How do you talk to kids about periods?
How do you talk to kids about periods?
Brianna Bell, our guest blogger today, shares her story of switching to cloth pads and how she shared that experience with her daughters.
“Penny, can you get mommy a pad? I got my period,” I say, hoping she can hear me in the next room where she’s colouring.
“Sure!” She calls back. Her little feet pound on the kitchen linoleum, and then I hear her running up the stairs to my stash of cloth pads.
She returns with one heavy pad and one light pad, a triumphant look on her rosy-cheeked face. She passes me both, and then rushes off to return to her colouring.
I don’t think there has been a time that Penny, now almost seven, has not known what a period is. My oldest of three daughters, she was born curious and inquisitive, and I have always been happy to answer the questions she has.
I have made the choice to invite my children into my reproductive health journey, offering age appropriate explanations and honest answers to questions. After years of normalizing my period, each of my children approaches the sight of period blood, pads, and my cycle with nonchalance - it is what it is, they seem to think.
My open approach wasn’t exactly planned in advance. When Penny was around three she walked into the bathroom and found me changing my blood-soaked pad, a moment that was both transformational and startling for us both. The look of fear and confusion on her face confirmed my need to normalize menstruation, even at a young age. I quickly assured her that the blood she was seeing was normal, and explained to her that I had been bleeding for a few days every month, for a long time. She was reassured, and I decided then not to hide my period from her, offering openness and honesty instead.
Throughout the years our conversations have ebbed and flowed. Like any person who gets their period, my life does not revolve around it, and neither do my kids’ lives. But our open dialogue has led to many fruitful conversations, and I’ve watched as my kids’ comfort with my period and its natural processes has developed.
Once my middle daughter, Georgia, asked me why there was so much blood on my pad. I explained that looks were deceiving, and tried my best to find a practical way to explain what she was seeing. I took her to the kitchen and filled a cup with water, and then asked Georgia to drop some red food dye in the cup. Instantly the red dye changed the water to a deep red, and I explained that my period was similar. What might look like a lot of blood was actually water, and a mixture of other compounds to make it look like a lot of blood.
When I switched to cloth pads two years ago I shared with my kids why I was making the switch. We talked about the environment and why disposable pads weren’t a wise choice for the earth, and also that cloth pads were a less expensive option too. We picked out patterns and colours together, and discussed the importance of finding products that work for your body type. When we received our first shipment my kids carefully unwrapped the pads, excited to see the different colours and feel the soft textures. Later I found them laying their toys on the colourful cloth, as if they were sleeping on a comfy bed.
Since I started using cloth pads I have noticed a dramatic shift in the length and severity of my cycle, and I shared my findings with both Penny and Georgia. I’ve let them know that if they choose, they can have their own pad collection once they get their periods. I plan to offer them the freedom of choice, and will educate them on the variety of options available, from menstrual cups, cloth pads, or period underwear.
There are so many ways that open discussion has improved my relationship with my children, and offered them plenty of life lessons already. They’ve seen me comfortably negotiating my period, and have felt confident enough to ask me questions. I’ve been careful to explain that my period journey is not the same as every other person’s journey, and theirs may look different too. Regardless of how their period looks, or feels, they know that I’ll be there to navigate the experience with them.
Just because my kids are young doesn’t mean that don’t have the ability to understand and appreciate the different functions of our bodies. I’ve watched as open dialogue has led to them embracing the concept of menstruation quite easily. It's not something they consider gross or uncomfortable, because it's a natural topic to discuss for them. I feel confident that cultivating a space for judgement-free dialogue will lead us to deeper and richer conversations as they grow. When their time comes, they’ll be equipped with years of spectator experience, and ready to embark on their own reproductive journey.
Curious about the menstrual cup, but you have questions?
Let us help.
It’s the perfect summertime solution to swimming without a tampon - the menstrual cup. Catching up to a full ounce of blood and lasting twelve hours before you need to empty it, the cup allows for long summer days at the beach or camping under the stars. However, it’s one of the products we get the most questions about - and there is a bit of a learning curve when you first try it.
At Lunapads, we are proud to sell the DivaCup, one of the most popular cups out there - and with good reason! I’ve been using one for over a decade, from the Andean mountains to the subways of New York City, and it has never failed me. Don’t be afraid to make the switch - here’s our top tips to help you get cup-savvy in no time.
When you first use your cup, pick an evening where you’ll be at home. Insert your cup and then - just relax. Fold some laundry. Watch some Netflix. If you have any leaks or discomfort, you’ll be at home to deal with it. The next morning, take your cup out in the shower, making any spills a non-issue.
