So, your little girl is now blossoming into a young lady. Congratulations! This, however, can be an anxious time for the both of you so it’s best to be prepared. Prepare her for one of the biggest changes puberty brings--menstruation--and be the person your daughter can come to with the help of these tips.
1. Talk about it early on. Girls usually get their period at around 12 years old, but it can also start as early as 8 years old or as late as 16. That's why it's crucial that you talk to her about menstruation before it happens. The earlier you begin talking to your daughter about it, the better, advises Mayo Clinic. And don’t just have one big sit-down conversation to get it over with. Talk often and answer your daughter’s questions as best you can. You can also use this as a starting point for a talk on sex and sexuality.
Ease both of you into the topic when you see the tell-tale signs. Budding breasts is usually the first sign that a girl has entered puberty. In the next years, she’ll see even more physical changes like hair growth, a curvier physique, and growing taller. Two years into this, and the first period may arrive.
2. Tell her what to expect. When talking to your child about periods, include information on menstrual cycles and all the changes puberty brings. Leave little room for surprises to help your child feel more at ease as she enters adolescence. Plus, there are also tons of preteen-friendly sources you can look up together like books and videos on the internet. If she wants to watch on her own, let her. Here are two sources we like:
Cover the specifics as well. Explain that her first few periods will most likely be light in flow and won’t come regularly--it won't have a set schedule yet like that experienced by a grown-up. The typical cycle is 28 days, though this varies person to person. Your daughter’s cycle may be shorter or longer than this, as short as three weeks or as long as six weeks.
Add that a period lasts for a few days, anywhere from three to seven, and that the blood color ranges and changes from red to more brownish shades. Don’t be shy to tell her that menstrual blood, unlike the blood from a cut or wound, will have a faint odor.
Explain that some discomfort, like a bit of back pain or cramps in the lower abdomen, can come especially when their period begins. Many don’t get it during the first year of their period, however. It can also come with headaches, nausea, bloating and tender breasts. Exercise, a warm compress or an over-the-counter pain reliever can help ease discomfort. But if your child experiences debilitating menstrual cramps you may want to bring her to an ob-gyn.
3. Have a little practice. To lessen your child’s worries for when the day arrives, have mom or any close adult female relative or friend show her how to position a napkin on her underwear. Let her try it out for herself, too. This way she’ll know what to do when the moment finally does come and she’ll have to do it herself. While you’re at it, teach how to properly dispose of a napkin as well, by rolling it up and wrapping it in paper or tissue.
Tell her to importance of changing her pad every four to six hours. Teach her tricks too on how she can hide stains, in the event she does get one, like wrapping a sweater around her waist or by being prepared by wearing dark colored clothing. Most importantly, tell her that many women, if not all, has gotten a tagos at one point or another.
4. Make a kit. Your daughter’s first period can happen anywhere and anytime. Many girls fear that their first period will come when they’re at school or away from home. Tagos or period leaks can be difficult to deal with and even embarrassing. Ease your child’s worries and help her be prepared by making a period kit. Pack a small pouch with period needs like napkins, a fresh pair of underwear and a packet of wet wipes. Place the pack in her school bag or have her bring it with her wherever she goes.
5. Reassure. Assure your daughter that she can still all the activities and things she usually gets into even while on her period. It shouldn’t stop her from playing sports, exercising, jumping around or riding a bike. Your daughter’s first period is a milestone, a sign she’s growing into a young lady. Puberty can be a little scary and the support of a loving parent definitely makes a huge difference.