Being a mother is a great challenge and being the mother of an adolescent girl an even greater challenge.
Especially when your adolescent girl is entering ‘that age and stage’ of life!
As much as every mother is proud at the sight of her growing up girl, a part of her is understandably tense and anxious. She knows that her darling Princess has entered ‘that special phase of her life’ when her body is preparing her for the most important duty in the World- To be a Mother.
And menstruation is just the ‘first step’ in this lovely journey.
The mother is in two minds, a dilemma of sorts for she does not know exactly ‘how much to reveal’ and exactly ‘how much to keep under wraps’. What should be told and how should be told are the two main questions that keep poking a mother’s conscience.
The struggle is between information and secrecy.
The struggle is also between guiding her without scaring her.
But every mother should remember one thing, that however embarrassing she may feel speaking about this topic, speaking on it is a MUST.
Every girl has a right to know everything about her body, the physical and emotional changes that are bound to occur in her due to the impact of hormonal changes, and how to deal with it most appropriately.
At the start, every mother could start by telling her daughter ‘what a blessing it is to be born a girl’ so that the daughter feels happy and not guilty about her life and body.
Next, the mother could go on and tell her daughter ‘what a great blessing it is to be a mother’ so that the daughter is ready to accept the challenges that she might encounter during the process.
The important thing is that all this information has to be given to the daughter by the mother in such a way that the daughter starts welcoming the bodily and mental changes that happen to her.
And neither fears them nor hates them. And never hates herself or blames herself.
And who’s better than the girl’s mother to impart such a vital piece of information?
This is essential since otherwise the daughter will get this information from some other unreliable sources, be it her friends and classmates, her neighbors, from books, or the internet, which might give her a horrible picture of the entire phase.
Educating the daughter about the menstruation and the other changes that occur in her body is very essential. And every mother should ensure that she had a good face-to-face talk with her adolescent daughter regarding this. Explaining to the daughter and convincing her that getting menstruation is a very natural process of growing up for any adolescent, is most important.
The other thing is empowering her with the right knowledge about this phase of her life.
A mother should start by explaining that getting one’s menstruation and that too regularly, is a sign of good health and make her daughter aware that there is nothing to feel ashamed or guilty about since every young girl goes through this phase in her life.
Informing the daughter about the significance of getting one’s menstruation is another important step. This article is listing out some of the major significance of getting menstruation:
- Menstruation is the vaginal bleeding that occurs in the life of every woman (of child-bearing age) and is perfectly natural and normal.
- Menstruation signifies the lady’s fertility and her chances of becoming pregnant.
- The body of every woman (of child-bearing age) prepares for pregnancy and when no pregnancy occurs, the uterus sheds its lining, resulting in the menstrual blood flow from the body.
- Menstruation, also known as a period, is the regular discharge of unfertilized egg, blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus.
Informing the daughter that a menstrual cycle may be associated with some other physical or emotional symptoms is equally important. Some of these changes are as follows:
- Besides bleeding, some may experience abdominal or pelvic cramps or pain in the lower back.
- Some others may complain of headache, fatigue while others may show mood swings and irritability.
- Some are known to have bloating or sore breasts while others may experience food cravings.
- Some may even get PMS which is Premenstrual syndrome, which can be a combination of emotional or physical symptoms. They usually start before the start of the menstruation cycle.
The next step would be guiding the daughter and teaching her how to deal with this situation safely and hygienically. Educating the daughter and guiding her during this sensitive phase is imperative.
It is ironic that “Though pregnancies are a cause of celebration all around the world, the menstrual cycles are a cause of taboo and shame in most cultures and countries around the world”.
Since this topic and important phase of an adolescent girl’s life is rarely discussed publicly, the methods used during this period are also not widely known and it is this combination of ignorance, secrecy, and taboo which has led to the mismanagement of menstrual health.
Many young girls and ladies used old, unhygienic cloth and other unhygienic materials for absorption of the menstrual blood, which leads to discomfort and can even lead to diseases. Also, privacies like washroom and facilities like clean water, soap, etc. which are required for cleanliness during this vital period are sorely missing or not considered important, leading to infections, which can be avoided with the use of simple hygiene practices. Cleanliness of genital area and access to safe menstrual hygiene products can reduce the incidents of infection up to 97%.
The social and cultural impacts of not having proper menstrual hygiene management are also seen in the fact that many adolescent girls drop out of school because they do not have proper access to sanitary pads (cloth or synthetic), and clean toilets and soap and water, during their menstrual cycle and face fear and embarrassment of stains and ridicule.
Why menstrual hygiene is important is highlighted as follows:
- Reduced Risk of Itching, Rashes, and Irritation around the genitals, Urinary tract infections, and Reproductive tract infections.
- Minimizing the risk of cervical cancer.
- Ensuring that the young girl enjoys good reproductive health and life.
The mother can go on to show her daughter how to handle these ‘special days’ in the month and all the procedures that are to be followed and the products that are to be used, to make these ‘special days’ as hassle-free as possible.
The gentle introduction to Cloth pads will be the next step:
Reusable cloth pads are a best solution and alternative to single-use sanitary napkins or tampons, which are harmful to the body as well as the environment. Cloth pad are the perfect gift that a mother can give her daughter to begin and maintain a Healthy and Sustainable menstruation.
Empowering the daughter with the right information, product, and guidance for those ‘special days’ will make every daughter feel ‘truly special and loved’.