't just like happen overnight. It takes time and it's like it's something that you have to keep up and just make sure that you're really taking care of yourself and it can take a few years to prep your body properly for pregnancy. So they always recommend taking your prenatal like six months in advance. So when you try prior to starting trying to conceive and I would recommend like a year and really making sure that you have all the stores that you need, because it will affect your ability to conceive, the health of your baby and then your health postpartum, which I think a lot of people don't talk about, like that recovery process postpartum If you're healthy prior to getting pregnant, they'll be a lot easier to recover from the pregnancy.

Kasia:

Ah, so powerful. I remember that when I was in the early stages of studying Chinese medicine, one of the things they talked about that thankfully we're starting to discuss here in the West is that you know, there is that like fourth trimester and it is kind of like the continuation of, you know, like the whole journey of birthing and how important it is to replenish stores but how, yeah, to that point, preparing for postpartum starts even before you conceive. So I would love to dive into a couple of lifestyle things too, because on your social media you spend a lot of time educating women who are in various stages of their hormonal regulation journey. May it be just dealing with some of the symptoms of PMDD, endometriosis, pcos, pms, just regular, undiagnosed, beyond that PMS, and then those who are kind of looking at support postpartum. What are some of the?

Kasia:

First of all, like, what are some of the symptoms that we have to take seriously? Like, I want to name those because we talk about PMS, but you know, a lot of women, I think, kind of just brush X, Y and Z off, maybe not even realizing that it's a symptom, because society pushes us to just treat every single day of the scene. They're therefore like chug your coffee and your fatigue is normal. So like what are some of the things A that we should be looking at as cues of something might be off?

Ashley Rocha:

hormonally. You know I would say that anything that interrupts or gets in the way of you feeling your best daily or, you know, getting your work done or being with your family, is something that should be addressed. Just in general, I would say that you know painful periods like cramps, like endocramps I know that you've talked about that before Like those can really just derail a day, like you can't go to work or it was just like totally unpleasant. Like I was told by my doctor to take just Advil and take more and more Advil, so I was getting up to like 12 Advils in a day and taking that many Advil is just so bad for your stomach, like tears apart, your stomach lining. So I just don't think that you should be living with period pain or any kind of pain that has associated with women's health. Like that should just be removed from our lives. And that includes like headaches, like I had hormonal headaches that were just like almost felt like migraines. Yeah, acne, I think, is obviously a bad thing that we don't want to live with and you shouldn't have to live with, and that's just also a sign that there's some other hormonal issues underlying there.

Ashley Rocha:

And then mood swings. I think it's like a society has like said like okay, women are hormonal you know I use that like in a like a loose way that they like mood swings are just what women are programmed to have and that's not true. Like we don't have to have mood swings. That just shows that there's something off in our bodies. We shouldn't have these like huge emotional roller posters.

Ashley Rocha:

Like I think there's like great conversation in today going around about depression and anxiety and people are acknowledging that and acknowledging that we can do things about that, and that's like a bad thing. It's not something that we have to live with. And then the same thing goes with period mood swings Like depression and anxiety are a giant part of that. Like that is one in the same. So I feel like if you are experiencing that in your life, that you should really address the issues and you can. There are ways to address it. They're just not as widely known, but luckily there's a lot of women's health startups like mine that are creating the products that help women with these things.

Kasia:

Yeah, absolutely, and I think, like just starting to queue in and become aware of that and just recognize that. You know, men and women function differently, like our hormonal cycles are just so different. Like male testosterone cycles refresh Well, actually, they do like a micro refresh every 12 minutes, but they fully refresh every 24 hours, and women have anywhere from 21 to 35 day cycles with a lot of fluctuation and changing and then so all these symptoms are reflective of perhaps something not being entirely right. Hi, ladies Kasia here, so sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to jump in and chat a bit about symptoms and how the symptoms we are experiencing in our cycle are signals from our bodies. Ashley talks about it on today's episode and Dr Wright-Tarrell, who is the amazing OBGYN that we had on our podcast a couple of weeks ago, talked about it on her episode as well how our cycle clues you into what's working versus what's not working in your body. This is so important and often it is not easy to really be attuned to the symptoms that we are experiencing throughout our cycles.

