“Look Mom, it has happened!”
That was the time when I realized that educating my daughter about menstruation well in advance had made the big difference between “It has happened.” and “What has happened?”
As soon as my daughter turned 10, I was apprehensive about her starting her periods because I have known mothers of girls as young as 9 sharing stories about their daughters having started menstruating.
But, that didn’t stop me from learning all that I can about puberty.
Early onset puberty, or precocious puberty, has become a common problem these days, and this is probably triggered by the changing lifestyle, obesity and overactive hormones in teenagers.
Researchers have established that girls, and even boys, have been experiencing puberty earlier over the last few decades.
Also, girls who begin puberty earlier are at risk to lower self-esteem, lower academic achievement and a higher rate of depression.
It took me a year of thinking about whether or not the time is right to talk to her. When she turned 11, I decided to take the initiative.
I talked to her about the physical changes she was going through and also the ones she was likely to go through in the near future. About six months later, when it actually happened for the first time, the knowledge that I had shared with her earlier helped both of us.
A Testing Time for Both of Us
This first step into puberty is a whole new world for both the child and the mother.
A mother has to hold her daughter’s hand, support her and guide her through this difficult transition from a girl to a young lady.
They will likely experiment with trying on makeup for the first time and it’s our job to give them as much independence as needed.
This is probably the most challenging part of being the mother of a daughter and patience is the one and only key to sail through it smoothly.
Time and again, I have to remind myself that she’s no longer the little girl she used to be. Now she is an individual with a personality of her own, struggling to climb that crucial step between childhood and adolescence. She will need all my support and need to make sure I am always there for her.
Helping Her to Cope With the Change
I still remember those days when I was going through all this myself, how I used to feel and behave.
Recalling my own experience helps me avoid making judgments on my child.
Certain hormonal changes may lead to symptoms such as
- Body ache
- Nausea etc.I
In the beginning I considered these issue as excuses.
But later on, when I talked to mothers in my peer group I realized that these are a natural part of this stage of growth in girls.
We, as mothers need to patiently listen to our children and help them interpret these signals.
The child also needs to be educated about the importance of physical hygiene, handling of sanitary pads and pre-menstrual symptoms.
Being There for Your Daughter
Having a friendly conversation with my daughter was really helpful. Initially the child may feel shy discussing the topic, however, hearing from mommy that it is not an illness or a problem, and that she is a very normal young woman, can work wonders for the child’s confidence.
Once she is comfortable about it, she will find it easier to talk to her friends and probably be more relaxed when she learns that even they are sailing the same boat.
Some Handy Tips
Lots of love and patience and a little care can help a mother ease all the pain and problems that her daughter might face during her first period.
Here are some handy tips that might be of help:
- You need to guide your daughter to maintain a calendar of her menstrual cycle so that she is not caught unaware, though it might not be regular for the first year or so.
- In case she feels cramps or menstrual pain, you may give her a mild pain killer. A back massage or a hot-water bottle might also do the trick. In case the pain is unbearable, you might need to take her to a specialist, who might prescribe a medication or iron supplements if she is anemic.
- You need to take care of her diet. Avoid giving her spicy or oily food, too much salt and sugar. Prefer hot drinks to cold drinks. A nutritious and balanced diet will help her.
- Raw papaya is good to ease menstrual pain while bananas are good for cramps.
- Herbal tea made with ginger or lemon grass can be helpful. Also encourage her to drink lots of water.
Mothering a daughter is an amazingly beautiful experience, but comes with many challenges. Helping her through this difficult phase and seeing her bloom from a bud to a lovely flower makes you feel closer to her.
Once a daughter is grown up, both the mother and the daughter can look back and cherish those days as the time when the lifelong bond between them was strengthened even further.
Tell us, how will you handle the “first time” with your daughter? Share your tips with our readers!