Puberty. Awkward as it is, shows itself in multiple ways as your pre-teen grows. Between newly sprouting body hair, mood swings and spotty skin, your little one has quite a lot going on. One of the significant changes for girls is periods and whilst the average age for girls to start in the UK is around 12, it can also happen sooner, even as young as 8. So the more prepared you and she are the more positive the experience will be. We've compiled a list of products to help support girls on their way to managing periods successfully.
Period products: Be prepared
Most of us are familiar with the usual period products you can buy in most shops, but what about the more creative options, which are often environmentally friendly? Here's a starter for what's out there:
The period go-to for so many, sanitary pads or towels are great for when girls are just starting out. There is a huge range out there, from longstanding brands to new eco-friendly options. We like TOTM , a great organic brand that is widely available as well as brands like, Lil-Lets. They offer Teens day, long and night pads are shorter and narrower than other pads so that they're ideal for pre-teens and teens.
They do a handy starter pack too, it also comes with Lil-Let tampons if you want to have a few options in the cupboard.
In future, you might see a twixt article solely on period-proof pants. In my opinion, they are a total game changer. There are a few brands out there and they all promise to do a similar thing - Hold up to two tampons' worth of flow. Mind blown.
We think they're a great idea and brands like, Wuka and Red by ModiBodi are sized for tweens and teens. There are even swim versions from Ruby Love to help with those swimming period blues. (FYI Here's a great article on First Periods by Ruby Love) We'd love to hear more about your experiences with these or other brands!
While so many girls are comfortable using pads or period pants, your daughter might be interested to try tampons. Again, there are tons of brands out there. Some are natural cotton, some are bleached. Lil-Lets are smaller and shaped to fit a tween/teen body. Your daughter may find these easier to start with. Brands like TOTM offer an organic cotton version. Combining pain management with a tampon is the brand, Daye, which adds CBD oil to the tampon to focus pain relief on the area.
If your daughter is eco-conscious, another alternative is the menstrual cup. Washable and reusable, a menstrual cup catches the blood flow by being placed inside the vagina. It's simply rinsed at and re-inserted. The benefits of the menstrual cup include being able to be worn for up to 12 hours. It's also super eco-friendly, with some brands lasting for years. Try Lunette teen cups or TOTM cups for smaller pre-teen friendly sizes.
Period Pain Management
A girl's period can cause discomfort in many ways. Although you can reach for the painkillers (the obvious answer!), there are some options other than paracetamol and ibuprofen that can help.
Heat, in a hot water bottle or heating pad, are comforting on the lower tummy and help get blood flowing, which reduces period cramps. Trying to make good food choices (although those cravings for junk food can be really difficult to manage) can help as well. Try to increase fruit and vegetable intake during your daughter's period to reduce bloating and water retention.
And finally, light exercise like walking and yoga can help promote circulation and that helps blood flow. Exercise can also reduce bloating. Avoid heavy lifting though - this can increase inflammation and blood flow.
Period Tracker Apps
One of the best new bits of tech out there are period tracker apps for your phone. These are basically amazing no matter what age or stage a woman is - they track symptoms, fertility and, for girls just getting to grips with their cycle, they track the days to look out for the start of a period. The main issue with a lot of tracker apps is that they are created for grown women. They talk about sex and fertility in a way that's not really applicable to your 11 year old.
We've found a few that focus on pre-teen and teen period tracking:
There's also a brilliant journal: Girlhood. This printable doubles up as period tracker as well as a way to record how she's thinking and feeling. Period positivity should be celebrated - to read more on The Hood and how they came to be.
Be open for questions
As I write this my 11 year old daughter just came in to tell me she's had a bit of blood in her knickers. I'm not sure it's her period - we've had a few false alarms. Even with 'the talk', the whole period thing still feels a bit strange to her. She's constantly on the lookout for 'signs'.
First periods are a memorable part of most girls' lives. The important thing for me is to be prepared for her first period so I am able to help her answer all of her questions. I plan on being fully equipped with the right kit so we are ready.
We'd love to hear from you if you have found other resources useful for having these conversations of have recommendations for products or apps that your daughter uses, get in touch and tell us about them!
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