Kasia:

If you've been listening to this podcast, then you already know that one of my passions is menstrual care and health, and symptom awareness is one of the many features that is available with our planner, inflow Planner, which is also the planner that is sponsoring this podcast. Inflow is a wellness planner for women. It helps you align your schedule with your hormones and it helps you bring mindful awareness to what's happening within your body throughout your cycle. It is personalized instead of starting on a Monday, it starts on day one of your cycle, whatever day of week that is, and offers over a hundred daily tips for movement, mindfulness and food. So if you're looking to bring awareness to your cycle and your symptoms, and if you want a tool that is based in research and wellness, this is the planner for you. You can head to infloplannercom to learn more and you can use our code podcast 10 for 10% off for all of my listeners.

Kasia:

All right now back to the episode. So let's talk about lifestyle hacks, because, beyond obviously supplementing with herbs and kind of treating food as medicine which I absolutely adore what are some of the things that we should be looking at when it comes to regulating our hormones, that we can adjust in our lifestyle? So you can name the top three.

Ashley Rocha:

Okay, I'll do a gut, easy lift for the first one and I would say ditch things with fragrance fragrances in them. So I mean this is gonna be really sad for a lot of people who love candle.

Kasia:

I wasn't expecting that, by the way. I was expecting you to be like sleep. You know everyone's like yeah, yeah, okay, fragrance.

Ashley Rocha:

I was like sleep, but we all know that, so You're a new mom, so you're like whenever you can.

Kasia:

So all right, fragrances number one tell us about that.

Ashley Rocha:

So like candles sent to, laundry detergents, perfumes, skincare that's not clean, that contains added fragrances like I think we can all identify when something has like a fragrance to it. That's not a natural fragrance, that's not like an essential oil. So I would just get that stuff out of your home. Get up like remove your laundry detergent, that or your those things called the dryer balls that you put in dryer sheets.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, those are not necessary, so just use things that are unscented. These fragrances are hormone disruptors so they're really bad for you and I really also hate to bring this to the table. But there's been a study that came out recently about lavender oil and tea tree oils, or essential oils that can cause hormonal like effects on estrogen and testosterone in the body, so they can mimic or pose the actions of sex hormones and they may also be considered endocrine disruptors. So they did a study in teenage girls and there was and they saw that persistent exposure to these two essential oils were associated with premature breast development. So just something to keep in mind about the essential oils by definitely say get rid of all those fake fragrances and then also, once you do it like when you start to like get a whip of that in the world, you kind of get grossed out by them once you have removed them for your life for a while. So I know it's sad to get rid of your candles, but just do it, you won't regret it.

Kasia:

I want to pause on this actually for a minute, like and I love that you mentioned the whole tea tree and lavender situation, because I think there's this like maybe misconception sometimes that okay, if it has like the term natural on it, it is safe. Do you substitute substitute, excuse me, with anything, or is it just like unscented as best? Is there like something that you would turn to that would be like a more natural version, or just like go unscented straight up?

Ashley Rocha:

I just do unscented, I just go straight up.

Kasia:

It's just easy. Okay, so that's number one on your list. What would you rank as number two and number three? Okay so diet, like.

Ashley Rocha:

It's probably the answer to like everything in life, of course. So I would say your diet is super important and I know that's like an annoying answer because everybody knows that, but I would say, like, specifically about diet, eat enough protein every meal. So you should be eating 15 to 30 grams of protein per meal and, for reference, an egg or three eggs is 18 grams of protein. So just getting enough protein in your diet is really important and there's different ways like you can do that. Obviously by eating like really protein heavy things like eggs and chicken.

