The Health and well being of your new adult
If your daughter has already started her menstruating then you are reading this a little bit too late, but better late than never. Sometimes going in to this conversation on women's health can be quite uncomfortable to some, if not uncomfortable for you as the parent, more than awkward for the daughter. I know my mother really just did not talk to me about anything like women's health. I would just see her tampon box in the bathroom and asked what they were for, "there is a leaflet in the box that will explain how to use them" was the end of our mother-daughter conversation. Luckily for me, I was of the generation where school had already educated me quite well on the matter of Women's health and menstruation.
How to tell when is the right time to talk with your daughter
By the time your daughter starts her periods, she has finished puberty because puberty is the part of female health that prepares us for menstruation and adulthood. Scarily enough we can start our periods any where from 8 - 16 years old. No one wants to sit an 8 year old down and have to explain the reproductive system and scare the life out of their daughter but it would be far more scary for your daughter to start bleeding and not have a clue what is happening to her. That could cause some quite traumatic emotions. The best way to deal with this is to do so age appropriately, with the amount of information given dependant on age and maturity of your daughter. What should not affect the information you give your daughter, is the fact that you may feel uncomfortable, as this conversation is for her benefit, not yours.
Physical signs that your daughter is heading in to puberty and menstruation.
Firstly your daughter will show a sudden growth spurt of a couple of inches, then her chest may swell around the nipple area, only slightly. You may have heard friends saying their daughters were "budding", this is what they mean. This looks similar to how a chest on a young girl can look when they are overweight, but on a child of normal size it is the effect of puberty. This may cause some aching around the chest area and your daughter may complain that they ache slightly. Also something that you may never become aware of depending on their age, is that they start developing body hair. You can ask them if they are, but the likely hood of them telling you reduces depending on each girl.
If you are the main person for laundry duty you may also start to notice that they are having discharge in their underwear, this may be your entry point in to the conversation and you could introduce liners first before bringing out all the other options.
Emotional signs that your daughter is getting ready to start menstruating soon.
Are you wondering where this Ogress of a child has come from when only 12 months ago you were like best friends? Welcome to puberty, yes you were the same with your mother, whether you remember it or not, you were likely just as snarly and started distancing from your parents a bit, your daughter will likely act just the same. You really need to remember who the parent is then, don't take any comments or bite backs personally, doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished for it however, just that you need to understand that may be a sign of menstruation is getting ready to join your daughter's life.
Actually having the conversation about menstruation
Before you decide to sit down and talk to your daughter and you both get all flustered, sit down in privacy and write down key points that you want to cover. Personally these are the points that I would think need to be covered.
- Explain that the girl is to expect some changes and that she will soon be ready to have her monthly menstrual cycles. Even is she gets really awkward and tries to cut the conversation off by saying they have done it at school, tell her that you would feel comfy if you still discussed it as there are issues school may not have covered.
- Talk about how it may or may not be painful and how they can deal with the cramps and stomach ache, back pain etc, with paracetamol, warm baths and hot water bottles.
- Let them know what the options are for them, they can use sanitary pads, explain the different strengths. Tampons, but explain that there is a safety issue that means they need to be responsible. Most parents I know feel uncomfortable about talking about the tampons as it is their daughter and they don't want to know about a device that she would have to insert in to her body, but sometimes sanitary pads on their own just don't cut it if a girl suffers heavily and tampons are an extra form of defense. There is a leaflet in the box and that should be enough to show them how to use them. Suggest that they possibly keep a written note of every time they change their tampon to make sure they change them and remove the last one.
- Explain how to deal with hygiene and cleaning when on a menstrual cycle.
- Talk about how sometimes accidents can happen through bad timing and the better idea of wearing black clothing and not white jeans during that time of the month.
- Lastly, if your daughter is a teenager, talk to her about the fact that she may want to consider birth control methods, as that is a lot better than having another sit down talk and having to discuss where to have an abortion.
Once you have explained what you wish to explain to her, give your daughter the opportunity to discuss any fears, worries or questions that she has with you. All of this will be a lot easier if you do not make periods a taboo issue from them being young. I have 3 daughters and none of them blink or ask what the tampons and sanitary pads are anymore because I gave them a quick and truthful answer that they are used to get rid of the cushion of blood that my body makes incase I want a baby each month and that because I don't want any more babies my body gets rid of the cushion. I find honest parenting is a lot less scary for them and there are a lot less uncomfortable questions too.