An Introduction to Puberty I: How Does the Body Change?

Growing up may be scary, but watching your child grow up might just be scarier. Worry not! We’re here with a guide to help you tackle the most obvious part of puberty: the physical changes.

The most noticeable changes are the widening of the hips and the growth of breasts. This is going to be associated with feelings of insecurity or discomfort, and at this time, discussing and reassuring your child of these changes is necessary. They must know what they are going through before they can feel comfortable with it. The growth of hair accompanies the changes in physique — as uncomfortable as it may be, talking about the growth of pubic and armpit hair is important. Having your child know these changes are normal and occur in everybody will put them at ease. Knowing the purpose of this hair growth — which is to protect the body from unwanted infections, irritation, or injury — will alleviate some of the anxiety around these changes. Remember, making sense of these developments will help them understand, thus accept, these developments better. 

If the need arises, however, there are methods of hair removal like waxing, shaving, or creams (as well as others) which they can consider, after doing research to see what suits them best. 

Your child may worry about stretch marks or cellulite appearing on their skin — though most of us don’t know it, this is a natural part of puberty. It is a sign that the body is growing. Other physical markers like acne, pimples, or break-outs of skin may also arise; these are caused by the fluctuating hormones of the teenage body, which are also the cause for mood swings. Your child’s hormones will be especially imbalanced during their period.

But wait! How do you tackle explaining what a period is to your child?

Here’s an easy explanation my mother used:

A period is a cycle where an unfertilised egg and the uterus lining are shed from the uterus. To break this down, let’s say that every month or so, the body prepares the uterus for a baby. The walls of the uterus get all dressed up to make a comfortable bed for the baby, but when the baby does not come, the bedding must be removed. The uterus sheds it anywhere between three to seven days in the form of blood being discharged from the vagina. This cycle is associated with cramps, pain in the breast area, mood swings, break-outs, bloating — all of which your child may experience before and/or after their period, as well.

Shopping will also be an uncomfortable and awkward affair — however, you can power through it! It is absolutely necessary. Your child will need menstrual products and extra underwear. They will need bras, depending on their growth, which can be trainer bras or sports bras to start with, then moving on to hooked bras and padded bras.

Here is another tricky area: comparisons. You must make sure your child understands that everyone grows at their own pace. Some may take months, some may take years — remind them, the pace their body sets is the perfect pace for them.

Having these conversations with your child are crucial. They are less likely to be scared and insecure about this phase, and with reassurance they will experience puberty as simply another part of life instead of dreading it. We are sure that, as parents, you wish to ensure that your child does not feel lost or afraid during this natural process. May your journey forward be smooth-sailing.

Until next week,

Samara from the REDefine Team

Featured artwork by Anaanya Poddar

Author: The REDefine Campaign

A group of students trying to spread the message and bring out of the shell the taboo topics of Menstrual and Sexual Health. The REDefine Campaign is a campaign devoted to helping the population of India understand the key parts of female's life that is known as puberty. This blog is designed to show our progress, reports as well as learnings and new experiences along our journey. We hope that one day this world that we live in will willingly and openly not only talk, but give advice and spread awareness of the bodily cycle that is puberty. We do hope that you learn something along with us, and please spread the word. For any questions please do not be afraid to comment and/or email us. Come along with us on our journey!

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