- HEALTH MATTERS. It is inevitable that every girl will get into menstrual period. Some parents will tell you this is the hardest phase in parenting as girls become stubborn and secretive. ZUURAH KARUNGI explores how different mothers handled their daughters’ first menstrual period.
Some parents’ nightmare comes with their daughter s getting their first menstrual periods. It comes with a mixture of feelings as it is a sign of maturity and the child can get pregnant in case they engage in sexual acts. Some parents do not know what to tell their girls and some may not know as some children go quiet about it.
Sarah Kisembo, a mother of two, notes that it caught her by surprise as the daughter was just turning 10. She felt it was a bit early for monthly period.
“She was in Primary Four, I found it hard to explain to her but had no option. I introduced sex topics in a simple way as she was innocent. I also tried to get closer to her so that she could confide in me with everything that happens in her life,” Kisembo recalls.
She adds that she told her it was natural and a sign of maturity, she gave her the necessary materials and taught her how to use them.
Talking through relatives
Sharon Nabatanzi says her daughter was shy to tell her so she found out from the house help.
“This was the time she changed drastically and treated me as an enemy since I become tough on her. She would never tell me anything about herself even when I asked. I had to use other people to talk to her mostly the house help and her aunts,” she notes
Hamis Muhammad, a single father, saw his daughter’s stained skirt and did not know what to do, the girl was just 11 years old. He bought her pads and knickers and invited his female friend home who talked to her. “From that day onwards I send her to her grandmother for holidays to talk to her,” Muhammad reveals.
Became more vigilant
“My daughter told me and I advised her on how to go about her period, I knew it was also time for me to be more vigilant as she had reached a stage where she could confide more in peers than myself,” notes Shakilah Kityo, a businesswoman.
“I had to be softer on her so that she could freely express her challenges to me and it worked,” Kityo explains.
Time for sex education
Afusa Shaban, mother of six, notes that for her this was always time for ample sex education to her girls.
“I never allowed anyone to parent my child as no one can advise them as much as I could. I taught them how to relate with the opposite sex, and never to engage in sexual acts because they could get pregnant,” Shaban recalls.
She says at this point girls will dislike you at this period but will thank you when they are grown so do not fear to advise them.
She was prepared
Josephine Achen, says she started talking to her girl when she was nine years old and by the time she got her period at 14, she was fully prepared and even knew how to use sanitary towels. She only had to advise her on how to behave especially with the opposite sex.
Different children react differently at that stage in life, do not expect them to behave uniformly. Prepare yourself.
Time to be vigilant : Sharon Gimono, a teacher, notes that this is time for a parent to keep their eyes open. Menstruation means your child is grown and can get attracted to the opposite sex.
“My mother would never leave me with males at home, she would take me almost everywhere she went. She would send my young siblings to our grandmother but not me. Parents need to keep eyes on their children from this time until they can sensibly decide on their own,” she says, adding that schools should also have special sessions where they talk to girls about menstrual hygiene and puberty.
Proper diet: Annet Nakazibwe, a counsellor and teacher, adds that since they lose a lot of blood every month, they should be taught healthy eating habits especially on foods rich in iron. These include vegetables, beans, nuts, among others and to drink plenty of fluids especially water.
Caution: Fathers, if this topic is outside your comfort zone, ask an older daughter or female relative to bring it up. Your daughter might be just as uncomfortable talking with you about her period as you are.
See a doctor sooner if:
•She has pain when inserting or removing a tampon.
•Her periods come more often than every 21 days or are more than 45 days apart.
•She has very heavy periods or cramps that nonprescription pain relievers do not help.