Get all of the info you need to help your daughter and you be prepared for her first period. Know when to expect it and what to expect from it.
Having a period is rarely convenient and even more rarely pleasant. While it is a very normal part of life, it isn’t thrilling.
Some girls might be excited to get a period, especially if they are on older teens, but many are probably at the least nervous and even scared.
There is a lot parents can do to help prep their daughter for her first period. We will talk about when to expect menstruation to start, how to prepare ahead of time, what to expect from periods, what it will be like during the period, and when to be concerned.
Prepared Ahead of Time
You will want to start with talking to your daughter about a period. You don’t want the first time she hears about a period to be the same day she first gets one.
In most instances, if you haven’t told your daughter, she will hear from friends.
As you talk to your daughter about a period, give her all of the info you can. The brain does not handle the unknown well. The more she knows, the less fearful she will be.
The topic doesn’t need to be awkward or embarrassing. It can feel that way, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
Having a period is a very normal thing. If you make it normal and not a big deal, your child won’t make a big deal of it.
Have open dialog about it.
I have three girls. In my own experience, my oldest found it to be super embarrassing at first, but my third girl has seen and heard so much about periods that she doesn’t even think anything of it. It is just life.
So share with your girls when you are having a period, what it is like, why it happens, etc.
Talking about what to expect is helpful. Being physically prepared is also helpful.
Create a period kit to help your tween or teen be physically ready for it to start any time.
We just got a little zipper bag and put pads in it. Then it can stay in the backpack. It is also wise to put a clean pair of underwear in it in case it is needed.
You might also want some pain medication in the kit.
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is a bunch of symptoms that come about 7-10 days before the period comes.
It is good for your daughter to know what the different symptoms can be. Not every symptom will come, and not every symptom will come every time.
Common PMS symptoms include:
- Depression or sadness
- Bloating and weight gain
- Food cravings
- Joint and muscle pain
- Breast tenderness
When To Expect First Period
There is a wide age range for when girls typically get their first period. They can get it as a tween at 10 years old or all the way to teen at 15 years old.
Most girls get it at 12 years old.
The first period typically comes about 2 years after the breasts first start to develop. If you note when that happens, you can know when to start watching for that first period.
You will also know it is close when your daughter starts to get vaginal discharge. This will start about 6 months before the first period.
You will also know it is close when PMS enters your daughter’s life.
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What To Expect with Periods
The first period will be light. Typically, the first few periods are a light flow. The bleeding will be red, brown, or even black.
Let your daughter know that it is normal to have some chunks in the blood. They look like clots but are tissue sluffing off.
A typical period lasts about 5-7 days, but that can vary. Again, the first few periods are pretty abnormal from what is typical in general and what will be normal for your daughter specifically.
A period usually happens about every 28-45 days. It is calculated like feeding items for a baby; from the first day of one until the first day of the next.
Initially, you will find the period will likely be every 3-6 weeks. Some even go a few months between at first. It takes 2-3 years for the period to become consistent and predictable.
Help your daughter choose a way to track her period. She might make a little symbol or note in a planner or on a calendar. She might use a tracking app.
Tracking start and end dates can help her find her pattern and be able to start to predict it. This is important so she can be prepared. If you are traveling, you will want to remind her to look at when she should be starting her period so she has what she needs packed for the trip.
What to Expect During the Period
We all know that all females have different experiences during their period. Some will be consistent for themselves while others might change each time.
PMS symptoms can persist during a period. Other symptoms will be cramping, aches, and nausea. Your daughter might also get very fatigued.
Symptoms seem to be more intense in the early periods. Either that or the girls just have little to no coping skills for dealing with the symptoms yet. I have found fatigue, pain, and nausea all to be worse in the first few periods.
It is common to have back pain and leg aches.
A common symptom is cramps. There are things your daughter can do to alleviate cramps. One is to take pain medication, like ibuprofen. She will want to drink plenty of water. A heating pad can help ease the pain. She can also rest on her side with her legs drawn up.
Your daughter will need a way to stop the bleeding from getting everywhere. There are a few options.
A good first step is to use a pad. It is good to change the pad at least every 4-6 hours. You will want to buy pads before your daughter needs them.
Your tween or teen can also use a tampon. Most girls need a bit of time to pass before being willing to try a tampon, so let her do it on her timetable. Younger tweens might want to wait years before trying, while older teens might be willing to try a month or two in.
An alternative to the tampon is the menstrual cup.
Period underwear is absolutely worth it. My girl don’t use it exclusively, but they will use it as they know the period is approaching and they also use it as a handy backup system. It really helps prevent leaks and embarrassing situations.
This is what we have purchased so far and it has worked well.
One of the last things you feel like doing when you start your period is exercising; however, exercise can really help ease pain and cramping.
Note that your daughter might be too exhausted to do an intense workout.
When To Be Concerned
While having a period is normal, unfortunately not everything associated with a period is normal. There are things to watch out for.
If any of the following become true, talk to your daughter’s doctor:
- Your teen is 15 or older and has not started her period
- It has been 3 years or more since her breasts started to develop and she has not gotten her first period
- It has been 2 or more years since she first had a period and her period is not yet regular
- Her period consistently lasts longer than one week
- Her pain during a period interferes with normal life functions
- She has severe cramping and medication does not help
When your daughter gets her first period, it is stark reminder that she is growing up and growing up quickly.
Make sure you talk about a period ahead of time and let her know what to expect. Help her to be mentally and physically prepared. Encourage her to talk to you about any questions she has.