Teaching Preschoolers About Menstruation

Yeah, I couldn’t resist putting this image here.

Warning: If you don’t want to hear about my bodily functions, don’t read this post.

I was able to go a whole 8 months (and change) postpartum of lactation amenorrhea. Not as long as I’d hoped, considering I was following the standards of ecological breastfeeding as much as possible. Still that darn nap stopped me up. Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the horrific stomach bug I was dealing with this weekend taxing my body too much. Or maybe it was the stress of school and children. Or maybe it was the fact that Twig has decided to have a party in the middle of the night multiple times a week for the last few weeks. Who knows, but regardless, I am officially menstruating again. Blah.

So what does this have to do with the blog other than an utter and complete overshare?

This first must start with one of those things no one tells you about parenting in your pre-kid days-you never get to go to the bathroom alone. Sure, there are some parents who somehow manage this because of their own modesty, but my only guess is that they hold it all day until the children are asleep or something along those lines. As a general rule though, no child-free pee-pee time for you!

So given that fact, you can only hid new occurrences in your bathroom habits from the wee ones (haha! wee ones!) for so long. For me, this was about 0.02 seconds, considering Peanut walked in right as I was pulling out the Diva Cup. Maybe it was my large sigh of “Really world? Do I need this right now too?” that pulled her into the room. Regardless, she immediately demanded to know what I was doing with that thing and why.

So, I explained it to her. Of course I could have gone into more detail than I did, but gauging my audience, I went with the most simple and truthful explanation I could think of without advanced notice (considering I figured I still had another half a year before I needed to have this conversation). I told her that women bleed from their vaginas sometimes. I said that it’s what a woman’s body does when they don’t have a baby growing in it. I told her it wouldn’t happen to her until her body was old enough to have babies (Which I realize is a stretch, but biologically you are prepared to carry young in your teens. Trust me, there’s a whole show on tube about it.). Simple. Truthful. Direct. And she was satisfied. Beyond asking me the next day how to pronounce that word again, which say says is men-nu-sation.

We all dread having the talk with our kids, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. By starting to talk about it early on, we’re already having that talk, but not in an awkward way. We’re just talking. Just as she’d ask me why we have toenails or why some people’s eyes are blue, she asks me questions about sex. Why would I answer her any way but truthfully? Sure, I’m not going to go into the intimate details (hardy har har, I did it again) that are too far beyond her comprehension, but she deserves to be given answers. 

When I was pregnant with Twig, Peanut and I had many conversations about how babies are made and how they come out. Considering I planned on Peanut being at the birth (if she wanted to), the latter was necessary. The former, I believe, was a simple statement that mommies and daddies make a baby together. No further questions were asked so it didn’t go any further. We did spend many hours watching birth videos, talking about birth sounds, and talking about birth in general. I will still never forget the moment that she realized she could have babies too. Playing in the tub and talking about birth, she suddenly gasped (no joke!) and said I have gina! I can have babies come out!!! She was thrilled!

Getting back on track, I will continue to answer my daughters’ questions about sex. I will give them answers that are appropriate for their level of comprehension and interest. I will talk about these things frankly and truthfully. I will do all these things with the hope that they will, as adults, understand that sex is healthy and nothing to be ashamed of. Because sex is normal. And yeah, even though it makes me a little uncomfortable to talk about it, menstruation is normal too. Even if I would have liked to go a few more months without it.

How do you talk to your kids about sex? About menstruation? 


6 thoughts on “Teaching Preschoolers About Menstruation

  1. This is so funny! I was actually in the bathroom, BY MYSELF the other day, no baby in my lap and no toddler either, and my HUSBAND came over to ask me why the door was closed! I was like, ‘OMG! Can I please use the toilet in peace!’. Anyway, yeah, I only just stopped bleeding from delivering #2 and I’m nearly 9 weeks post partum… needless to say, my 2 1/2 year old has seen it all. She would even go and get me clean pads after I got out of shower. She knows that woman have vaginas and men have penises and that girls have three holes, one for wee, one for babies, one for poo. She was there at her sister’s birth, she saw it all… she saw the pool get red from blood, she knows all about it! I think it’s perfect to tell them just as it is! Now… she hasn’t exactly asked me where babies come from just yet… but when she does, I’ll tell her exactly how it’s done!

  2. I got a terrible stomach flu when Baby was 8 months old. It was the first night ever that we didn’t cosleep and nurse all night long. She slept with my mom in the living room recliner while I was sick in my room and by morning, my period had started too. I was so sad that one night of not nursing on demand led to periods returning! I had tried to ask my mom to bring the baby to me when she wanted to nurse, but I was so very sick and my mom wanted to take care of me too, so she used breastmilk from the fridge to feed my little one. It was amazing to me that it only took one night without nursing to restart periods. Baby is now 17 months old, still cosleeping, still nursing all night long. She usually sleeps about five or six hours solidly and then nurses every hour or so until we get up. She doesn’t even wake up in the night – she just squirms until I scoop her up and latch her on and we both sleep. Cosleeping is lovely and it makes nursing so easy.

    • Could also be the lack of sleep too. Taking care of yourself (by doing things like getting enough sleep) is a big part of keeping your lactational amenorrhea. Not to say you we’re taking care of yourself. Can’t help being up all night when you’re sick.

  3. My period came back at 11 months after birth for my son, and 10 months after for my twin daughters. I was still breastfeeding ’round the clock for all three, so I’m not sure what the trigger was, but I was happy enough to have such a long break. My son was 3 when I was pregnant with his sisters, and he asked in great detail how they would get out. He knew a lot of details about childbirth, and c-sections. Never once asked how they got it. I did teach him about DNA though (I’m a biologist by training), and at 6, he asked his grandmother how the papa gets his dna to mix with the mama’s…My husband wanted to have that conversation with him, I wish I had heard it, I’m not sure how it went.
    I’m not as fond of the diva cup, so none of my children have seen me using it, but frequently see me with pads on, and often have opinions (the 3 year old girls) about what colour pad I should be wearing. My son has had the whole cycle/period/pregnancy explanation, but my girls are not quite at that stage yet. They just know I need to use pads sometimes. We’ll get there! I use lunapads exclusively, and am irrationally excited about ordering a set for each of my daughters when they get near puberty. 🙂

    • That’s awesome that they want to pick your pad for you! I had a cloth pad that I used postpartum and a cloth liner that I keep in my bag for emergencies, but I’ve just always been more of a tampon sort of girl. I do think it would be easier for young girls to do a cloth pad though, so I’ll definitely be getting some for my girls when the time comes! I can’t believe that in a decade I’ll have teenagers!

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