What are the healthier and more environmentally friendly options for when my child starts their period?
Although it may be easy to pick up pads and tampons in the supermarket you have a choice about what you use every month. You have a choice to use products that are convenient and cheap or make the choice to purchase and use hat is good for both your body and for the environment.
In my experience as women’s health advocate and sexuality educator many women do not have a very clear understanding about their menstrual cycle. They also have very limited knowledge about what is many menstrual health products or the possible impact on their health or the environment.
Now the question is how can a woman that is old enough to have a daughter that is starting her periods, that doesn’t know much about them or the products we use going to educate her daughter about all of that.
Is school going to? No
Her friends? Maybe if she is lucky enough to have a friend who is in a family where this knowledge exists and is shared.
The internet? Most likely but not all sites contain accurate and unbiased information. Yes, I am saying there are sites on the internet that take payment for recommendations and who sole purpose is to promote the sale of a specific product.
(Yes I do realise I am writing to the specific product sold on this site, however I also acknowledge that the supermarket products serve a purpose and that is OK. I just hope the knowledge on this site helps increase health literacy about menstrual health even if people cannot purchase the products.)
If you do have a daughter who is old enough to be starting or has started her period it is very empowering to prepare a simple period starter kit (hopefully one that is environmentally friendly) and to have positive conversations in the lead up to puberty. When you have the kit and talk about it and the experience of puberty, what to expect and what it means you can turn what is scary for many into a positive experience.
I know it is scary to have those talks, I am a mother of a daughter. I have endometriosis and there was a time when it was severe – including multiple surgeries. My daughter grew up watching me go through what can only be described as a bloody, painful and nauseated hell. Not only did she hate talking about puberty, sex etc but she was also scared because what she knew of periods was far from what you see on the TV adds. I can happily report that through repeated gentle discussions sometimes only touching on the subject, other times answering deeper questions - I am happy to report that my daughter is now period positive and taking the lead on the menstrual health side of Bliss for Women. So much so that she is the mastermind behind the choice of products and the First Period Kit
I love the example that Vanessa Hamiltona Sexuality Educator from Melbourne gives as the benefit of quality sexuality education for all students including period positive education for male bodied students.
“A girl stood up from her seat and one of the boys in class noticed some blood on the back of her dress. He quietly went over and told the teacher and then went to his bag to get a jumper for her. Between them, the boy and the teacher managed to let her know to sit back down again while the teacher got the kids outside to play a game and use the jumper for her to put around her waist while she went to the first aid room.”
How fantastic is that? What a wonderful outcome for all concerned and as a parent wouldn’t you be proud of your son for being so mature and kind?
How you can help make your child’s experience of menstruation a positive one
Our First Period Kitsare made up of;
· Reusable or organic pads
· Period pants
· Dark chocolate
· Information booklet
· And a whole bunch of other treats
· You can personalise a message that will be included on a card for your child. It could be that you love them or you can that you are proud of them that you are there for them and that having a period means that your body is healthy and doing exactly what it is designed to do.
Once you have purchased the kityou can take what your child will need to have in her school bag even before her periods start.
The most important thing you can do for your child as they are getting to the age when their body is changing is to have ongoing POSITIVE conversations about those changes and sexuality. You may only get a few sentences out when you first start but creating that safe space and having the ongoing conversations means you give your child permission to talk about it and they know you are holding space for them to discuss it when they are ready without judgement or shame.
It can be scary as a parent to have these conversations or even to think about these changes happening in your child’s life.
· Acknowledge that you have history in your own journey through puberty and sexual experiences. Acknowledge them and then take them out of the conversation with your child because this is NOT where they are up to in their life. They need simple messages, your history can create a negative layer that they do not need.
· Get educated, if you don’t believe that you have adequate sex education to be able to give your child the information you wish that you had ask your school if they can run any quality sexuality education classes for parents to compliment what your child has got at school. Or do your own research through sites such as Talk the Talk.
· It can be hard to think of your child as growing up in this way. Try to change your mind set and think of their journey to adulthood as a positive one where she is informed and empowered.
· Periods are nothing to be ashamed, without them the human race would not exist. That can be a very empowering idea and one that does not occur to many people no matter their gender.
· Work out how you can incorporate those kinds of messages into the conversations you have with your child.
· Remember it is not one big talk when your child starts their period it is a series of small ongoing conversations across their life that empower and educate them.
Vanessa Hamilton from Talk the Talk sex ed recommends the following resources;
· A range of free tips and advice here
· Enjoy this story of a parent explaining periods to a 6 year old
You can choose to have a positive impact on your health by choosing reusable or organic menstrual health products. You can choose to have a positive impact on the environment by using reusable menstrual products like cloth pads, menstrual cups and period underwear that are available in our shop. You can also choose the same for your child has they start their menstrual cycle. They are more comfortable, cost effective and environmentally responsible choice.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions.