Can you remember that fateful day you started your first period? I would venture to state that it is an unforgettable milestone in a girl’s life. We all have different experiences, views and feelings about our first period.
I was and still am a very modest person; personal things stay personal. I recollect that my biggest concern the day I got my first period was no longer being considered “daddy’s little girl”, so I didn’t want anyone to know. I made my mom promise not to tell a soul. Of course that was a silly worry, but at the time it was monumental. My mother respected my privacy and quelled my fears.
On the other hand, my best friend, at the time, was the epitome of extrovert. She was so very proud of the arrival of her first period. She announced it to the world. Her mom even threw her a party. My best friend and I survived the experience with the support of our mothers. We both received the needed support in the moment because our moms followed our leads.
For those of us who have little girls, the time will come. Have you thought about it? Do you know how you are going to react and what you will say? The discussion can seem insurmountable as you look into the eyes of your ten year old daughter wishing she would stay small for a little longer. Geez, parenting is tough! Here are some things to consider when preparing your mind for that day.
The first year of her menstrual cycles can be extremely unpredictable, and that is normal. The communication between the brain, ovaries and uterus has not completely matured at the time of the first period and may take up to a year for it to completely mature and regulate. So, she may skip periods every few months, some months may be heavy and some months may just be spotting. You and your daughter should be aware that if after a year her periods are still irregular, or if her periods are extremely heavy (saturating through a pad or tampon and hour or passing large clots), she should be evaluated by a physician. When talking to your daughter about her period, be sure to use correct terminology. Avoid using slang. If you are uncomfortable with explaining this to your daughter another option is to make a consult appointment with a gynecologist, this visit would not require a physical exam but merely a discussion of the changes that occur during puberty.
2. Be supportive.
This may look different for each girl. Avoid shaming or embarrassing your daughter. Follow her lead. If she is excited then be excited and celebrate. If she would rather keep it on the D-L, then don’t go telling the world.
3. Encourage communication.
Be sure to allow your daughter to speak freely without interruption. Remind her that she can always talk with you about her concerns. Be open to questions.
4. Take this time to talk to her about sex.
She can get pregnant so she needs to be knowledgeable about the risks of pregnancy and the ways to protect herself.
5. Help her to be ready for her next period with supplies.
Give her the option of pad vs tampon vs menstrual cup. Explain how to use them. If she chooses to use tampons or menstrual cup, be sure to impress on her the importance of changing tampons and menstrual cup, regularly. Do you remember the nightmare of starting your period at school with no supplies? Ugh that is the ultimate in embarrassment that no girl should ever have to go through. Put together a period survival kit to keep with her for school. Remember, during the first year her period may be completely unpredictable, so a pre-prepared kit will come in handy.
This moment in time is full of emotions for both you and your daughter. Embrace the emotions. Talk about it with each other. Follow her lead. It is a time of empowerment. Good luck!