As a mother we have so much to tell our daughters about growing up, about puberty and about PERIODS!
But most of us are also tad apprehensive and uncomfortable how they will perceive it; understand it.
Well, well, stop right there.
They have already been talking about it in the school, bus and among their friends. So, chill!
They are exposed to so much information and also, misinformation. That’s why it is necessary for YOU to talk to your girl about the whole thing.
Before you talk to your daughter,
1. Increase your own knowledge and understanding about the subject. Read online. Watch videos.
2. Talk early and talk often
3. Use images and videos
4. Be straightforward
5. Don’t go in too much of detail
6. Give her time to assimilate
7. Answer all questions
8. Adjust your responses as per her age, level of understating and your child’s maturity
9. Be honest, open and accurate
‘WHEN to tell WHAT?’
Different age brackets call for different information.
There isn’t a set rule as to when to discuss a period with your daughter. In fact, in most cases, children unintentionally open the door.
Your daughter might see you purchase feminine products in the store and ask what you’re buying, or she may walk in on you when you’re changing your pad or tampon.
Don’t be shy – no matter her age.
Start the conversation around 7-8 years.
“You know what! Soon your body will start showing changes. It will become and appear more like me.”
Between 8-10 year, become more specific.
“Inside a girl’s body are parts that help her grow a baby. And if the girl doesn’t get pregnant, the blood flows out of the vagina. ”
“This is perfectly normal, and every woman goes through this.”
Assure her you are not hurt; this is normal.
Pro Tip – If you pay attention to the early signs of your daughter’s puberty, it can help guide your initial talks.
Encourage asking questions; put forward yourself as an example.
“When I was your age….”
“You know when I had my first period….”
This gives her immense assurance that if it happens to her momma, its normal!
Even at age 11-12, if she hasn’t started per period, you can go little further with the extent of explanation.
Tips on Initiating the Conversation
• Make it one-on-one; a casual conversation
– At times young girls feel shy to listen about it in front of their own friends or even sibling sisters.
• Start by asking what she has heard
– Girls around 8-9 yrs already have some idea about mensuration. But usually the information they have is way scarier, half cooked and incorrect. So it is important for you to understand her level of knowledge and correct it where you find it wrong right there.
• Explain Menstrual cycle in simple language
• Avoid complaining about periods or emphasizing its inconvenience
– Do not include drama by saying, ‘oh, yes. Let me warn you, it is gonna hurt.’ Or, ‘Be careful. It can leak and create mess.’
• Show her sanitary pads and other menstrual hygiene products and tell her how to use them
• Tell her what to do if she gets her first period away from home
• Share your own first time & experience
• Validate feelings. Make statement like, “Lots of girls worry about ‘_______’ (pain, mess, leakage etc). How about you?”
• Tell her – every ‘body’ is different. Ask her not compare her period measure with other girls of her class or age.
How to Explain Periods in Simple Words
For 8-9 yr old –
All women undergo some changes in their body every month. As a result of which, some amount of blood comes out from the vagina for 4-5 days. It begins once a girl starts growing rapidly, which is around 10-12 yrs of age.
I have it, your cousin/sister has it, your grand mom had it. Its perfectly normal.
For 10-12 yr old –
There are small, oval organs (ovaries) in your body (below tummy), which release an egg every month or so, and that’s called ovulation. During that time, hormones in your body thickens the internal lining of your uterus (which is a bag-like organ in the lower part of your tummy).
When the egg doesn’t fertilized (which is mostly the case), the lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina in form of bleeding — and that’s a period.
You can specifically use these lines –
“The uterus practices being a grown-up by making a kind of waterbed inside itself that’s made of soft skin and a little bit of blood. Every month, when there isn’t a baby growing in there, the uterus changes the bed, and the old one comes dripping out of the vagina. At that time, you use a sanitary pad to catch those drips.”
For 13-15 yr old –
Every 28 days or so, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This is called ovulation.
At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy by developing a thick layer of blood and tissue inside the uterus.
If ovulation takes place and the egg doesn’t get fertilized, the egg passes out the uterus out of the body, and the lining of the uterus also sheds through the vagina.
