It may feel like she was just a little girl taking her first steps and saying her first words not so long ago. But if your daughter is around 12 years old, chances are she’ll experience another big first soon. As her body goes through the many changes of adolescence, it is important to let her know you’re there for her and that she can come to you with any questions.
Talking about her very first period may be embarrassing for you both – it is natural. So to help you prepare her, we’ve answered seven of the most frequently asked questions.
1. When is the best time to talk about it?
Most periods begin about two and a half years after breast development and a year after her growth spurt. Girls normally start their period around 12, but this will vary from person to person.
If your daughter feels embarrassed about having a ‘big chat’, it may be useful to split up the conversation into little chunks over time. Pick a day when you’re both alone and approach the topic sensitively. You can even buy books on the subject or pick up a leaflet in advance and leave it with her for a while.
2. Which products will be right for her?
Thankfully sanitary products have come a long way in the last few years. So your daughter has a lot of options and will find something that’s right for her needs and body type. It may be useful to familiarise yourself with what’s out there before bringing up the subject. You can even buy a few samples to leave with her, so she can decide what she’s most comfortable with.
Ultimately, only your daughter can decide what’s best for her. But it’s good to talk her through the options – pads, panty liners and tampons – and ask her about the best product for her day-to-day life and activities. Key things to consider are comfort, convenience, discreetness and the heaviness of her flow.
3. What is the best way to make sure she’s ready?
You could help prepare her for the day by buying a funky toiletry bag she can take with her when she’s out and about. Kit it out with a couple of pads, clean underwear and un-perfumed wet wipes.
4. What will happen when she gets her first period?
Everyone is different, but she may feel more emotional and experience tenderness in her breasts. She may also feel a little vulnerable and confused, and be prone to more spots. You can support her by making sure she knows that everything that happens during this time is natural. Also ensure she knows how to use and dispose of pads, and talk about tampons as an option for the future. You could also take her out for a special meal or manicure.
It’s a good idea to tell her about possible symptoms like cramping beforehand, so she doesn’t get worried. You could help her get more comfortable with a hot water bottle.
5. Will she get PMS?
Women all react differently to the changes in their hormone levels. You could talk to her about possible PMS symptoms beforehand, so that she knows what to expect if they appear. You could help her to manage stress by encouraging healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits. Let her know that you’re there for her – no matter how emotional, sad or anxious she feels – and if the symptoms become too much, it may be good to visit a GP.
6. How long will it take before her periods become regular?
Her period should become regular just after a year. If they continue to be irregular for longer than this, it’s a good idea to visit the GP.
7. How can she keep active and social?
With the right products, she’ll have all the protection she needs to take part in her usual activities. Luckily, most pads and tampons are small enough to carry around discreetly, so no-one has to know it’s that time of the month.
Being active and social may feel like the last thing she wants to do whilst having her period, but as long as she’s not in too much pain, these activities can actually help her to feel better. Exercise could help boost her endorphins and relieve PMS symptoms, and if she’s comfortable with tampons, she can even swim freely.
However you choose to prepare your daughter, make sure she knows getting her period is a normal part of growing up and that she never needs to feel embarrassed or limit her activities in any way. Find special ways to let her know you’re always there for her, whilst giving her her own space to decide which products will be best for her to live her life fully – whatever the time of the month.