If you’re worried about leaks because you’ve got a heavy flow or just not sure you’ve perfected your insertion strategy, consider picking up a pair of period undies or some liners to catch any extra leaks. A cup shouldn’t leak if used correctly, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
If you’re having persistent leaks, consider that you might have the wrong size of cup. Most come in two sizes. If your cup has started leaking after several years of being a committed cup user, it might be time to size up.
There are many ways to fold and insert a menstrual cup (I’m a fan of the Punch Down Fold, myself). When you’re starting out, experiment with a couple to find the most comfortable option for you. Similarly, you might need to experiment with the most comfortable body position to insert your cup - you might put one foot on the toilet seat or squat down. Don’t forget you can trim the stem of the cup if it is poking you.
Once you’ve got the cup in, don’t forget to spin it. It’s totally painless, and you’ll create a strong seal to ensure that the cup doesn’t leak.
Your cup is too big to travel past your cervix, so it CANNOT get stuck up there. It’s just not possible. Removal problems largely fall into two categories: the cup has ascended in the vaginal canal during wear and now you’re having problems grabbing it, or the seal is refusing to break.
If your cup has travelled upwards on you, bear down like you were having a bowel movement and the cup should move downward. It might be helpful to squat or sit on the toilet. You can then grab the cup and remove it.
If the cup seal is refusing to break, run a finger between your vaginal walls and the outer walls of the cup to disrupt the seal. The cup should then come out easily.
In either case, stay calm. If you’re tense, then it makes removal a lot more difficult.
Allow yourself about three cycles to get into the rhythm of using your cup. It’s a new thing to learn and you need to be patient with yourself. That said, there are some warning signs of a cup that’s just not going to work, including:
Cups do need to be replaced - although they are less likely to be a cause of toxic shock syndrome than tampons, they can eventually break down. We recommend replacing your cup as your manufacturer recommends or at least every couple of years.
If your cup is severely discoloured, sticky, smells bad or develops a powdery texture, it is time to replace it. Otherwise, cups are easy to take care of: boil your cup between cycles and wash it whenever you change it. Take care of your cup, and it will serve you well for a long time.
Here’s the thing about plastic - it’s essential to many aspects of our modern life. Durable, waterproof, and moldable, plastics make possible many advancements in medicine, technology and communication. It’s in everything - from clothes to coffee cups, It also comes with one big problem - it won’t decay.
As long as we’ve had plastics, we’ve been dealing with more and more garbage generated from plastic, and a lot of this garbage is ending up in our oceans. As a biologically inert substance (meaning it doesn’t react chemically with the majority of other substances), it’s impervious to many of the functions that break organic materials down. This means we have landfill waste, harm to animal life, and a large floating island of plastic floating around the Pacific.
Not so ideal.
Even as we’re waking up to the damage caused by our overdependence on plastic, plastic consumption is increasing exponentinally. A search of plastic waste found in the ocean found that the majority of the plastic pulled from our water are proportionally more likely to be from after the year 2000. Plastic may be unavoidable, but we don’t have to make it inevitable. Here’s three simple ways you can make your plastic consumption more sustainable.
Advocate For Recycling Facilities
Tell the communities that you live in that having adequate recycling facilities is important. Although you can head down to city hall, feel free to check in with local businesses and organizations about having recycling facilities. The politics of waste management are real, and too often, not having a blue box is seen as okay. It’s not.
While you’re at it, encourage them to replace single use plastic containers with compostable alternatives, or even better, offer discounts for bringing your own containers.
Ditch Single Use Plastics
One of the major motivators of making the switch to reusable pads is to ditch the single use plastic that comes with pads and tampons. Besides being horrifyingly uncomfortable, plastic menstrual products don’t decompose. Same goes for straws, single-use water bottles and plastic bags.
Spend a little time and money picking up reusable alternatives to these products - like a foldable shopping tote or a reusable coffee cup. Even better - go one step further and organize a clothing swap, source a zero waste grocery store and start composting.
Educate Yourself About Your Products
Feel like you’re drowning in plastic? Don’t purge it all in favour of glass jars and fabric bags. Use up your containers and sustainably dispose of them. Consider how you take care of things - even using cold water washes improve microfiber shedding. Also, feel free to follow up on the environmental claims of new products - we’re improving our manufacturing and supply chain processes all the time, but sometimes it’s not green, it’s just greenwashing.
Lunapads, as a company, is always critiquing our own systems - over the past few years, we’ve increased our use of organic cotton, reduced our carbon footprint by over 60% and moved more of our production to a zero waste model. Making greener choices is a lifetime process - we learn more about how we can improve, and we gain greater access to resources to make it happen.
Plastic might be unavoidable, but it is manageable. Making smarter choices can help you harness plastic’s benefits in a way that is sustainable for our planet.
By far the most common inquiry I get as the customer service rep here at Lunapads is: