How to Prepare Your Daughter For Their First Menstruation
Preparing your child for their first period may seem like a herculean task, especially if you have never had proper preparations growing up, or you never had one at all. But it doesn’t have to be!
Many women remember their first period experience. So it’s our job as parents to make sure that this adolescent body transformation is open, honest and positive.
1. Evaluate your own ideas about periods
Menstrual cycles are often surrounded by stigma. Oftentimes, we joke about a person being in a bad mood just “PMS-ing,” or that period in of itself is “icky.” These beliefs would often make us hide our periods, our supplies, and how we handle it.
It’s time we open up about the conversation. Even before you can talk about periods with your daughter, you first have to check your own beliefs about menstruation, what are the narratives that you grew up with, and how can you make the idea of periods a more positive experience for your daughter.
You can start the first period talk even before the first period arrives! You can both explore a different angle, like what it's like to grow up and go through typical, healthy body changes. And, if you have bad experiences with your period, it doesn’t guarantee your child will. In fact, it is up to you to make the experience a less daunting and scary one for her.
2. Explain what’s going on with their body
Between the ages of 12 and 14, most girls get their first period. It's usual, however, if it starts a bit early or late. So, before her first period, make sure your daughter is well-informed on menstruation and natural puberty changes.
Tell her when her periods begin, how long they last, how long it takes between cycles and other details. You can also discuss the certain pains they may experience, such as hurting breasts, and discomfort in their abdomen. This way, you can segway to home treatments for period cramps or pain remedies available over the counter.
You can also discuss how their skin may change. Estrogen and progesterone levels would lower during period days, and it might affect the production of sebum. This in turn could cause some pimples or acne to appear, and if your child has especially sensitive skin when sick, this might be something they should be prepared for.
3. Explore period supplies and make a period kit together
Pads, tampons, period panties, and subscription services are examples of supplies that you may want to check out together. Explain how there are a variety of choices for protecting their clothes when they get their period—including ones you haven't tried—and invite her to go look at some with you. If you want an option that advocates sustainability, you can look into period cups and reusable pads!
For children who are a bit shy about this whole ordeal, you can prepare some of the things that you normally use and assure them that you have them in stock. Make sure that they know you are open to questions and would gladly answer and explain how it works or how to set it properly. By being there, you’re indicating that there’s nothing weird, creepy, or inappropriate about this.
In addition to this, many young women are afraid about getting their first period at school or when away from home. What you can do is you can prepare a small zippered pouch and fill it with a couple of teen-size sanitary pads and a clean pair of underwear to make your daughter feel prepared. Tell your daughter to have the bag on her person at all times. A period kit can also help her deal with one of the most common period fears: a leak.
4. Get everyone in the family involved in the conversation
You can also have your husband in on the conversation (or if you’re reading this as a dad who wants to be in on the prep, hats off to you!). Dads can angle the conversation into what a boy’s body undergoes during puberty as well. Sans the period, they do everything else on the list anyway, such as growing taller, gaining weight, having acne, growing new hair, the works.
We should also include our sons in the conversation! By teaching them what is actually happening during a woman’s menstrual cycle, it not only informs them about it, but it also normalizes the conversations about a woman’s period.
5. Teach them how they can track her cycle
Periods can be irregular, which isn't necessarily indicative of a problem but can sometimes be. So, have your daughter track her menstrual cycle with a diary or an app. Keeping track of your periods can help you in a variety of ways, including avoiding emergency situations and better understanding your personal patterns.
6. Remind them that periods are normal
It might sound ridiculous to point out the obvious, but this will really help your child feel more at ease and less isolated about their experiences. Olympic athletes, pop stars, astronauts, teachers, and their peers all have periods. And being that part of a sisterhood normalizes the experience and makes menstruation all the more human.
Adolescence is a period of many changes and menstruation is possibly one of the most important changes for many young women. So, make sure you have an open and honest conversation about menstruation with your daughter, teach her how to track periods, take her shopping for supplies, and get other family members involved in your period talk. For more helpful mommy tips like these, head over to Yum Yum Mama.