If you’re like a lot of women from our generation, you learnt a whole lot of what you know about periods from Dolly Doctor, rather than from your parents. My first period scared the hell out of me, and I have friends that didn’t even know periods were a thing, so they legitimately thought they were dying when it happened to them.
I was always determined to ensure that didn’t happen with my daughters, and that they understand periods are just a part of life and an exciting time in their lives that are a part of becoming a young woman.
The key to helping your daughter cope with her first period is to start talking about it well before it could possibly happen to her. Most girls first start to menstruate between 10 and 15, but it can start earlier, with some girls as young as 8 being reported as having their first period.
But before you even start to talk to your daughter about her periods, you can talk to her about yours. It’s really never too early. Don’t hide your tampons, pads or menstrual cups away – let her see them and talk about them with you so they are just a natural part of life.
If your daughter is a reader, there are some great books she can read that will tell her all she needs to know and what she can expect.
Some favourites include:
Don’t forget to use these books as a starting point. Once your daughter has read them encourage her to ask questions, and be open to talking about your own experiences if she’s interested.
When you think her period may start
A girl’s first period will often (but not always) come soon after a significant growth spurt, so if your daughter has done a lot of growing lately, you might want to get ready.
Preparing can be as simple as talking about a plan for when her period starts, and ensuring she has an emergency pack in her school bag with spare underwear and pads just in case. And of course be available to answer questions and share stories of your first period to reassure her that everything is normal.
When her period starts
Some mums feel uncertain about whether to offer pads or tampons – or whether a menstrual cup is okay at such a young age. Each is safe to use (although with tampons there is a tiny risk of toxic shock syndrome at any age). The most important thing is to educate your daughter on how to safely use each product, and what their pros and cons are. Then it’s really up to her to choose what works best for her body.
Some companies have great packs or samples they can send out to girls around the time of their first period. Check out:
- Carefree sample pad or tampon pack
- U by Kotex Tween Starter Pack
- Libra Girl starter kit (you need to sign up to their forum to receive your kit)
A first period needn’t be alarming, even if it does come when your daughter is relatively young. What’s important is that she is prepared, and she understands it’s a natural part of life.