This is a period.
Once periods begin, a girl becomes capable of having a baby.
How to Eliminated Fear of Blood?
Blood freaks everyone out. The sight of blood is not a very comfortable situation for many.
Most young girls imagine there is going to be a free-flow of blood, gushing out of their body during their period. Like a tap would open!
Assure her that it’s not like any form of bleeding she has had or seen before. Period blood is the only bleeding that happens not because of any injury or by getting hurt.
Explain to her that,
“Your uterus is about the size of your closed fist, and the lining of your uterus is just the inside of that fist. When you get your period over the course of 4-5 days, that lining of old blood and tissue slowly comes out of your body. Not in one gush, but gradually, slowly. And usually it’s only about 3-5 tablespoons of blood in total, which is just 40-50 ml.”
Showing them a demo by pouring 3-5 tablespoon of water (make it red by adding red color or Roohafza! That will add some fun element😜) in a glass would instantly make her realize that it’s not A LOT!
The best part is, our body automatically makes up for the lost blood every few hours.
12 Things You Must Tell Her!
- Periods happen to all woman
- It’s like a super power
- You will bleed only for 3-7 days
- It will come every 28 days to 35 days
- Only 3-5 tablespoon blood is lost
- It may hurt a bit
- It may get irregular at times
- Be prepared. Always carry a pad irrespective of your dates.
- Maintain hygiene
- Change your pad every 6-7 hrs
- Dispose responsibly
- Turn deaf to myths and taboos
Your Daughter Needs a Visit to a Gynaecologist, If She,
- Hasn’t started menstruating by age 16 OR within three years of the start of breast growth OR breasts haven’t started to grow by age 13
- Goes three months without a period after beginning menstruation
- Has periods that occur more frequently than every 21 days or less frequently than every 45 days
- Has periods that become irregular after having been regular
- Has periods that last more than seven days with copious amount of blood
- Has severe pain during periods
- Is bleeding between periods
- Is bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than one pad or tampon every one to two hours
- Suddenly gets a fever and feels sick after using a tampon
Teach Girls to Have Each Other’s Backs
Tell your daughter all her girlfriends are a big, one team. You all are going to experience periods and you all are going to have mishaps and leakage.
If you see it in someone else, have her back, even someone who’s not a good friend.
Just say, “Hey, follow me to the bathroom”, or hand her a sweatshirt and tell her to tie it around their waist.
Do something you would want someone to do for you.
When will I get my period?
Most girls get their first period between the ages of 11 and 13. Menstruation usually begins about 2 and a half years after the onset of breast development. As another guideline, it’s common for a girl to start menstruating at roughly the same age you did.
How will I come to know I have started my period?
You may not always feel the flow of blood coming out, but can surely feel some dampness in the underwear. You will also find some spots or stain of blood in your underwear. You may also notice a small amount of blood while urinating.
How long does it last?
The length of menstruation varies for everyone. It can range anywhere from 3 to 7 days. First period is likely to be very light, with only a few drops of blood occurring. The amount of blood and length of your period can vary month to month.
Does it Hurt?
The flow of blood does not hurt and most of the time you will not even feel it coming out. There is some amount of pain that may come along with your period, such as abdominal cramps, muscle aches and headaches. There are ways to help alleviate such as anti-spasmodic pain killers and heated pads can help with cramps,
Will anyone know I’m on my period?
If you does not tell anyone, no one will know! If anyone asks you, it is up to her if you wants to let them know.
What if I’m not at home?
Carry around a few pads or tampons, especially when your period becomes more regular and your are expecting to start soon. If you starts your period at school, school nurses and female PE coaches usually keep a stock of pads and tampons for students. You can also ask your friends if they have any. If you starts your period and does not have any menstrual products with you, you can make a temporary product of toilet paper by wrapping some around the middle of your underwear.
What if I stain my clothes?
Stains happen and that is okay! You can wrap a sweater or jacket around your waist to cover up the stain until your are able to change clothing. It is helpful to wear dark clothes when you are on your period to make any accidental stains less noticeable. Do visit the bathroom periodically to check if you needs to change your pad or tampon.