Ashley Rocha:

Like a hack I do is like I add hemp seeds and chia seeds to like a lot of things, like even throwing like in pancakes or french toast, like smoothies obviously you know like everything, because one tablespoon of hemp seeds and chia seeds can have like three to five grams of protein. So proteins are important for your body to produce protein derived hormones, such as peptide hormones, and these hormones play a crucial role in regulating many processes like stress, reproduction, appetite, metabolism. So get enough protein. And then this one I would say is probably when we grow for some people, but eat organ meat. I don't know if you eat more organ meat.

Kasia:

I try sometimes I know like my acupuncturist is like it is the meat of life. But yeah, okay, tell us, tell us what's going on there.

Ashley Rocha:

Well, it gives you the healthy presence of vitamin B12 in your daily diet, which keeps estrogen, estrogen dominance and check, and estrogen dominance is really actually what I used to have before I took care of my hormone problems. But you can do this by eating pate and liver and if that like is gross to you like I actually like really like pate now but you can eat grass fed organ complex and capsule, so it's just like freeze dried organ meat that is like super easy to take like a capsule of organ meat. So that's a little hack for getting that organ meat in your diet. And then you also want to always like eat organic, obviously because you want to avoid pesticides and the endocrine disruptors that live in pesticides.

Ashley Rocha:

And ditch the nonstick pans and plastic Tupperware. I think we've all heard that and seen articles on that in the news. But that's like super important. Like don't store your food in plastic containers. It will leach into your food. Don't use nonstick pans. The coating on the pans is like super toxic. So just the way you prepare your food is as important as the food itself.

Kasia:

I love this. I mean, I feel like this is just such a trend of like a theme. I guess not trend, but a theme. I'm happy it's a trend because people are actually talking about this. Even Peter Atea was starting to talk about PFAS and PFAS in the water supply and just like, and obviously Teflon you know, the coating on a lot of nonstick pans and kind of plastic water bottles are like huge contributors to PFAS in our water supply, but it is truly everywhere and I love that people are finally mentioning this.

Kasia:

I had Jenna Hua on here and I'll deep link the episode below, but she's the founder of Million Marker. She, too, actually launched this company. She's a Stanford Berkeley postdoc, phd, one from Stanford, one from Berkeley I don't remember exactly which one, but I can like link that below Environmental scientist who was struggling with fertility and she dug into some of the animal studies, which are also deep link below, around how endocrine disruptors and just the toxins that we find in our food, in our environment, are impacting fertility, and this is measurable, measurable impacts in animal studies. And so it is just wild like one drop of an endocrine disruptor in 20 Olympic sized swimming pools is all you need to start to mess up with your hormones. I mean, that is just wild to consider.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, and it's also really hard, if not impossible, to get rid of them once they're in your body. So you are, you're going to be living with those rest of your life, the impacts in your health, the rest of your life.

Kasia:

Yeah, actually a very crazy stat on that exact thing. Bloomberg put out a documentary on this and the two ways to reduce the presence of forever chemicals in your blood supply. Option one is through blood donation, which is just crazy, and option two is through giving birth and breastfeeding. Is that not wild? So like and that was like one thing that we talked about on her episode that she brought up is like your choices for how, in this case, you're regulating your hormones and feeding yourself and your family has an impact not just on you but if you are planning to have kids, like your future children. So I'm so glad you brought this up. It's so, so, so important and I'm happy more people are talking about it.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, and it's also really scary because if you the times that you encounter those chemicals in in your life, so if you're pregnant at specific times, if you take those in your body, they have a significant impact on your, your child's future and your child's health, and during breastfeeding as well. So, like those like there's like pivotal times that you, like extra, really want to avoid those things coming into your body because they can affect your health in huge, huge ways.

