Menarche is an important mile stone in a girls life , it is the time when she transforms in to a women.
With many sources of information like various websites, schoolteachers, health-care practitioners, printed material, and even educational films. Do our girls really need our help?
While all of the above provide valuable information on the biology of menstruation many girls don’t understand how to deal with the emotional feelings associated with menstruation.
The mother, grandmother or the elder sister can help to provide additional information and emotional support, which is much needed at this time.
Grandmothers, older sisters, and particularly mothers can help to provide the additional information and emotional support that young girls need. Most often, girls consider their mother to be the most important source of information about menstruation.
The role of the father.
While some girls feel embarrassed to discuss it with their fathers others expect their fathers to provide an indirect role by offering support and understanding.
These days with the increase in the number of single fathers it is important that men understand the basics of menstruation as well.
That very first period can come as quite a surprise to a young girl. One day she is a carefree youngster; the next, she is a young woman, experiencing the start of menstruation, maybe her first mood swing, and perhaps even premenstrual symptoms.
Signs of the First Period
The age at which young girls start menstruating can vary widely, with some girls getting their first period as early as 8 years old and others not until they are 15.
Breast development and pubic hair growth are often the signs and this generally starts happening one year before menstruation .
A girl’s first period is usually very light, with sometimes only spotting or very little blood.
The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but periods are often irregular during the first years of menstruation.
During this time, girls may skip menstrual cycles, or the cycles may occur multiple times in one month, or less frequently than expected.
Even though these fluctuations are common during the first few years of menstruation,you need to talk with your daughter’s doctor if her periods do not seem regular.
The emotional side
The most important change that you will observe is that she becomes more concious about her self, about her image and gives lot of importance to her looks.
The hormones are taking over she can become more irritable and snappish
Most of the time girls are anxious or afraid about the periods so it is very important to prepare them for menarche
Research shows that Girls who are prepared for menarche often have a more positive experience with menstruation. On the other hand girls who are not prepared and can experience it as traumatic or be scared or embarrassed.
The sight of blood generally frightens people, since bleeding is usually associated with pain or injury. Thus, it is not difficult to see that when proper explanation or preparation is lacking, cultural stereotypes, myths, or even plain ignorance can cause one wrongly to associate menstruation with disease or injury or to view it as something of which to be ashamed.
Open communication – A dialogue rather than a long talk will work the best, try to find out what concerns her.
You could begin with a general discussion on why do girls have a period, where you explain the natural menstrual cycle, tell her that the onset of menstruation is a sign that she can become a mother if fertilization takes place.
Talk to her about
Use of napkins / pads / cloth / menstrual cup during menstruation (to be changed at least every four to six hours)
How much bleeding to expect (normally few teaspoon full, it its more, she must consult a doctor.)
How long will the period last ( 3-5 days on an average)
The other important things that you need to bring about in the discussion is
PMS- premenstrual symptoms, which may include mood swings, bloating and breast tenderness etc.
Cramps or tightness in the lower abdomen if you observe a pattern, ask her to use a heat pad and see if it helps otherwise you may need to seek medical help.
Nutrition and exercise – it is vital that we talk to our daughters regarding the right kind of food and exercise as changing hormonal patterns already make her prone to weight gain , acne and hair fall.
Avoiding sugar,coffee and processed food will surely ensure that her hormone levels are kept in check, exercise will ensure that the blood supply to the organs concerned is optimized there by providing oxygen
Stress has become an integral part in each one’s life, managing stress is also very important, introduce her to yoga, meditation or music ( these can go a long way in helping a person relax and function optimally.)
Menstrual education should be viewed as a continuing process rather than as a one-time discussion. You do not need to cover all the details in one sitting.
Too much information all at once can be overwhelming for a young girl.
Children learn things in stages. Also, repetition of information on different occasions may be necessary. As young girls grow older, they are more able to understand additional details.
Another factor is that girls’ attitudes toward menstruation change throughout adolescence. After your daughter gains more experience with her periods, she will likely face new concerns and questions.
Hence, you need to continue to share information with her and answer her questions. Focus on what is most meaningful and appropriate for your daughter’s age and ability to understand.
As parents it is our responsibility to ensure that she experiences menstruation as a natural cycle and not a curse.