Girl Stuff

Smiling mother having a walk with her daughter in a park on a summers dayI believe that girls need to be properly prepared for puberty with information about physical, emotional and hormonal changes.

No doubt many of you parents reading this can relate to being totally uninformed when you first saw some blood and wondered what the heck!! When you approached your mum, she replied, “I’ve been meaning to tell you about this….” Please do not let this happen to your daughter(s)!

Teachers and doctors have shared with me that they have had girls as young as 7 years old having their period. Synthetic hormones in food are apparently largely to blame. Also, excess body weight in young girls plays a huge role. When girls get to 50 kg, their body apparently kicks in to producing the different hormones at different rates etc responsible for menstruation.

I wanted to make sure that I was the one who told my daughter all about it, not through a magazine, not through friends at school, nor through experiencing it without being prepared.

From when Princess was young, we would talk about growing up and different changes that occur in your body, but all age appropriate and all using correct anatomical names for body parts. We never used slang words for body parts, but called them the correct title. I can remember having a chat with princess when she was 8 years old about what she would experience in the coming years, what sex was, how God created us sex for within marriage, etc. I didn’t limit the talks over the years to just about her menstruation but about how we are made and designed by God, healthy sex and why God created it, bodily changes in both males and females etc.

Since then, we have had various talks. The one that most stands out in my mind was earlier this year. We covered just about every thing on this subject that you could possible think of and more. Princess had obviously been thinking about it. Her biggest concern was that it may occur whilst we were overseas when we were staying in primitive surroundings. A possibility that I certainly believed could happen as stress plays a big role and at times when you are stressed, it can influence your hormones. Also, it is usually noted that about 12-18 months after a girl begins ‘budding’ with her breasts starting to develop and starts to wear crop tops is a good predictor of roughly when menstruation is likely to occur.

Princess had many questions and some that I didn’t know the answer to eg “What will it be like to begin with, how heavy or light. How will I know when it is about to happen? etc”. I googled a lot over a few days to try and find the answer to these and any helpful information for Princess but I couldn’t find any really helpful websites that I would recommend.

Every person reacts to new things in their own way. If your child is a very organised person, you may find that she may go into overdrive and type out everything in an orderly fashion. This helps her feel in control over something that is outside of her control. On the other hand, she may appear totally blase about it and forget her supplies when going out when she is having her period. As a parent, my responsibility is to help my daughter navigate this stage in her life with ease. I only get one opportunity going through this stage so I want it to be a positive experience.

A couple of quick pointers when going through this initial stage with your daughter:

  • Chat with your daughter beforehand so that she is aware of what is likely to occur. Use positive language to help her realise that this is a positive experience, not something to be dreaded or negative or a curse.
  • Prepare a purse/small bag with change of underwear, tampons and a pad that she can have handy in her school bag, carry for unexpected times.
  • Buy enough supplies so that she has the products needed before the event. Buy an assortment of supplies – overnight pads, mini pads, mini tampons, etc
  • Realise that tampons may be needed at the beginning, especially if your daughter is swimming or in dance concerts with white leotards etc the time when it first occurs. Thus, prior education about this helps ease the awkwardness at the time.
  • Realise that their flow might be light to begin with but could last longer than you think or vice versa. They are individuals.
  • Realise that they may need some reminding for the first little while re changing and caring for self during this time. They may completely forget their products, forget to change, forget to use a product etc. It is important to realise that you have had a number of years of experience (at least 37 years for me) and it is second nature for you to take your sanitary products, and enough of them, with you when you have your period. Your daughter is not yet wired that way. You need to help her adjust and be a back up for her until it becomes a normal part of her life. It is a major adjustment for her so some extra assistance during this time is helpful.
  • Help your daughter keep a diary of starting dates to see if there is a pattern and when to expect the next period.
  • If your daughter suffered from allergies or intolerances when she was younger and was healed from them, they may reoccur when she is going through puberty. That is quite normal.
  • Try not to embarrass your daughter about it but help her see that it is a time of celebration that she is growing and developing. Share with your husband and have him discreetly acknowledge it with your daughter so that she doesn’t feel she needs to keep it a secret from her dad.
  • Girls can find this time to be quite emotional and have some interesting beliefs and feelings about this so make time to spend some one on one time with your daughter over the first few months to enable her to share her feelings.
  • Chat about hormonal changes and how that can affect your emotions, emphasising that you don’t do moodiness in your household and be proactive in brainstorming ways of managing emotional mood swings.
  • Realise that females hormones sync when they are in close proximity over a period of time and that your daughter & you may start to sync with having perods at the same time within a few months. (We found this true working as a lot of female nurses on a hospital ward, thus why it is great to have some male nurses on your staff!).

Ladies – any other hints would be greatly appreciated. Please let me know!!

One of my blog subscribers has contacted me to let me know that she plans to teach her daughter about the signs of ovulation in her body as this will help her daughter know when her period will start a fortnight later. The ‘Billings Method’ is a great resource in outlining these signs. Be aware though that it can take several years for your daughter’s body to adjust to some kind of regular timing.