One of the hardest parts about puberty for girls is wondering when you may get your first period. Menarche is the term for a female’s first menstrual cycle, and it certainly is a milestone event.
While there are some signs, such as breast buds appearing, vaginal discharge, or a rapid growth spurt, no one can truly know when it will happen. Another clue may be moodiness or irritability.
It’s not uncommon for girls to start menstruating as early as fourth grade and as late as 11th grade, but most girls begin in middle school.
Regardless of age, however, we must prepare our girls to handle it, especially if it happens at school.
How to Prepare Your Daughter for Her First Period
Talking to your daughter about puberty should include creating a plan for what to do if she should get her period at school or outside home. Some girls fear getting their first period when they are away from the comfort and familiarity of their mom.
Many girls get stressed or anxious because of the unpredictability of when they may get their first period.
There are a couple of things you can do for her and with her to make her feel less stressed over the thought of this happening-whether it’s her first period, or you want to help her be prepared for them each month.
What to do if you get your first period at school
Remember the basics
Once you have had the period talk, it should be less of a mystery, which should alleviate some of her fears. Be sure that she understands how to use pads or tampons, who she can go to for help at school (teacher, school nurse, friend who already had her period, etc.), and if or when she should call you.
Try to make sure your daughter knows menstruation is common, and they should feel comfortable talking to any other woman about it. If you have males in your house, talk openly about it around them as well so you reduce the stigma.
Once she gets her period, make sure you continue to educate her by talking about what a normal menstrual cycle looks like, how to manage issues such as PMS, period cramps or stains on clothes or bedding, and the variety of products she can use, such as period panties and other products.
Make a Period Kit
You can help her be prepared by first packing a period kit for her to keep in her locker, purse, or bookbag. Stock a small makeup bag with pads and/or tampons, a small package of sanitary wipes, a backup pair of underwear, and maybe some over-the-counter medicine for headaches or cramps (check with the school rules). If she gets caught without her kit or supplies, or if she has a leak that stains her clothing, the nurse’s office should have everything she needs to get her through until she gets home.
If your daughter is out of school on a field trip or can’t get to the nurse’s office, talk to her about making an “emergency” temporary pad. Use toilet paper and turn it around your hand a good ten times. Keep this thick layer of toilet paper on your panty and take another long piece of it and wrap it around again to fasten it. This could get her through for a few hours until she can get the right supplies.
Take frequent bathroom breaks
While first time periods are not often heavy, it is a good idea to remind her that her pad will still need to be changed every four hours, depending on how heavy her flow is, and to protect her clothing. Explain that good hygiene is important during menstruation to keep her healthy and clean. Encourage her to keep a sweater or hoodie in her backpack or locker in the instance she wants to tie it around her waist in case she leaks through her sanitary napkin.
Have a game plan
What if her flow is heavy, or the cramps unmanageable at school? What if she doesn’t feel well enough to participate in gym? Have a game plan in place for visiting the nurse or calling home.
You also may want to help your daughter develop a few things to say to school staff or a male teacher if they are embarrassed to talk about it. You may want to develop a code that she can text you or say from school so you can know what’s going on with her.
Also, let your daughter know that while she should not feel ashamed about having her period, she does not have to tell anyone. If she changes her clothes or skips gym because of it, she can simply say she spilled something on her pants or has a headache.
Be ready to celebrate
A quick trip for ice cream, a stroll through the bookstore, or a jaunt to the accessory store in the mall for some girl time is a great way to celebrate this major milestone of womanhood. Even a small piece of chocolate can tell her that you get it.
Follow her cues
Some girls can’t wait for this milestone, and others feel nothing but dread. Make sure you adhere to the signals your daughter is exhibiting.
Navigating womanhood can sometimes be overwhelming, but you can be there to help your daughter through the ups and downs. Make sure she knows that she is now part of a sisterhood, and many women go through various emotions and puberty.
Giving the knowledge and the tools to deal with any situation is key to making it less stressful! These tips will help your daughter prepare for what to do if she starts her period at school.