Spring is in the air, and it appears new growth and change isn’t only happening at an increasing rate out in nature right now.
For many of my friends’ daughters, things are also changing, and I’ve been receiving multiple private messages asking for guidance around the topic of swim team and your daughter’s first period.
What I know from personal experience is that your level of comfort around this topic will help determine your daughter’s level of comfort.
If your daughter is prepared for Aunt Flo’s arrival and you are comfortable talking to her about it, then this transition isn’t a big deal.
So making sure your daughter understands what is going to happen and what her options are BEFORE the main event takes place is super helpful.
Then you bypass the OH MY GOD I’M BLEEDING AND I’M GOING TO DIE situation when your daughter gets her period for the first time.
Talking to her about how you and she are going to handle it before it happens is helpful.
When the big day actually arrives, you basically have two options.
Option 1: Start using tampons.
The majority of girls on the swim team learn how to use tampons when they get their periods.
For some girls this is no big deal. They can ram a tam up in there with ease right off the bat or after one or two attempts.
Or maybe it takes a handful of tries, but they get the job done with less than ten sacrificial tampons.
For other girls it takes a while. They have significant anxiety over the whole process or they just can’t get it to work initially, and figuring out how to insert a tampon takes a few months. Maybe even years.
This brings me to the next option.
Option 2: Don’t go to practice when you have your period.
Some girls have trouble using tampons. Some families aren’t okay with young girls using tampons. Some religions aren’t okay with girls using tampons.
Your 10/11/12/13/14/15/16-year-old isn’t going to suck at swimming if they miss a couple practices a month.
The most important thing for you to do is to communicate with your daughter’s coach(es).
They have all been down this road before. Female coaches were very likely young swimmers, and they have experienced this personally.
Male coaches have been around the block and understand what is going on.
Let them know how you are going to handle the situation. Let your daughter know it’s okay to talk to her coach(es) should she ever have an unexpected incident at the pool.
I can tell you from personal experience that I have been at practice and noticed a rogue tampon string hanging out of my suit. I have had blood running down my legs while standing on the pool deck.
Yes, it was embarrassing.
But I’m not the only person it’s ever happened to.
This kind of stuff happens every once in a while at swim practice and everyone survives.
And most girls are very understanding and helpful when one of their friends finds themselves in this situation.
There is a third option, but I’ve never seen anyone on a swim team use it…
There are a couple companies out there that make “period” bathing suits. You can wear them in the water and they have some magical technology in them that contains your period.
But… they aren’t the kind of suits that kids wear to swim practice. There are bikini bottom period bathing suits, but if you wore one under your practice suit, it would be like walking on deck with a megaphone and announcing, HEY EVERYONE! I HAVE MY PERIOD!!!
Most young girls don’t want to broadcast that shit to their teammates.
In my experience the most important thing you can do is make sure your daughter knows what the plan is ahead of time.
Talk to her. Make sure she knows it’s not an off-limits or uncomfortable topic.
It’s just part of being a woman.
Prepare a little emergency kit in a Ziploc bag to keep in her swim bag once she gets her period.
Put a couple tampons and/or pads and a spare pair of underpants in it. That way if she ever has a period emergency, she’s prepared. (And she can also help a friend in need out)!
That’s about it!
Your daughter can handle this. And so can you!
It might be a little rocky to navigate this new territory at first.
But your daughter will get the hang of it eventually.
And just as importantly, so will you.