Preparing Your Daughter For Her First Period
We’ve all gone through puberty, but how (and when?) should you explain menstruation to your daughter?
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Assure her that menstruation is normal and healthy.
One of the most heartbreaking movie scenes of all time is in the Stephen King thriller, Carrie. High School student Carrie White is completely blindsided by her first period when she starts bleeding in the gym locker room. Having never been told of menstruation, she is terrified and convinced she is dying as the cruel girls in the class taunt her, flabbergasted that she doesn’t know what a period is.
Avoid this heartbreaking scene by explaining to your daughter (well in advance of her first period) that menstruation means her body is healthy and physically capable of pregnancy—all part of human development. The sight of blood is scary, so prepare her not to be alarmed by it. Make sure she understands that the color, consistency, and amount of blood can vary during one’s period; that it will likely be very light at first; and can last anywhere from 2-7 days, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s also a good idea to explain potential side effects of menstruation—from cramping and headaches to nausea and diarrhea—and how they can be managed.
Explain the various period products available.
Though it may seem obvious to an adult, a child doesn’t yet understand the differences between a tampon, a sanitary napkin, or a menstrual cup. Make sure she grasps the purpose of each and reassure her that when the time comes, you will help her learn to use them.
Prepare her for potential accidents.
Every woman has at least one story of being humiliated at school, when her period leaked onto their clothing, or at a sleepover, when she stained someone’s sheets. Explain that these accidents happen and ways to be prepared. Let her know that there is no reason to be embarrassed to tell another adult she’s had an “accident.”
Avoid accidents by having supplies on hand, doubling up on products, and dressing with the possibility of leaks in mind—every woman eventually learns the lesson of not wearing white pants during her period! There are even special period underwear, like Thinx (BTWN or Ruby’s Teen Period Underwear, which are designed specifically for tweens and teens to help prevent leaks and accidents.
Create a “Period Kit” she can keep in her backpack.
Put together a small pouch that can be kept inside your daughter’s backpack or tote with the following items:
an extra pair of underwear
a sanitary napkin
personal cleansing wipes
and possibly, a little encouraging note from you
With this kit, when her first period does happen, she’ll be prepared wherever she is.