Preparing Your Daughter for her First Period
When do Girls Start Their Periods?
Some perfectly normal girls get their first period as early as nine years old. And others ---equally healthy and normal don’t begin menstruating until fifteen years of age or even later.
Indications of puberty include but are not restricted to breast development, growth of pubic and underarm hair. Most mothers can predict within a few months when their daughters are going to have their first period by recalling their own experience.
Books can Help
Thanks to sex education in schools and quite explicit advertisements for personal care products, most young girls know at least some of the facts before they experience their first period. But no matter how much they know about the process, most girls still need practical advice on how to actually deal with their periods. They also need reassurance that even while menstruating, they can continue with their favorite sports and activities.
A few (or several) good books on menstruation, puberty, and generally growing up are a good investment. Regardless, of how much sex education is taught in school, a book of your own is invaluable for private study and reference. Also the tone of the book: chatty, serious, or funny can make a big difference to your daughter’s attitude.
Sanitary pads and feminine products
Choosing Feminine Products
While waiting for the first period, you might like to help your daughter prepare a “feminine” bag or drawer.
What this bag or drawer contains is up to you and your girl. At the very least, it should contain several sanitary pads in various absorbencies and sizes, a few sets of underwear and a box of feminine wipes. Don’t assume that your daughter will like what you like. It is a good idea to go to the store together and purchase a variety of sanitary products so that eventually your daughter can decide what works for her. A choice of soaps, talcum powder and deodorants will stress the extra hygiene required during a period.
Your daughter should also prepare a small cosmetic bag containing a sanitary pad and a pair of panties for her locker in case she starts a period during school hours.
Practical Advice and Self Care
But the best preparation is sharing what you yourself have learnt through (often hard) experience. Don’t hesitate to teach your daughter about the practical details of dealing with menstruation. For instance that a period lasts several days, that some days the flow will be heavy and on others light and that she may also experience pain on some days. Without making a big deal, stress the importance of changing her pads several times during the day and checking that her clothes are not getting soiled. Or using more absorbent pads while playing games or doing exercises. These points may seem obvious after several years of experience. But life will be much easier for your daughter if you prepare her beforehand.
The months before her first period are also a good time for your daughter to develop good grooming habits like using deodorant, taking daily showers and shampooing and brushing her hair properly. She can also begin to use the washing machine and take care of her clothes. By starting these habits early on, she will be saved the embarrassment of body odor, oily dandruff and stained clothing. This is also the time for her to get in the habit of doing regular exercise. Last but not least encouraging her to replace junk food with healthy snacks will help avoid or reduce PMS and weight gain that often accompanies the onset of puberty.
Another thing they may need ---and this they may hesitate to ask for ---is reassurance that they are still loved in the same way. As if the physical changes are not enough, young girls now suffer a flux of changing emotions. Again reading a few relevant books together will help both of you to understand yourself better and deal with your new feelings.
Studying Hard is Mandatory
Periods or no periods, parents must be very clear on one point: girls must continue to work hard at school. Being strict about schoolwork can actually help girls feel more secure; they seem to think that their parents will not change their feelings about them once they start their periods.
Preparing for her first period can be an exciting time for your daughter. By preparing her well, you will be helping her to become a proud and confident young woman; a young woman who will now consider you as a mentor and a friend.