How to prepare:
- Have an open discussion
- Show pictures and diagrams
- Answer all her questions
- Go shopping for supplies and chocolate
- Make a period kit together
- Have a celebration
With three girls in our home, topics like menstrual cycles, puberty, hormones, cramps, etc. seem to make their way into conversations often. And, without exception, each of our daughter’s first period has been something they’ve looked forward to.
For a mom (or dad) this stage of life does not have to be scary for everyone involved. In fact, with a little forethought, you can learn how to prepare for your daughter’s first period so it can be a memorable experience. In a good way. 😉
All it takes is a bit of ground work before puberty hits (but it’s ok if your daughter’s period caught you by surprise) and lots of love and some shopping, too.
But first, lets go over some of the more common signs of puberty as this is something most parents of adolescent girls will wonder at some point.
DISCLAIMER: I have no medical background, just a mom of three girls.
If you have any questions beyond these general guidelines, please consult am obstetrician/gynecologist or your daughter’s pediatrician.
Common Signs of Puberty
- Breast development (aka breast buds) is one of the more noticeable signs of puberty for girls. On average, a child will start her cycle within 6 months to a year after development starts.
- Pubic hair and underarm hair will start to grow and darken.
- There might be some vaginal discharge in her underwear.
- Other symptoms might include cramps, mood swings and changes to body weight and/or height.
How to Prepare for Daughter’s First Period
Now that you know a few of the things to look for, let’s go over some of the things you can start now before your daughter’s menstrual cycle begins.
Have an open discussion
In our house, no topic is off limits. We want our girls to feel they can come to us about anything. And they have. And we love the open dialogue.
But I didn’t want periods to be something we only talked about once they were old enough to have one. I wanted it to feel natural to them before they experienced their first symptoms, so from a young age they knew what a sanitary pad and panty liner were and the basics of why they’re needed.
Somewhere along the way they equated menstruation with being a young woman and they couldn’t wait to get their own period. In fact, it’s such a celebrated thing in our house that when one of our oldest daughters got hers, our youngest child clapped and cheered for her. It was so cute!
Helping your little girl transition into this new stage of firsts (hello, mood swings!) starts with being open and natural about her body and the changes she is going through. And starting bits of that conversation early on makes a difference.
Then when when your child is nearing the end of grade school, sit down with her and talk about the particulars of a menstrual cycle, PMS symptoms, and period products, etc. This will really help demystify the change and prepare your daughter in the best way possible.
Talking Points to Consider
- Explain what a menstrual cycle is.
- Explain why having a period is necessary.
- Go over symptoms/changes to expect.
- Bring up what might accompany menstruation (period pain, breast tenderness, cramps, etc.) and how to manage them
- Talk about what an obstetrician/gynecologists are.
- Go over the various options available and which period product(s) are best for her at this stage.
Show pictures or diagrams
I found this to be so helpful in trying to explain things to our own daughters. You have to remember, most young girls barely know anatomy and they probably have no clue about internal organs.
Having pictures to make sense of your words will go a long way towards concreting everything in your daughter’s mind and even though she won’t be an expert on the topic, things will be much clearer than before.
When my mom had this talk with me, she was pregnant with my baby sister so I got to see pictures of a growing baby in the diagrams and I thought it was the neatest thing. It really connected the dots for me, even at that age.
I’m not saying you need to go into that much detail, you know your child best and how much explanation she might need.
Answer all her questions
Naturally, there are going to be questions. Probably lots of them, depending on how much she does or doesn’t know beforehand.
But answering them is so important. Use your judgement as her parent as to how much to tell her, but I find just being open has served my husband and I well.
Sadly, I have known several women over the years who never had a period talk with their moms and had to figure things out on their own or learn what they could from friends. Which often put them in embarrassing situations.
And their moms missed out on an incredible bonding time with their daughter which I’m sure just set a precedent for other topics left off the table later in life.
I know it might be uncomfortable talking about subjects like this one, especially if you did not have a mom who was open with you, but do the hard thing, I promise, it’s worth it.
And starting when they are young is great practice for open communication for both you and your daughter.
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Go shopping for supplies and chocolate
My husband is an amazing daddy who wanted to help make this life transition as seamless as possible for our daughters so he offered to take them out to shop for their first package of pads and chocolate when the time came.
I wasn’t sure how the girls would feel about going with their dad on such a sensitive shopping trip but he made it so special that after the first one came home talking about how much she loved it, the other girls couldn’t wait for their turn.
It became something they looked forward to and he did not disappoint. They felt so special because their daddy made it special.
I can’t emphasize this enough! If your husband is willing, have him be a part of this transition in the only way he really can.
A period is a natural part of a young woman’s life and she should never feel ashamed of it. Dads can help with this in a way us moms can’t. Having Dad make a big deal of this event throws awkwardness out the window and helps your daughter feel accepted and special.
If her dad is not in her life, then have a girl’s day out and make it a wonderful time that the pair of you will love and cherish.
- Panty Liners These are great for extra protection while she’s waiting for her period to start as well as to stay fresh as her vaginal discharge increases.
- Sanitary Pads These are for her heavier days when a panty liner isn’t thick enough. There are different kinds, some for everyday wear, some for heavier flow, and some for better protection at night.
- Tampons Not all girls will want to use tampons and that’s totally ok! But some do not like the bulkiness of pads and this is a good alternative.
- Period Panties Eliminate the fear and embarrassment of bleeding through your pad by wearing period underwear that is made to absorb menstrual flow.
- Menstrual Cup This is a great option if you want to save money on pads/liners and want to use something more sustainable. Plus, using one keeps you feeling (and smelling!) fresh.
Make a period kit together
I go into how to make a period kit in this post, but it’s essentially a small bag that your child can take with her to school (or anywhere) that has all the essentials should her period start unexpectedly.
It’s also an excellent way to remove unnecessary anxiety and help your daughter feel prepared and confident throughout her busy day.
And it’s not just for young girls, period packs are great to have in the car, your gym bag, at work, etc. So Mom, the two of you can make a day of it and buy all the supplies together then head out to lunch or for a mini spa day before going home to put your kits together.
Something special like that will go a long way towards making an uncertain time in a young girl’s life something memorable. And it’ll be a bonding time she will cherish.
Have a Celebration
Period Parties, otherwise known as First Moon Parties, are rising in popularity. Yes, period parties are a real thing.
We did not have one for any of our girls because frankly they enjoyed their date out with daddy and that seemed enough.
But for some parents, they want to take things to the next level in an effort to further encourage their daughters to celebrate being a woman. To help stifle the stigma around this time in their lives and to encourage acceptance.
This is not a new idea as many cultures celebrate their young girls when they have their first periods.
You can go all out with a party, invitations, guests, etc. or have something simple like a special dinner with family. (And gifting her a Period Survival Kit is a must!) Of course, this would depend on your daughter and her comfort level.
Whatever you decide, please don’t let this event go unacknowledged. Even the shyest girls need that extra attention from the people who matter most to her and have the biggest influence on how she views herself and these new changes.
Your daughter getting her first period can be such a great moment in her life with just a little preparation and lots of love and attention. Remember, most little girls want to be just like their moms and getting her period is one step towards that goal.
As parents, we get the honor to help make this experience a wonderful occasion and a beautiful time of bonding.
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.