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5 ways to prepare your daughter for her first period

Is your daughter approaching the age of attaining puberty? Here's how to prepare her for the inevitable.

Doctors from the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists Society of India (FOGSI) observed in a survey that the age at which Indian girls attain puberty has dropped over the last few years as 80% of urban girls reach puberty by the age of 11. If your daughter is nearing this age, it is a good decision to finally sit down with her and answer all her questions related to what those sanitary napkin ads are all about. You could also watch this video to know more about puberty in girls.

For most girls, their first period can be a very scary and confusing period if they re unaware about why their body is undergoing these changes and most importantly, why they will bleed for at least a week month after month. Dr. Shazneen Limjerwala, a Psychotherapist and expert in relationship issues, says these are the five ways you can guide your daughter and help her through this emotional stage of life.

1. Patiently answer all her questions

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Pick a private spot in your house where you two can have this conversation without anyone overhearing, so she feels comfortable. Once you initiate a conversation with your daughter about how she might soon start menstruating, she will have many questions like how her first period will feel like, how long will it last and also, why women have monthly vaginal bleeding. As a parent, it is your responsibility to explain to her that one of her ovaries will release an egg every month, which is called ovulation.

'The guideline is to satiate the curiosity of the child, to the extent she can digest it. As a thumb rule, leave out unnecessary information, but leave the door open for them to ask, if and when they feel the need to,' says Dr Limjerwala.

2. Tell her how to use sanitary napkins and tampons

You can show her how to use a sanitary napkin correctly by demonstrating it with one of her spare underwear. Many young girls struggle with putting on their sanitary napkins the right way, so this training session will go a long way in preparing her for her first period.Tell her to remember that she will get her period around the same time it started every month and to always keep spare pads or tampons with her.

3. Make a period bag for her

Keep some sanitary napkins and a spare underwear in a small bag which she should carry in her school bag everyday. This way, if she gets her period unexpectedly during classes, she won t have to face the embarrassment of too much staining or having to wear unclean underwear until she gets home. Make sure to repeatedly tell her that a woman getting her period is a perfectly normal phenomena and that she shouldn t hesitate approaching one of her teachers or classmates for help in such a situation.

4. Don t overwhelm her with too much information

While imparting knowledge and information about how a woman s body evolves after a certain age is definitely the right way to go, however, remember not to scare her. Yes, periods can be painful due to the cramps, stomach aches and bloating, but don t mention these symptoms to her as one of the first points while discussing menstruation with her.

She is unlikely to experience them in the first few years and it might scare or overwhelm her in her pre-teen years. Instead, lightly inform her that mild stomach-aches and feelings of discomfort is normal and she shouldn t worry about it. Here's your guide to decode menstrual problems.

5. Educate her about personal hygiene

Don t forget to emphasise on how she will need to maintain hygiene during her period, including how to dispose a sanitary napkin or tampon. Tell her how often she might need to change sanitary napkins and how important it is to keep herself clean and dry to avoid any skin rashes or infections. Here are 10 menstrual hygiene tips you need to know about.

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