Autism, First Period & The Modibodi RED Period Pants

Clearly from the title, this is a blog post all about menstrual cycles. If you are a lady or have a daughter then this is certainly a blog post you’ll want to read. However, if this isn’t your thing (which to be honest why isn’t it, we’re in 2020 for goodness sake?) then there are lots of other blog posts on here that might tickle your fancy.

Anyway, did you know that I have had periods for 17 years? That’s roughly 150 periods already if you take in to account my three pregnancies and the fact I haven’t had a period for over 8 months thanks to my second Mirena coil.

My first ever period happened within the first few weeks of secondary school. I was totally unprepared, we’d had “the talk” at school in Year 6 but other than that I had no idea what to expect. My mum worked full time and so I spent a lot of time before and after school with my Grandparents, who were definitely not in the era of openly talking about periods especially to their 11-year-old granddaughter.

I was at school when my first period started. I remember folding up some tissue into my knickers and heading for the school office. They were less than helpful and didn’t have any products to give me, so they phoned up my Grandad to come and collect me so I could get some products, change my knickers and get back to school. I’m so glad that there is a scheme from the government so that schools can get free products for their students.

Of course, my Grandad collected me by car (he lives a 2-minute walk from the school bless him) and took me home for my Nan to “sort me out”. Thankfully my Nan had some sanitary pads for me to use, I stayed there often so I also had a change of knickers and then off I went back to school.

My lack of preparation for my first period made me certain that my own daughters would never have to experience that. So I have prepared my three daughters right from an early age. Talking openly about the blood, the cramps, the products and even changing my own products whilst in public toilets with them. Showing them it’s totally normal and they shouldn’t be ashamed.

There’s one memory I have from a few years ago whilst in the Science Museum toilets, where Freya loudly starting asking me about my period and what I was doing. Of course, I answered her knowing there was a queue waiting for us and they now all would know that I was on my period. When we came out of the cubicle a lady praised me for our honest conversation.

Freya started puberty a few years ago now, specifically growing breasts about a year ago which is an indication that her period would soon be on its way too. At this point, I started preparing her a bit more in-depth. I gave her a sanitary pad to pop in her school bag just in case and reassured her that when it was time, it was normal and not to panic.

Obviously, we have her autism diagnosis to consider with all of this too. Freya sometimes struggles with sensory issues surrounding clothing so I was anxious to know how she’d cope with period products.

Freya has kindly allowed me to write about her period in the hope that she can encourage other young girls to embrace this change. She has also written her own review which you’ll see further below. I’m very proud of how she has coped.

A few months ago, right at the start of secondary school actually so pretty much the same time as me, her first period came. It was the weekend and I heard her little voice calling out to me for some help. I sort of knew what I was going to walk into. She was a bit panicky but without a fuss, I sorted her with some clean knickers and some sanitary pads.

We discussed not wandering along the carpet with no knickers on (trust me that happened), we talked about cramps, her period app on her phone which will help her keep track and prepared, making sure she changed regularly and that she could use a darker towel for bathtimes or even lay on at night whilst she got used to it all. It’s such a strange thing trying to teach someone about a menstrual cycle, it becomes a part of your monthly life and after a few months, it’s just a habit.

We stocked up on sanitary products that were specific for teens, so slightly smaller, as she is tiny like me. After her second period, it became apparent that she was struggling with some parts of having a period. Firstly was the noise. It sounds (ha) silly but Freya said she could hear the rustling of the pads inside her knickers.

Secondly, she was embarrassed to go to the toilet at school and was worrying about the time it takes to change, so some days she was coming home having not refreshed for 8 hours. This is double the recommended time and I had big concerns for hygiene and potential toxic shock syndrome. I can tell Freya many times to do something but it never sinks in.

I had already started doing some research into reusable period pants to help with the noise issue when RED by Modibodi kindly gifted us a RED Period Kit. I had a friend who had recommended them to me so this is a very exciting collaboration.

The RED Period Kit costs £35 and includes:

  • 1 pair of RED underwear in the style of your choice in Black (this is either Hipster Boyshort or Hipster Bikini).
  • A RED Waterproof Bag.
  • An introductory Period Fact booklet.
  • A Spa Headband. 
  • Body Shop Lip Balm.
  • 6 Exclusive affirmation cards.

We had kindly been gifted some extra pairs too. In total, she has 2 boyshorts and 2 bikinis.

Modibodi have a variety of underwear perfect for absorbing periods or for a sensitive bladder, even maternity underwear and men’s options too. The RED range is perfect for young girls as they are made with their bodies in mind.

The RED Modibodi underwear is designed to absorb liquid and prevent leaks.

It’s made from three layers:

The Top Layer is made from soft bamboo that absorbs moisture, fights bacteria stopping smells and keeping you dry.

The Middle Layer is a Merino Perform Wool. This is the world’s finest and softest wool. It’s also a natural fibre grown on sheep. This safely absorbs the fluid and locks it away.

The Bottom Layer is the crucial part of keeping you leak-free. The waterproof protection.

 

I have experience with reusable nappies so I expected the underwear to be thick. It’s partly what has put me off using them myself, and I am also a tampon lover rather than sanitary pads as I like discreet underwear. 

I was pleasantly surprised that they are not thick and bulky as I imagined, far from it actually and then, of course, my worries of “will they be absorbent enough?” came in. Anyway, here’s our review and thoughts of the two different styles of RED Modibodi Period Pants:

Hipster Boyshort

I won’t lie At first I was a bit horrified by the look of the Hipster Boyshort. They looked a bit like men’s boxers and not girly at all. They were black and boxy. However, they felt soft to touch. The gusset area is slightly thicker, where of course the absorbency needs to be but the rest of the pants around the legs are thin material.

