"When will I get my first period?"
Imagine if you could tell your daughter the exact time and location that her first period would arrive. Imagine!! She could have all her supplies ready to go, simply find a bathroom, sit on the toilet and wait. If only, right?
Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting when her first period will arrive and this can cause a lot of worry for our girls. In fact, it is one of the most common concerns raised in schools when I deliver my presentations. While there is no way of knowing the exact date, time and place that Aunt Flow will arrive, there are a number of signs that her body is etching closer to getting her first period. Of course, no girl is the same and every girl’s journey through puberty will look slightly different but some common signs to look out for are:
- Breast development started 2-2.5 years ago.
- Underarm hair has started to appear.
- Discharge began in the last 6-12 months.
- Major mood changes and heightened emotions.
- Abdominal discomfort or light cramps right before first period. *disclaimer: could also be gas.
It’s really helpful when preparing your daughter for her first period (and the 450 after that), to think back to when you started menstruating; what do you wish you knew? Honing in on the things that you wish someone had told you will help you when speaking to your daughter about this new season her body is entering.
Here’s my top three tips for preparing your daughter for getting her first period.
ONE: Prepare a period pack.
You can make this into a fun date with your daughter by copying this list and heading to the shops for a special treat and some shopping. If your daughter is regularly packing a separate bag for sports training, dancing or between parents houses, you may like to put together two period packs so she doesn’t need to worry about switching it between bags.
Here’s what you will need to prepare an awesome period pack:
- A pencil case. I like to recommend pencil cases as they are discreet when pulling them out of a school bag. Let your girls pick out something fun. Mums, put your label maker away!! No girl needs to be walking around with a bag labelled PERIOD PACK… kind of defeats the purpose of choosing an inconspicuous pencil case doesn’t it?
- 3-4 pads. Our favourite brands are TOM Organic or Juuni Co. Both of these brands use 100% organic cotton and are free from any nasty hormone altering chemicals.
- A spare pair of undies OR
- A pair of period underwear. A pair of period underwear can hold on average 3-4 tampons worth of blood, which means that your girl should be able to get through an entire day at school with just one pair of underwear. If this is her chosen method of period care, she won’t have any need for pads but they are still always good to have on hand, if not for herself then for a friend. Our favourite brand is Modibodi who have their very own (and very cool) teen collection.
- A small plastic bag for any messy undies.
- A treat. Yes, a treat. This is perhaps the most important item on the list. Once your girl gets her period, she can take a moment to breathe, gather herself and enjoy her sweet of choice.
- A letter from you. This is optional but how lovely to think that when your girl gets her period for the first time, she can open up a little letter from you reminding her of her amazing body, how healthy she is, that she knows what to do and cheering her on.
TWO: Walk her through what to do.
I’ll never forget the period education experience (or lack of) that my girlfriend shared with me. Her mother simply put a pad on top of her sandwich in her lunchbox one day. Yup. That was it. No words, no explanation, just “here’s a pad”… and a sandwich. We’re all just doing our very best, but if we can easily eliminate the worry and stigma around her period, then why not?
I highly recommend doing a walkthrough in the bathroom at home with her. Role-play what would happen when she gets her first period with you being the actress of the show. Get your drama on! Chances are she is not going to have her pack with her when her period first arrives so you may need to teach her to make a “toilet paper pad” to see her through until she can get to her bag, a friend or an adult to get some period supplies. Teach her how to open a pad and place it in her underwear (I always like to stress sticky side down haha… otherwise…what a mess). Show her step by step how to change a pad. Take the time to answer her questions and let her have a practice of putting a pad in her underwear too.
THREE: Paint periods in a positive light.
Let her know that having a healthy period is a sign that her body is healthy and she is taking care of herself well. Share with her about the amazing design of the female body that EVERY month it prepares and makes way for life. Their period is nothing to be ashamed of and there are always adults (teachers, coaches, school nurse, parents) that are there to help and support her at any time. Encourage her to use her voice if she needs help, after all every adult female on the planet menstruates.
Perhaps one of the most important messages our girls need to hear is that their period does not have to stop them from living their best life and doing the things they love. Or even achieving great things. There are Olympic gold medals that have been won by women while menstruating!! This may mean that they need to get comfortable early using tampons, period swimwear or menstrual cups so that they continue to pursue their passions and the things that make them feel alive. If your girl is having abnormally heavy periods (soaking a pad or tampon every 1-2 hours) or painful periods that stop her from being able to take part in her normal daily activities, then a trip to your trusted doctor might be worthwhile.
She’s totally got this, and so do you Mumma! Let’s set our girls up for a win.
Part 02 of The Bloom Collection walks her through the details of getting her first period and can help you to get these conversations started! Click here to shop Blossom, Baby!