Picture this, your daughter is at school. She comes back home anxious and panicking. You ask her what happened, and she tells you that her clothes are stained and she is bleeding. You know it’s nothing to worry about; she had her first period. But your daughter doesn’t know it because no one told her about this before. No one told her that girls bleed. It’s painful and while everything is happening, she is experiencing constant mood swings, nausea and body pain. It’s natural and it’s part of a bigger picture, i.e. reproduction.
She wasn’t ready when she should have been. So, if you don’t want this to happen, you might as well tell your daughter about menstruation. Why? To avoid last-minute shock, separate fact from fiction (thanks to the myths surrounding menstruation) and for you to avoid the regret of not being there, of not being the one to tell her about this, of seeing somebody else guiding her through when it should have been you.
But we get it. Talking your daughter through can be awkward. You may not know how to start. You may not know how to handle your daughter’s reaction. We understand. So, here’s a guide that can help you through it.
When to tell: What is the right age to tell your daughter about periods?
Certainly, it’s not when she is five. It’s certainly not when she is 20. The right age to tell her is when she is around 10 years. Because 13-14 years is the age when girls usually get their first period. Girls may get it earlier or later, it’s different for everybody.
How to tell: Tips to start the conversation
A crowded place or when your daughter is occupied with something is the worst possible moment to talk to your daughter about periods. Instead, take her out on a walk.
A good way to start the conversation is to ask her if she has observed some changes in her body recently. If she answers in the negative, you can tell her she will observe some changes. This may include the development of breast buds, pubic hair and a lot more. This is where you start.
What to tell: What are periods and why do they happen? (Part 1)
As a parent, you would know the basics, but there can still be some things that you wouldn’t know. So, let’s cover it all.
Periods are your body’s indication that it is now capable of reproduction. When you get your period, it’s a sign that you have entered puberty. Puberty is the phase of your life when you transition from a girl to a young woman. This transition is marked by several changes in the body.
You may have hair growing under your arms. You may also develop hair around your pubic area. Breasts begin to develop too. These signs indicate that you may have your first period any day now.
Nevertheless, periods occur when the process of reproduction is failed. A woman’s body produces eggs that need to be fertilised by sperm for a successful pregnancy. To prepare for pregnancy, the walls of the uterus thicken. When the fertilisation doesn’t happen, the lining breaks down and is pushed out of the vagina. Hence, bleeding is caused and you have your period.
What to tell? The supplies, and everything else she might need (Part 2)
After you have told your daughter why periods happen, it’s time to tell her what she has to do when she gets her first period.
First things first, she has to stay calm. It’s a part of life that she needs to accept and need to come to terms with.
Secondly, she must have the supplies ready. These include sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, tampons, and menstrual discs, to name a few.
Apart from that, if your daughter is experiencing severe cramps, a heat bag and some doctor-prescribed medicines will also help.
It’s only natural for your daughter to have questions. So, make her comfortable enough to ask you questions. And you be ready to answer them patiently. You also take the help of a gynaecologist if you feel the need.
A girl’s first period, also called menarche, is a crucial moment in her life. Hence, preparing your daughter for her first period is an important step in her journey to womanhood. By open communication, providing information, and creating a supportive environment, you can help her navigate this natural milestone with confidence and grace. Remember that each girl’s experience is unique, so it’s crucial to be attentive to her individual needs and concerns. As you guide her through this transition, you’re not only helping her be prepared for her first period but also nurturing a lifelong relationship built on trust, care, and understanding. This moment is just one of many in her life, and with your guidance, she can approach it with resilience and a sense of empowerment.