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Mums with Daughters, How is Your Girl Washed? Learn from my Experience

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For many working moms, many delegate some responsibilities to their house girls. A Mummy Tales reader inboxed me with an experience she recently went through, and requested if I could share it with other moms. She said:

“The other day while at chama with the gals, we got talking and I learnt something that has totally opened my eyes to something I wasn’t aware of.

For a while, my 4 year-old daughter had been complaining of pain when urinating. I had taken her to hospital many times, and each time she was tested for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), the results always came out negative. So at chama, when one of my pals mentioned the practice of douching, a practice common among some communities in one of the neighboring countries (where I am currently based), I put two and two together and got a ‘light bulb moment’.

(Douching is washing or cleaning the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids. Women who douche say they do this to keep themselves fresh, get rid of vaginal odour, rinse away menstrual blood, prevent pregnancy after having sex, and also to avoid STI’s. Douching is not recommended by health experts).

I relocated to this neighboring country 3 years ago with my family, and I have had quite a turnover of house girls. Most of these house girls come from a culture where douching is common.

So when I got home after chama, I called my daughter aside and asked her to tell me how the current housegirl washes her. She told me: “she uses her fingers to wash me inside here” (pointing at her vagina). You can only imagine how mad I was and the grief I felt upon hearing that. I was crushed. I could not believe that all this had been happening to my daughter yet I had no idea. How could I not have known? I felt so guilty.

When I asked my daughter why she didn’t tell me earlier on what was happening, she innocently told me that she didn’t know it was wrong.

I felt so terrible! I don’t blame the house girls because I later on discovered that they were brought up washing their vagina’s that way, so for them that’s the only way they know how to clean themselves. It’s part of their culture so they had no malice when ‘cleaning’ my daughter.

Had I known before, I would have instructed them on how to bath my daughter immediately I hired them. Now I know better and will always ensure that I take time to show every new house girl how I want my daughter to be bathed. I will also question them on the douching aspect before I employ them.

The reason I’m sharing my experience is so that other moms with daughters can learn from me, especially those with house helps who are of different communities from their own. Our cultures as Kenyans, as East Africans differ, and it’s best never to assume that what you do/don’t do is what someone else does/doesn’t do. I have learnt the hard way.”

That is this mum’s story. Very hard-hitting I must say. I hope it helps another parent out there. -Maryanne. 

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16 COMMENTS

  1. OMG this just scared me.im a mother to a new born (15weeks) babygirl and ive been struggling to teach my househelp how to clean her genitalia due to nappy rush..my baby got a fungal infection a while back and my paed advised that i should teach my help how to clean her and anyone else who takes care of her,because sometimes if the nanny wipes her poop upwards instead of downwards the poop can cause her to have an infection.being a mother to an older male child,i had to learn the hard way.sadly.

  2. Goodness, thank you for sharing this. I’m not a mother yet but for sure I have learnt a great lesson. PS. Maryanne I enjoy reading your posts, very informative.

  3. An eye opener.Some one told me once when it comes to housegirls and babies dont assume. Like one has to teach them that which seems obvious.Had a hilarious experience last year.I was living in of the African countries and got a househelp from one of the neighbouring countries.I asked her whether she knew how to bath babies and she responded yes.So i asked her to give my son who was 20 months then, a bath. OMG ! She undressed him an off to the bathroom she went .No soap! No hot water in the baby basin! Your guess is as good as mine a cold bath under the tap!

  4. How about not letting your housegirl wash your children at all. My friend and her sister are both very busy bankers but the one thing they both do is to wash their children from birth and when the child starts talking he/she is made aware that the househelp is not supposed to wash them.

    • What happens if you are a travelling mother and have to go out of the country for work? The kids wait till you get back to take a shower? Doesn’t make sense.

  5. Mums its always good when u wash your baby it really helps one to know if your baby is okay in the private parts but if we leave our house helps to wash our babies then how will you ever know if your child is handled in the right way.It is also a time when you bond with your child so mums lets take time and be the ones who wash our kids I know we are very busy but seriously we can get some time for our kids.

  6. There is one thing I really try. Washing my baby myself. She is now 8 months and I work everyday till evening but I always making it my duty to wash her. No matter how busy I get.

  7. Comment:I have never allowed a househelp to wash my babies for me.just never felt comfortable with the idea.I don’t find it appropriate

  8. Hi mums this article is very informative…mums we should create time for our babies I don’t believe the help should bath your child…surely we can create time for our children

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