As a mother to a young daughter I am very keen for her to grow up loving herself and that includes her body too.
I am very keen for Emmy to know that we all have lumps and bumps, imperfections and flaws. I bath with the children and shower with the door open, I am happy to walk around naked in front of them and will happily answer their questions. They have seen my C-Section scar, grazes and cuts I have and my unshaven legs – who has time for shaving them all the time?
Now Emmy is at an age where she is beginning to develop, changes are happening to her body and I don’t want anything to be taboo – I want to be an open an honest parent, one she can ask questions and that she knows will tell it as it is without sugar coating it.
I have begun talking to her about some of the changes but thought it would be helpful to make a list of all the bodily changes which occur for girls all the way through to womanhood so we can look back on as she gets older, and so it may help others too.
Breasts and Puberty
The most noticeable changes which our girls will go through, of course all girls are different and there is no ‘normal’ age when these occur. Some will be much younger than others but as a general guide puberty generally starts sometime between 8 and 13 years of age.
The first evidence of puberty is generally breast development or the growth of pubic hair. As breasts start to grow, a girl will have small, firm, sometimes tender lumps (called breast buds) under her nipples. In some cases one breast will start to develop weeks or months before the other – this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about; the breast tissue will get larger and become less firm over the next few years.
This will be followed 1 or 2 years later by a noticeable growth spurt. Her body will begin to build up fat,in certain areas such as breasts and around her hips and thighs. Arms, legs, hands, and feet will also get bigger.
Along with the noticeable physical changes which everyone can see they will also have menstruation to deal with.
Periods – As with other bodily changes, there is no set age for a girl to get these and it is important that you, as a parent sit them down and explain to them what will happen before it does, it can be scary for them but once they know it is normal and every girl gets them the slight of blood for the first time won’t leave them feeling scared.
A good sign they are getting close to starting their first period is vaginal discharge and can happen around 6 months before their first period.
Hormones are an important part of puberty, and they can be the hardest of all changes for both the child and their parents.
Us adults can just about deal with our hormone changes monthly when we know what’s going on but imagine how hard it is for children who aren’t sure why this is happening. Their young bodies are loaded with hormones, which are essential as they are what instruct their bodies to do what they are doing monthly.
This stage can be a tough one for all involved – and sadly can’t be avoided.
With all those hormones racing around it is no wonder your body will sweat more, and teenage sweat if far different to children’s sweat due to those raging hormones.
To combat it we need to teach proper cleaning habits daily. Bathing or showering everyday using mild soap and warm water. Wearing clean clothes each day deodorant or antiperspirant.
Bodily hair & Acne
Unwanted hair for girls isn’t the nicest thing but it happens and can appear on their arms, legs, pubic area, arm pits and even upper lips.
Acne often comes hand in hand with puberty.
Once completely passed puberty and out the otherside, us woman don’t escape from even more bodily changes, what was once called ‘growing up’ is now called ‘aging’.
Muscles become less flexible or tight, gravity takes hold and those once pert breasts need all the scaffolding possible to save them hitting our bellies.
Hair that was once unwanted, now begins to thins, whiten or fall out and those monthly periods lessen through time eventually stopping completely due to the menopause bringing with it hot flashes, and mood swings as declining oestrogen levels affect other bodily functions.
Loss of oestrogen affects vaginal elasticity, urinary continence, flexibility of blood vessels, and the tune-up of all female organs. Vaginal dryness is another unspoken bodily change which can often come hand in hand with the menopause.
I have said previously that I believe no subject should be taboo, which is why I have teamed up with Canesten to help raise awareness of just how common Vaginal dryness can be, and you really shouldn’t be embarrassed by it, in fact, it is experienced by as many as 1 in 3 women.