Kasia:

Yeah, absolutely so. Before we shift gears to talk a bit about business because I always love picking your brain about this stuff I want to talk about postpartum care. Obviously you've been through that recently. Do you have any thoughts on perhaps some things that women can think about or do to prepare for an easier postpartum period? I'm curious to get your perspective on that.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, I think it's so hard to prepare for postpartum. I think, especially for first time moms, you just don't know what's about to hit you. But with postpartum I think the best thing you can do is eat healthy. You can prepare foods ahead of times like leafy greens, egg yolks. Those things are all really good for you postpartum.

Ashley Rocha:

And so once you're in that period, it's really hard to nourish yourself as a new mom because you're taking care of this kid and while maybe you're a maternity leafy, you might think you have all the time in the world, like you really don't between breastfeeding and like cleaning up after the kid and just like all the things that go into it. Like I just find myself like sometimes I just like forget to eat all day long and it's just because I'm so busy taking care of this kid, this baby that needs me constantly, and then I have another kid that needs me constantly. So just eating in general and having a good diet in general, just having those foods on the ready and thinking about that ahead of time, is really important. So like having frozen foods or just having like a plan to get like proper nutrition in your life is very important.

Kasia:

I love that. I saw an app recently on Instagram and I'm going to find it and link it below, but it was this app that, basically, rather than just kind of providing gifts for the baby as part of a baby shower, they offered all of these gifts for, like the parents, you know. So you had the option to buy childcare ahead of time or like contribute to that fund, or contribute to food preparation or delivery funds, you know, like, obviously not all food delivery.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, that's totally genius. I got gifted some gift certificates for about like place. I delivered smoothies and lunches, but daily harvest right. It's a little harvest and they gave me that. I was like that is like the best present I got, because you know I have like a billion baby blankets. But you know, daily harvest like was crucial for that moment.

Kasia:

I love that I am. I recently, for one of my friends who had a baby, I like we did do like the standard gift registry, like purchase something off of there and then when she got home, I sent her bone broth like really herb, like collagen rich bone broth from this incredible woman here in the Bay Area and like delivered them to her house and she was just thanking me for like a month afterwards.

Kasia:

You know like I feel like that those are the gifts we all yeah, like you really want to do something nice out there for your mom who just had a baby, like bring her food, like healthy food, in in glass Tupperware, obviously.

Ashley Rocha:

Yeah, and I well, I'm sure it's different for all areas, but in Marin, where I live, there's doulas that do postpartum like food prep for you. So it's hard, of course, to like store food in your freezer and then like I like I don't like reheated food, to be honest, so like it was hard for me to prepare for food like that, but like you can hire a postpartum doula to prepare meals for you that specialize in getting the right nutrients that a new mother needs and you know bringing those food over. So I think this is like a very overlooked situation is like how are you going to get that food? Because, yeah, ordering like Thai food on caviar you're I mean, I, you know, do it all the time, but it comes in like these plastic containers. It's not like the most high quality food. So just making sure you're balancing that with some like really quality home cooked meals Important.

Kasia:

Yeah, so powerful. Okay, so I keep chatting with you forever and luckily I do see you often so we can do that in real life. But I do have kind of a personal question to ask you. You mentioned at the beginning, obviously, one of the words, three words that you would use to describe yourself is mother, and but you are also so much more than that. Not only are you a friend, you're my friend. You're, you know like, you're an incredible partner, you're a founder.

Kasia:

I'm curious, how do you balance your identity as a mother and a founder? And what I mean specifically is like I feel like motherhood requires so many like nurturing qualities and patience and all these other things. Like I imagine your baby is what, like puking on you one second and then you jump on a call and like negotiate with I don't know like the fulfillment center, the next. So I'm just curious, how does that look like for you? And or have you not quite even figured that out yet and it's like kind of a work in progress? But how do you toggle between almost like two different energetic parts, like identity parts, when you're kind of navigating this place in your life? I think?

Ashley Rocha:

that it gets easier to like turn one on off or to one off, turn one on as your kids get older and like I have a three year old and daycare and it was easier to kind of be like my working self and then my mom and the situation where the kids get older. But when you have a baby it's all encompassing. Like I breastfeed on zoom calls all the time, like you'll see like a little hand come up in the screen like grabbing my hair, like I'm like trying to like shoot him down. And with my first kid, like I was I wouldn't say embarrassed but there's some kind of like I think shame coming with like being a mom and like trying to be on a zoom call and working. But with the second kid I'm like I just don't care at all, like this is who I am. I have a kid and I'm trying to run a business and like I think that's it's more empowering. I'm just like now I think it's like really cool, like I am a boss.

Ashley Rocha:

With my first kid it was a little bit, I was a little bit more shy about it, but it's just you can't like when you have a young kid, you just can't like really delineate between the two worlds, like it's all one in the same, and being a mother has made me more an empathetic person, so I'm I'm also more accepting of like good enough now. So I have my vendors and you know I always used to like be very annoyed, like if it's been wasn't the perfect way I wanted it, but now I'm like a little bit more, a little bit more softer around things that don't come in exactly the way I wanted it. Things are good enough for right now. No, I always come back to it later. So I think it's like help me in that way, which I think is like a healthy approach to life in general.

Kasia:

I love that. I love that. That's really so powerful. And you know, I will also echo to what you were saying about you know kind of embracing that part of yourself and not being ashamed of it anymore with your second kid, especially like you never know who you're inspiring, Like I have shared the story of you showing up with that kid at that networking event to like so many people at this point, because I'm just so in awe and I thought that was just so cool and it's that makes me feel good.

Ashley Rocha:

I was a little bit nervous to bring him to be honest. Really, oh my.

Kasia:

God, I thought it was so cool, but it just goes to show you that the things that you know, perhaps we feel ashamed of that. We're like, oh, like you know, but at the same time, I'm just going to step through that discomfort and do it anyway. Like you just don't know who you're inspiring. On the other end, like I'm sure that there were so many women there either, women who don't have kids yet who are like, oh, like, when is the timing going to be right? Like I have so many founder friends who don't have kids, who I shared this story.

Kasia:

Like I use you as an example because I just thought it was so cool, you know, and actually I remember sitting up at because I was moderating the event, so I was sitting up at the panel and all of the women that were like on the panel are just like, oh, that is so sick. And they were discussing how, like, oh, I wish I had done that back in the day, you know, because these were founders that were like further along and their kids are a bit older and she's like I never felt comfortable enough to do it, but, you know, your kids are just so great at that age, like it's just so easy to strap them on and go for it. You know it's just easier than even when they get a little older. So you just never know who you're inspiring to show up differently by doing that. Well, I love that.

Kasia:

I'm so glad. Yes, All right. So we are just about at time and I would love for you to share. Where can our audience find you? I'm going to hyperlink everything below. If you have something cool coming up that you want to share, please do. And yeah, go for it.

Ashley Rocha:

Um, well, you can find my get ladywellcom, so that's my website for Ladywell, and then we can shop, for we have a daily hormone balance, which is so great for, like a lot of different issues, including PMS, perimenopause, fertility. So if you're thinking about having kids within the next year or you're trying to have kids, it's really important to just get your hormone oil health in line and in check. And then also check out my Instagram, get ladywell, so you'll find a lot of cool tricks there and hacks for helping you with your hormones, hormone balance, fertility and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, awesome.

Kasia:

Well, we're going to put that all in the show notes for you all, and actually it was such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me today. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was great to talk to you. Thanks y'all. See you next time. Thank you so much for tuning into the other way. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a five star review. It really helps the podcast grow and I'm ever so grateful. If you want to stay connected, you can find information on how in our show notes. And finally, if you're curious about in flow and want free resources around cyclical living or moon cycles, check out infloplinercom. And, of course, for all my listeners, you can use the code podcast 10 and that's all lower case podcast 10 for 10% off any purchase. All right, that's all for today. See you next time.

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