Talking to your daughter about her period can be a great bonding experience as you show her the ropes of becoming a woman. However, for many women, it can be awkward or embarrassing. If you don't know exactly how to explain things, the conversation can be more awkward. As a mom, you want to be able to answer any questions your daughter has, address her fears, clear up misconceptions and help her feel comfortable about all the changes she's about to experience.
If your daughter approaches you, be prepared. Depending on her age, you may need to approach her and open the discussion yourself. Most girls get their period around age 13, although it can come before or after, so you'll want to start getting ready to have this discussion as soon as she hits the double digits.
How to Prepare For This Discussion
Make it special - Telling your daughter about how her body works doesn't have to be a business-like clinical discussion filled with charts and facts. Take the time to make the experience fun and memorable. Take her out to dinner, or for a "girl's day" out. Find a place that's comfortable for talking openly or let her choose where she'd like to go. Take as much time as needed to have a great conversation and definitely order dessert.
Be realistic, not graphic - Don't shy away from using real terms when describing what will take place during the menstruation cycle. Using slang terms or dancing around the difficult or uncomfortable aspects of anatomy won't do your daughter any favors. She's becoming a woman and she should know how to think like one. However, you don't need to be graphic or over-share gruesome details at this point. Save the more mature topics for future conversations.
Stay positive - It's true that there are plenty of aspects about a woman's menstrual cycle that are unpleasant, but your daughter's perspective will be shaped by yours. Yes, cramps and bloating and gas, among other things, are annoying and realistic parts of what will happen. However, teach your daughter how to manage these issues, rather than be overwhelmed by them. Let her see the beauty of becoming a woman rather than the hassles of handling the responsibilities.
Q&A - While you're talking, make sure to stop and ask if she has any questions. When the conversation is over, allow Q&A time. Tell your daughter that no question is out of bounds. Your daughter needs to know that nothing she comes up with will shock or disappoint you. Don't overreact if she asks something you didn't realize she'd been exposed to. It's important that she feels comfortable enough to tell you anything and to ask tough questions.
Resources - You can bring pamphlets or books to the discussion or find things for your daughter to read, but these days, everyone is online - especially your daughter! There are some great online resources you can show your daughter, where she can explore things further on her own time. The site KidsHealth.org has some helpful information, and the American Girl Company has books designed specifically for teen/tween girls' health issues which are available in most bookstores.
Keep an ongoing dialogue - One conversation may not be enough to talk about everything. Don't try to cram too much information into one session. As you're talking, gauge your daughter's response and tailor what you say, and how much you say, to how she's responding. Some girls will take it all in, while others will need some time to absorb what they're hearing. It's a lot of life-changing information, after all!
Swag Bag - Let your daughter look at, hold, and experiment with some products that she will probably need when her menstrual cycle arrives. Create a little gift bag with a great, informative book, a toiletries case with a few samples of tampons and pads, and some cute items like a new bra and panties to make it special.