When I started this blog, I didn’t ever expect to be writing a post about periods, but here we are! The blog space is thriving with mom and baby blogs, anything and everything you need to know about preparing for birth, breastfeeding, sleeping cycles and entertaining toddlers. But as my kids were getting older, there was less information on raising older kids. So I wanted to create this little corner of the web to help parents with the next stage in parenting.
I’m one of those people who really enjoys every age and stage as they come along. I loved babies, but I didn’t miss them too much when they were gone. Toddlers were so much more entertaining! Then the pre-schoolers kept me on my toes with their developing personalities and traits, and before you know it they’re off to school. Now I’m enjoying the 7-12 year old age… old enough to start honing some of the skills they’ll need for living a happy life, like cooking and making friends, but not older enough yet to not want to hear my opinion anymore. I think…
Anyway, turns out a milestone I wasn’t quite prepared for was the first period.
So after a bit of hustle, and a dash to the sewing room, we are all sorted!
Setting the scene early
I had covered the basics early on, and I’m sure school (and my daughter’s school friends) were teaching her a thing or two. It went a little like this…
“All girls and ladies get their periods from about 13, until they are about 50 (give or take!).”
“It happens every month, and lasts about a week.”
“A bit of blood comes out when you’re on the loo – it’s perfectly normal.”
“We’ll talk about it more when it happens.”
Then it happened. And I found myself frantically googling everything I needed to know to tell her.
There’s a lot more information around these days than there was when I was growing up. I’ve been learning all sorts of interesting things this week to make sure I’m passing on what my daughter needs to know, and it’s pretty interesting! So I’ve gathered up the key things I’ve learned to help you tackle this too.
Interesting facts about getting your first period
Although I knew that I had started my own period around 13 years old, and my daughter would likely too, I didn’t know that much about the timing of the first period. But there are some clues along the way!
What age do girls get their first period?
Your daughter is likely to get her period anywhere between 10 and 15, although it can be even earlier than this. The average age that a girl gets her first period is getting slightly earlier, and currently sits around 12 and a half years old. However, it’s not likely to be later than this 10-15 bracket. I read on Medical News Today that 98% of girls will have started their period by the age of 15.
The first sign that might put it on your radar is when your daughter starts developing breasts and body hair. From here, it’s likely to start around 2 years later. So even though every body is different, and the onset of puberty itself can vary hugely between kids, this will be a more accurate marker for your daughter. They might start developing at 8, 10 or 13, but whenever that is, you can expect the first period around two years later.
And once your daughter has started her period, there is only about another two years of growing to be done. The years of all that rapid growth and always needing the next size up in clothing and shoes is almost behind you! She might only grow an extra inch or two now before she reaches her full adult height.
Being prepared for the first period
What supplies do you need?
Making your own first period kit is easy, and then it can be kept in your daughter’s school bag ready to go. The first thing you need is something to manage the bleeding itself:
- sanitary pads,
- period pants, or
- a menstrual cup
I haven’t used a cup before, and I don’t know how suitable they are for a first timer. But if you use one yourself, you might have a better idea. And, of course, you may want to use a combination of these things. The next thing you need is a few things to manage the situation.
- a bag to keep everything together
- spare undies
- small waterproof bags to use for either disposing of sanitary products or keeping used undies in until you get home
- wet wipes
A Mighty Girl has a great post on putting together your own bag and looking at the different bags you could choose from. You can go bright and colourful, trendy, cute or super discreet. Pro tip: a pencil case is a great option if your daughter is worried about it falling out of her bag. Some of these things, like a leak-proof bag might seem costly (when you add it all up!), but you should only need to buy them once and they’ll bring your girl some piece of mind that she can manage everything.
Want to make your own sanitary pads?
I also found this easy to follow tutorial on making your own period pads by Jo at A Rose Tinted World you might like to try. It could be a fun project to do together with your daughter.
Or if you’re not a sewer, Marissa from Becoming Kindred has this amazingly easy and earth-friendly tutorial on how to DIY period pads using old wool sweaters! What a great idea! I’m going to give this a try and see how well they actually do stay in place.
And if you’re not prepared?
Where we live (beautiful New Zealand 🙂 ), we are lucky to have both the schools and the local library now stocking free supplies for anyone who gets caught short. I love it. It honestly, and I’m not even joking, brings tears to my eyes that there is growing support for something like this, that (let’s face it!) can be pretty awful if you’re not prepared.
And in a super emergency, good ol’ toilet paper will tide you over. Fold a length of it up into a makeshift pad until you can get your hands on what you need.
And, of course, being ready for the second, third and fourth period.
Probably the most challenging things about having periods is being caught short.
My best advice for managing periods is to keep a record. I recommend using a period tracker, whether you use an app on your phone or just jot in down in your diary. I think I was probably about 35 before I started following this advice, and I wish I’d done it sooner! You just can’t rely on your own memory of how long it’s been. Some months it can catch you by surprise and some months it can having you reaching for a pregnancy test in a panic. Since I started using a period tracker I have found that despite my feeling that it can vary widely – it actually only varies between 25 and 28 days.
This is such an important milestone – taking the next step from childhood to adulthood. It doesn’t mean your little girl is “all grown up”, but it’s definitely the beginning of the next phase of maturity. I find with both my own children and my nieces and nephew, that for every few steps forward they take, they sometimes like to take one back just to feel that safe familiarity again. So if it is feeling a bit overwhelming for them (or you), maybe do something that has been a family favourite over the last few years.
It’s totally up to you how you want to celebrate it. A special day out, a quiet mum and daughter hot chocolate at your local cafe or just enjoy a raspberry choc smoothie at home in the sun! But do take a moment. Be present for them during this new phase and create a space where they can ask questions. Trust me – they will have some you didn’t think of!