Puberty is a challenging stage in life, for us ladies, it means getting our periods for the first time. Ugh! the stress is on levels! Especially for people like me who grew up in families where discussing menstruation was considered taboo. Telling your parents that you are now on your period was like trying to move mountains, you wouldn’t know where to start the conversation, how to start it and what response to expect. There is nothing as appalling as being in the dark about something that’s set to happen to you and be part of 40+ years of your life (from puberty to menopause). I mean, you should know about menstruation in detail, it is something that you will have to deal with for a long time for crying out loud! It’s unfortunate that our parents deprive us of that chance to embrace such milestones in our lives. They seem to want us to be surprised by everything in life.
Truth be told, periods suck but the first one takes the cup! Imagine the levels of discomfort when you barely know anything about periods. My first period experience was the worst and I feel like no one deserves to go through such trauma. This is why I have decided to talk about preparing your daughter, niece or sister for her first period. If their first period is destined to be a disaster, let it not be because you had failed to enlighten them about this stage of life. In the African setup, menstruation seems to be sacred, like it’s something “ezilayo” (taboo). Come on! Its just part of every girl’s life; it should be treated like a normal body function like using the toilet. I think parents and guardians should treat menstruation like potty training. Teach your daughter about menstruation the same way you taught her to use the toilet during potty training. Trust me if everyone does this, a lot of girls will be saved the shame and misery that comes with their first period.
Here are 4 things that parents/guardians should do to prepare their daughters and nieces for their first period.
1. Address Concerns
One mistake that our parents make is to assume that children know such things because they come across them at school during science or health lessons. Don’t make that mistake of assuming your daughter knows everything. She might be wondering
- how her first period will be like,
- what she should do when she goes on her first period,
- who should she tell and
- how her period will change anything about her life.
These are the things you, as a parent or guardian ought to address. Sit your daughter down and talk to her about what menstrual periods are, what the “blood” looks like, how it feels to be on your period and how to conduct yourself when you are on your period. I believe once the child knows what to expect they will not be shocked when it all happens.
2. Talk about Tampons and Sanitary pads.
do you guys prefer pads or tampons and why?
— 他妈的 (@sunraysandstuff) March 24, 2021
I remember when I first wore pads, I experienced leaks each day of my period because I was wearing the pads the wrong way. By chance, I saw someone putting on their pad and I realised that I had been doing everything wrong! Had someone taught me, I wouldn’t have had such a bad experience. Do justice to your daughter; don’t wait for her to go on her first period to show her how pads and tampons work. Teach her how to wear tampons and pads to avoid leaks. Also mention how long she should have them on to avoid infections. These are things we take lightly but make such a huge difference in a girl’s life.
3. Teach her how to track her period.
OMG! Going home with a spoilt uniform every month is not fun guys, having your teacher dismiss you in the middle of a lesson because you’ve soiled your uniform and you don’t have the necessary items like pads- isn’t fun either. Tell your daughter about the whole menstrual cycle and how she can track her period. Nowadays technology has even made things easy for us; just help her download a period tracker on her phone or your phone then you can use it to track her period. With a tracker she knows when she needs to carry her extra pads in case she goes on her period while she’s away from home.
4. Create a period kit for her
Nobody knows when the day will come, but on average, the first period can start at the age of 12 or within 2 years of breast development. This then becomes the stage whereby your daughter needs a period kit to carry wherever she goes just in case. During the first few months she will be plagued by what is known as an “irregular cycle” where it is nearly impossible to track her period. Therefore, the greatest piece of advice there is is to stay prepared. You can get a zipped pouch for her to put at least 2 sanitary pads or tampons and a clean pair of underwear (and some pain meds just incase). Periods bring enough stress: what with the food cravings, mood swings and PAIN, they don’t need the additional burden of being caught off-guard.
Women empowerment begins at a young age and with the smallest things girls (future women) need to know as they grow. This women’s month, let’s #ChooseToChallenge the various societal norms and practices that pose challenges to the empowerment of women and the girl child.