What should go into a period kit for your daughter is an important question. But an even more important question is when should you give a period kit to your daughter, and have that conversation?
Most girls get their first period between the ages of 10 and 14. On average females will menstruate for 3,500 days during their lifetime. They’ll have their period 450 times (this is up from 50 times in prehistoric times!).
Whilst many parents may feel uncomfortable talking about menstruation with their daughters, it’s so important that they are prepared, informed and unafraid when their period first arrives. By starting the conversation early, keeping it positive and emphasising that it’s a very normal part of growing up, we are giving our daughters the best possible start to their menstruation journey.
Being unprepared for periods and the fear of leaking or spotting are often sources of anxiety for many tween and teen girls. These girls have enough to worry about – school, social media, changing friendship groups, their changing bodies, boys… the list goes on. Getting their period doesn’t have to be another source of stress.
When parents delay having ‘the conversation’ with their daughters, these girls will often find out about periods from friends, classmates, teachers or when they discover blood when going to the toilet one day. It doesn’t have to be like this!
There are many different ways you could approach educating your daughter about what’s to come. It could be a casual conversation prompted by a question, seeing an advertisement, or when you are purchasing period protection products for yourself. It could be a conversation had over a cup of tea at home or a cafe, or whilst on a morning out. It could be started off with the gifting of the period kit. Or you may want to build the period kit together, with your daughter by browsing the Modibodi website and choosing which products she’d like, finding a bag she likes, deciding which book she thinks will be right for her (see below for some great suggestions). Once you’ve started the discussion, it may be something you or she returns to a few days or weeks later, once she’s had a chance to think about everything you’ve discussed.
If your daughter is informed, sees periods as a normal part of being a girl and growing up and knows she can approach you with any questions she has or help she’ll need she’s in a great place!
Questions your daughter may ask
How long do periods last?
Most girls’ periods last for around 5 days. Some may have periods for just 2 days, or up to 7 days.
How often will it come?
In the beginning it may not come regularly. But, 2 – 3 years after her first period, it should be coming more regularly, approximately once every 4 – 5 weeks. The time from day 1 of her period to the last day before her next period arrives is called a ‘cycle’. Cycles should be around 4 – 5 weeks but could be anywhere from 3 – 6 weeks.
How much blood comes out?
Whilst it may look a lot more, the amount of blood loss for an entire regular period is just 30 – 70ml. That’s the equivalent of just a quarter to a third of a cup. The rest is made up of sweat and other bodily fluids.
The flow (the amount of blood that comes out) can be described as light, medium, heavy or very heavy, and can vary over the course of her period. Some days could be light, and others medium or heavy. Understanding her flow will help her choose the products best for her, and also guide her on how often she should be changing them.
How often will I need to change?
If wearing Modibodi underwear she may only need one pair for the day, and one pair for the evening (depending on whether her flow is light, medium or heavy). If using pads or tampons, she will need to change them 3 – 6 times a day. She should never use a tampon overnight.
What is PMS?
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. Hormone levels will rise and fall during a girl’s cycle, and it can affect the way she feels, both physically and emotionally. She may feel upset, angry, anxious or tired in the lead-up to, or during her period. Some may crave certain foods. Some will experience cramping, pain or discomfort.
Will I ever stop having periods?
Most women will reach menopause between the ages of 45-55. This is when their periods will permanently stop. When pregnant, women won’t get their periods.
Don't forget about the boys
It’s also important to talk to your sons about periods. Their sisters, female cousins, friends and classmates will be going through big changes and it will help if your son can be understanding of what she is going through.
What to include in your daughter’s period kit:
- A book on puberty that your daughter can read on her own, or you can read together. There are some great books available, including What’s Happening To Me? (available at Bookworm); Puberty, Periods and All That Stuff! Girls Only!: How Will I Change?; Girl Stuff for girls aged 8-12; Girl Puberty, How to Talk About Puberty and Sex with your Tween Girl; and Let’s Talk About Sex (all available at bookdepository.com)
- A small plastic bag to put the used underwear
- Modibodi underwear – a pair of Modibodi underwear will provide your daughter comfortable protection for the next several hours – without having to use a pad or a tampon.
- A waterproof bag that can fit in your daughter’s backpack/school locker/sports bag. Small enough to be discreet, big enough to fit in everything she’ll need to remain comfortable and relaxed. Make sure it’s something that she is going to like, otherwise she won’t use it!
- A small pack of wipes, so she can clean her hands (if she can’t access a bathroom).
- Pain relief– more on this below
- A small calendar with stickers so she can start to track her calendar and in time have an idea of when her next period will arrive OR download a period tracker app on a mobile device. There are several free ones to choose from including Flo Period & Ovulation; Period Diary; Period Tracker.
- If using pads a small selection of teen-sized pads. Open one of two with your daughter, so she can see what they are made of and understand how they work – and that the adhesive side goes on the underwear, not her!
Not only will this period kit be a lifesaver for your daughter for all the times her period arrives when not at home (which is likely to be often), your daughter could also help a friend in need who isn’t prepared.
Unfortunately the arrival of periods can also mean the onset of painful cramping for many girls. Cramps occur when the uterus (which is a muscle) is squeezing to release the endometrial lining (that makes up your period) and this muscle can then start to cramp. Natural treatments include exercise, taking a warm bath, or using a heating pad/hot water bottle. These treatments won’t always be available or accessible (or effective). Pain medication such as ibuprofen is available (without prescription), and you may want to include some in your daughter’s period kit. This decision will be made by you and take into account things such as her age, experience with medication and the school policy. If including the medication in the kit, your daughter should know to seek permission from a parent before taking the medication and she must know the recommended dose and guidelines.
Why include a pair of Modibodi underwear in the period kit instead of or as well as pads?
In recent times women have relied on pads and, to a lesser extent tampons, when menstruating. Yet pads are terrible for the environment, are often uncomfortable and not always effective. They are full of plastic (90% to be exact), and contain cotton – considered to be the world’s “thirstiest crop”. Most pads contain non-organic cotton, which has been saturated in pesticides and insecticides, and polyethylene plastic (the adhesive that’s used to make the pad stick to your underwear). Polyethylene plastic is an environmentally harmful pollutant. While the products sit in landfills, these chemicals get soaked up by the earth and are released as pollution into groundwater and air. In case you are wondering how long pads will sit in landfill before decomposing, it’s more than 500 years. So the 17,000 pads the average woman will use during her lifetime will outlive her great-grandchild and beyond.
Modibodi period proof underwear look just like normal underwear and can be worn all day with no leaks. It is reusable and contains a built-in absorbent layer in the gusset which is leak-proof and odour resistant. It won’t clog up your washing machine, it won’t make your washing machine smell and the load of washing won’t come out blood-soaked! After wearing the underwear you simply rinse in cold water till the water runs clear (approximately 20 seconds). Then place it in the wash on a delicate cycle (in a delicates bag if possible) with your other delicates. Hang out to dry. Re-wear!