“I feel very unprepared about getting my first period. I don’t know exactly what happens and I am really worried about getting it at school. I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone about it and I don’t feel comfortable talking to my mom about it ahead of time either. Would I be able to just use a wad of toilet paper instead of a pad for a day until I get home and can ask my mom for one? Where would I keep pads after I did get my period if I had it at school? I just feel uninformed and unprepared and I need some help.”
Coincidentally, I actually responded to a very similar question last year in a message board titled Period Preparation, so you may find some of what you’re looking for in that post (click here to view it).
As I say in the other message board, although the prospect of getting your period can be stressful (especially if it’s your first time), I promise it’s not nearly as scary as it may sound—so, my first piece of advice is to relax. Everyone’s body experiences menstruating (getting your period) and menarche (first period) differently, but chances are when the time comes it won’t be worse than uncomfortable.
I know you said you’re not comfortable talking about this to your mom, and I completely understand that feeling—although my mother raised the subject herself, I didn’t have the easiest time talking about it either! That said, if you can, I still highly recommend trying to find a way to talk about this with yours (or with another trusted adult, especially a woman, in your life). If you’re worried about being uninformed/unprepared, I suspect there’s no one better equipped to help you! Your mom will likely have tips from her own experience, and may also be able to give you other resources (such as books) that could help you feel more prepared. Remember, a couple decades ago (or whenever she got her first period) your mom was in your shoes.
I don’t say this to pressure you, and again, I understand feeling uncomfortable. Like menstruating itself, though, talking about menstruating (while it may feel somewhat awkward at first) isn’t as scary as it seems… and the more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel. If you start talking about these kinds of things now, not only will you be able to be better prepared for your period when it comes, but if/when you have questions or need support elsewhere down the road of puberty and beyond, getting used to having these types of conversations now will really pay off.
With that said, I’ll move on to your more specific questions! Yes, in a pinch, if you discover you have your period and don’t have official menstrual products available, a thick wad of toilet paper can function until you get home (I mention this as well in the Period Preparation post)! It’s obviously not ideal, but should do the trick when need be—just make sure to check periodically in case you have to replace the paper (because, needless to say, you don’t want to discover your makeshift pad has soaked through to your underwear).
If you have a backpack or other type of bag/purse that you carry with you at school, I’d suggest keeping some pads in there. In fact, you could even get some now, so when the day comes you’ll have them ready—it’s very helpful to have your product already, before you actually need it. (This is another reason I would encourage talking to your mom, so she can give you and/or help you buy pads in advance.) You could also keep pads in your locker (assuming you have one), so even if you’re not carrying them with you, they’re still easily accessible. My period still often catches me unawares (for most—but not all—people, your cycle will even out after a while, but especially at the beginning, and even later on, it can be relatively unpredictable), so I try to make sure I always have at least one pad on hand in case of “emergency.”
I hope this helps to answer your questions and to reassure you: It'll be okay, I promise. If you have other questions or concerns related to periods (or anything else), please feel free to reach out again!