How to Prepare Your Daughter for Her First Period

How to Prepare Your Daughter for Her First Period

Many women probably remember when and where they got their first period. A lot of us probably also wish we’d been a little more prepared.

These days, a girl can get her period anytime between age 8 and 13, so you’ll want to broach the topic before your daughter actually starts to menstruate. That way, she won’t be alarmed by the blood or any discomfort she may feel.

If your daughter is approaching her first period, how can you help her be ready without embarrassing her and yourself? Make an action plan so you’re both ready.

The start of menstruation is a major event in a girl’s life. Some girls greet those first drops of blood with joy or relief, while others feel confused and scared. Whatever the reaction, the arrival of the first period holds the same meaning for every girl: It’s proof that she’s becoming a woman.

Confront concerns. Your daughter is probably wondering what her period will feel like, how long it will last, and how she can take care of herself each month. Let her know that asking questions is OK.

It’s probably best to avoid “The Talk” about menstruation. Instead, try to spread it out into lots of smaller conversations — education about how the human body works should be continuous. Otherwise, too much importance is placed on a single discussion and the information can be overwhelming. Kids reaching puberty should already know what’s going to happen to their bodies.

Dads, if this topic is outside your comfort zone, ask an older daughter or female relative to bring it up. Your daughter might be just as uncomfortable talking with you about her period as you are.

Throughout childhood, kids ask many questions and each is an opportunity for parents to advance their kids’ knowledge. Doing so not only gives kids the information they need when they ask for it, but also lets them know that their parents are available for and comfortable with these discussions.

But you shouldn’t necessarily wait for their questions to talk about puberty and menstruation. Ideally, by the time they’re close to puberty, both girls and boys should have full knowledge of the changes that will take place in their bodies. Why? Kids really want to learn about most things from their parents. And you can be sure that they’ll also hear their friends discuss these changes.

It’s also important for parents to paint the process of menstruation in a positive light. If a mother refers to her period as “the curse,” her daughter might get a negative impression of the whole experience.

Common Questions About Periods

Kids — both girls and boys — often have lots of questions about menstruation, such as:

  • How come only girls have periods? Explain that boys change in different ways during puberty, like the deepening of their voices and the growth of facial hair. Getting her period means a girl can have a baby. Periods happen because of changes in the uterus — a body part that girls have but boys do not.
  • How long does a period last and how much blood is there? It varies for each girl, but some have their period for 3 days and others have it for a week.
  • Do girls have to stop playing sports or swimming while they have their periods? Girls should understand they can do everything they normally would do — as long as they’re comfortable.
  • Do girls always have cramps with their periods? Concern about cramps is a big issue for some girls. While most girls eventually have some cramps, many do not for the first year or two of getting their periods. It’s important to tell girls that cramps usually only last a few days.

Tips for Talking

Just as parents might be slightly embarrassed to talk with their children about menstruation, kids and teens may find it difficult to let mom and dad know their questions or concerns. If talking about menstruation is awkward for you, here are some ways to make discussions a little easier and more open:

  • Look for good books and videos or DVDs that can help foster a more comfortable and educational conversation.
  • Speak to your family doctor about ways to talk about menstruation and puberty.
  • Coordinate your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your child receives in school. Ask your child’s teacher about his or her plans and for any advice.
  • To break the ice, try asking your child some questions that will help you both ease into discussions. Ask what kind of questions he or she has while you walk down the feminine-hygiene products aisle at your grocery store or while you watch a commercial for pain relievers advertised to alleviate symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual syndrome)
  • If you hear your child mention something related to getting a period, spur a conversation by asking where the information came from. Questions can be a great way to set the record straight on any misconceptions kids might have.
  • It’s important to tell kids the truth about menstruation in an age-appropriate way and to be comfortable with the accuracy of that information. Don’t be put off by their questions — they’re probably the same questions you had at that age, and now you can answer them.

Make a period kit

Stock up on sanitary pads before her first period. Explain how a pad is worn and when to change it. If she’s curious, suggest that she try wearing one to see how it feels.

Many girls fear they’ll get their first period at school or when they’re away from home. To help your daughter feel ready, buy a small zippered pouch and stock it with a couple of teen-size sanitary pads and a clean pair of underwear. Tell your daughter to keep the pouch with her at all times, and keep one with you, too, just in case.

Her kit can also be a way to deal with another of the biggest period fears: a leak. “Tell her that if her underwear gets soiled, she can just wrap it in toilet paper and throw it away in the little trash can in the bathroom stall” and use the clean pair in her kit.

Don’t forget to emphasise on how she will need to maintain hygiene during her period, including how to dispose a sanitary napkin or tampon. Tell her how often she might need to change sanitary napkins and how important it is to keep herself clean and dry to avoid any skin rashes or infections.

If she’s excited about her period, celebrate and take her out to dinner, just the two of you. If she wants to keep the news quiet, respect that, and let her tell people only if she wants to (and ask her how she’d like to handle telling Dad, if at all). Either way, be positive; if you seem negative or embarrassed, she might think her period is something to be ashamed of.

NOTE : Period mishaps are bound to happen, so help your daughter pick a trusted adult she can ask for help if she’s away from home. It may be a coach, teacher, counselor, or a friend’s parent.

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