The waistband is elasticated and stretchy. We opted for the size Youth 10-12 years, Freya is nearly 12 years old and is about 136cm tall for reference. These fit her so well, not too tight or loose but with a little bit of extra space for growing.

Here are Freya’s thoughts on this style:

“They were very good at absorbing everything and lasted me all day. They were very comfortable as well and I used them for night time too. I have had no leaks day or night. I’m really happy I have them and find them really easy to use.”

The Boyshorts have a moderate-heavy absorbency level. She puts a pair on in the morning and only needs to change when she feels full/heavy. On a heavy flow day, she changes when she gets home from school, on a lighter day she will put a fresh pair on before bedtime.

Hipster Bikini

The Hipster Bikini pants look just like normal knickers only with a slightly thicker gusset area. Again we opted for the black colour, RED Modibodi does have other patterns available but the RED Period Kit comes with just a black pair. 

Just like the Boyshorts, the fabric is the same and the waistband is elasticated. The size is perfect for Freya’s body shape and size. I like this style the most as they are so similar to wearing everyday knickers, no one would know they were special underwear.

Once again, here are Freya’s thoughts:

“These I used a lot but were not as absorbable. I had to change them more and I wasn’t brave enough to use them at night. They were actually really comfortable but were definitely not my first choice on heavier days. If I had a clean pair of boyshorts available I would go for them first.”

The Hipster Bikini pants are said to also be moderate-heavy absorbency, however, after a few days of using these, it was clear that Freya had to change them much quicker than the boyshorts. Having said that, she loved them as they were super comfortable.

Waterproof Bag

I wanted to put a little mention of the waterproof bag that’s included in the kit, you can buy this separately too. It comes with a Small bag but there is an option to buy a Large version too. We (I keep saying we because I’ve been helping Freya adjust to this new stage in her life) rapidly understood that having a waterproof bag is an essential part of being a period pant wearer.

The small bag which is included is perfect for popping in a school bag. You can keep a clean pair of Modibodi pants in them and then switch for the dirty pair. It’s waterproof so helps to prevent any leakages into your bag until you can get home to wash them. I will talk about washing a bit further down.

Here’s what Freya had to say about the waterproof bag:

“It fits about 3 pairs in tightly. It would be nice to have a bigger bag”

I am considering buying the large bag for keeping at home and storing her dirty pairs before wash day. I think this would be a more efficient way of managing her periods in the future.

How To Wash

My husband has always been a bit worried about the washing part of period pants and cloth nappies. To be honest, it sort of grosses me out a bit too, putting poop (the nappies obviously) and blood into our washing machine. It’s actually been much easier than I thought it would be.

The Modibodi website has this handy visual for washing your underwear:

As recommended, as soon as Freya takes a dirty pair off she runs the gusset area under cold water to get rid of the majority of the collected blood. It’s really important not to soak them. She is then popping them inside the waterproof bag.

Freya only has four pairs of RED Modibodi period pants so we are doing a wash every third dirty pair. I pop it on a delicates cycle with a teeny bit of detergent on a 20°c wash, it’s really important not to use fabric softener. This takes just under an hour for my washing machine, not long at all!

Modibodi sells a Laundry bag to keep the underwear away from any zips or bra straps (the waterproof bag if you pop it in too) but I’ve been washing them on a separate wash due to the temperature requirement. 

It does say to hang dry, but we’ve been popping them on top of a towel on the radiator. I don’t know if I’m meant to, but definitely do not tumble dry them. As we only have four pants, I’ve needed them to dry quicker than air-drying.

Ideally, I think Freya would need at least 6 pairs of period underwear to help us wash less regularly and save on power etc, but also to give them time to dry naturally so that their lifespan is longer. Modibodi suggests that each pair should last between six months to two years.

It sounds a bit odd to be excited and impressed by underwear that’s designed for periods and collecting blood, but truly this has been a game-changer! For Freya specifically, it has resolved her concerns for rustling sanitary pads and the embarrassment (which she shouldn’t have anyway) of using public toilets too.

During her first period, Freya was a bit concerned about seeing the blood in her sanitary products. The fact that these period pants are black takes away the visual side of her period flow. The only issue with that is she cannot monitor her flow or the colour of it, she just has to guess by the heaviness/fullness feeling of her underwear.

My biggest downside to period pants which also has an upside is the cost of the underwear. Individually they cost £19.50 each or you can buy a bundle of 7 pairs for just under £150. It is expensive as an upfront cost but when you take into consideration that the average cost of a period over a whole year in the UK is £500 on products, then you are saving a lot of money if you look after the underwear and they last two or more years.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that the RED Modibodi period pants are of course much better for the environment. No wastage or plastics is being thrown in the rubbish. It’s also much healthier for your body, most sanitary products contain chemicals that try to make period blood smell nicer, this is obviously close to your skin. Period underwear has no chemicals and is made from natural products. Another fantastic thing is that you cannot smell any of the “period smell” which is down to the natural materials used. They have some amazing benefits!

Gosh, I didn’t realise I was so passionate about period underwear, this post has been much longer than I anticipated. As you can probably tell, I would highly recommend looking into and purchasing some RED Modibodi underwear for your young daughter as she starts her period and beyond. They are super comfy, makes periods much simpler. Even Eva, my 7-year-old, has requested for me to buy her some when she starts her periods!!

Disclosure: These period items were gifted to us.

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