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While once upon a time it was was a taboo topic, it’s becoming more open this day and age in our Western worlds. Advertisements for feminine care products are being proudly presented. Girls and women are encouraged to explore, understand, love, and respect their bodies, and all of it’s functions. There are campaigns that advocate the need to spread awareness and normalize periods.
Having your period is now associated with strength, girl power, and femininity.
As it should be.
When your daughter gets her first period she may have feelings of embarrassment or fear. You can help extinguish these feelings by making sure you give her as much information about the changes in her body as possible. Here’s what your daughter needs to know about her period:
Why women have periods
Your uterus (where a baby would develop if you were pregnant) has a lining. That lining thickens in preparation for a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, that lining sheds as blood from your vagina. The bleeding lasts approximately 3-7 days.
It’s 100% NORMAL! It’s a natural body process that all women go through. It will start when she is anywhere around 11 years old: maybe a few years before, maybe a few years after. She will start by getting some pubic hair and her breasts will begin to bud. Shortly after that she will begin her menses. It will end when she is anywhere around 45: maybe a few years before, maybe a few years after. Basically, she’s going to be dealing with this for quite some time.
Now’s also a good time to have a conversation about sex, too. She can become pregnant now, and she deserves to understand that her actions can potentially have consequences.
The options for how you want to go about taking care of your period blood is vast. There are conventional pads and tampons that you can get at almost any store, but there are also some really cool and fun products, too!
First, it may seem less than appealing at first, but reusable cloth pads can add some fun and individuality to the way you wear your feminine care products. From tie-dye, to paisley, to flowers you can coordinate every part of your outfit! For more info on how to care for your reusable cloth pads check out this video here. Our society accepts cloth diapers…why not cloth menstrual pads?
On the topic of reusable, a Diva Cup is another great option. It’s comfortable, economical, and easy to use. It offers 12 hours of protection, and you don’t have to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome like you do with tampons. It takes some getting used to, so you have to make sure you give yourself some time to figure out how to make it the most comfortable for you. Either way, there’s a method to inserting either a tampon or a reusable cup. You can find graphics on the internet that will give her some insight on how to do it correctly.
If using reusable products doesn’t suit you, there are also organic cotton products that work SO WELL! You’ll have peace of mind that you won’t have any leakage or chemicals in your body.
Explain to her the importance of changing her pad/tampon/reusable cup frequently so as to avoid any unpleasant odor that may make her self-conscious. Also, gently inform her of the potential risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome from her leaving a tampon in her body for too long.
How your body feels during your period
Some women are blessed with relatively easy peasy periods, while some women are cursed with awful symptoms. Don’t lead your daughter to think that her period won’t likely be uncomfortable. Chances are she may have the typical period symptoms: cramping, tender breasts, sore back, headache, upset stomach, appetite changes, etc. Then, there’s the emotional and mental side of symptoms that can cause mood swings, irritability, sadness, to name a few.
Let her know that these things are all normal. Allow her to express her symptoms to you, and provide suggestions to offer relief. Hot water bottles, various pain relief options, plenty of chocolate, and a ton of patience are ways you can help her through these times.
What you can and can’t do on your period
What you can do: Whatever you feel like.
What you can’t do: Whatever you feel like.
How she’s feeling dictates what she can participate in. Some women get exceptionally bad cramping, irritability, etc., so give her the benefit of the doubt if and when she says she doesn’t feel up to something.
How to avoid embarrassment
While your period is often on a set cycle (every 28 days, for example), sometimes it surprises the best of us. Make sure to encourage your daughter to keep her backpack fully equipped with whatever feminine care products she needs and a few quarters just in case. Explain to her how she can roll toilet paper around her undies to act as a pad in case she can’t get one, and how to wrap a sweater around her waist in case there’s any leakage. Fill her in on the fact that light colored clothing is not ideal when you’re having your period.
The biggest part of her not being embarrassed is teaching her to not care what anyone else thinks. This is a totally natural occurrence that EVERY woman has to go through. By keeping her informed about her body’s natural processes she will have confidence. She will be able to maturely explain the wonder that is her body in the case of any taunting that may come her way from her peers that don’t fully understand.
Take a deep breath. This is definitely a tricky subject, but you’re going to do great. She’s been watching you for years. She probably has an idea of what her period entails and is likely excited for you to explain it to her.
She will want to share with you the experience that she will have as she enters womanhood. Use positive language. Take this opportunity to bond with her. Use these moments to help shape her expectation and attitude about her period. Make it a celebration!
Don’t feel the need to have an extensive conversation with her at one time. Break it into smaller conversations that are easier to digest (for both of you). If you don’t have an answer, tell her you don’t know! Offer her the opportunity for the two of you, or her by herself, to head down to the library or public health unit to find the answers.
Lastly, if you’re uncomfortable talking to your daughter about her period use pre-made letter as a guideline. Print it off as is or customize it. Use it as a tool to help make this transition easier for the both of you!