If you read my post about the fabulous things I purchased while I was visiting my mother, you know that I was able to get a few mama pads as an alternative to the disposables I've used my whole "adult" life. Since switching to cloth diapers for both Heidi and Piper, I have wanted to try cloth pads for myself as the next step in "greening" my life.
Before I go on, let me put this in perspective, just in case you have an "ick" factor about cloth menstrual pads. If every disposable diaper that has ever been changed is still out there, that means that every disposable pad you have used is also still out there. It takes 150-200 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. If your parents were in disposable diapers, you can go and visit each and every diaper that was on them. If you put your children in disposable diapers (as I did for a while), when they have children, you can also take them to go and visit every. single. diaper. that they wore because they. will. still. be. there. THAT is gross.
So first I wanted to make sure that H & P had enough diapers before I got myself any alternative menstrual solutions because, well, they do cost money and the start-up cost for these two ventures can be daunting. Also, I was lucky enough to have a delayed period for 9 or 10 months while nursing Piper so I did not have a need for any of that. Then I had to burn through all the disposables I still had because I really hate to waste anything and didn't think of donating them at that time (is that even possible?). Finally, when we got our tax return this year, I was able to start this greening process.
I started with the DivaCup and in hindsight, I really have no idea why. I think I was lured in by the fact that you can leave it in for 12 hours, take it out, empty it and put it right back in for another 12. I'm sure busy moms everywhere will also see the appeal of this particular item as we don't always have the opportunity to go to the bathroom and make the sanitary switch.
What is a DivaCup? It's a menstrual cup that sits in your vagina and simply collects the blood. It is minimally invasive and works similarly to that of a tampon so if you are a regular tampon user, this might really appeal to you. However, unlike a tampon, you can reuse your DivaCup for a whole year. Yes, it does cost between $30 and $40 (and there are other brands though I am unsure of their names/costs), but that is a once yearly payment and you are not adding to the landfill mess.
Although I have had some difficulties with the DivaCup, I would still recommend it to anyone who was really interested in trying it. My main problem is that it "rides up" on me quite significantly even though I am wearing the right size. I've been trying to work on my Kegels, but most often forget so I'm sure that is part of the problem. Perhaps if I had delivered vaginally I might not have this problem so if you have, this might really work for you. I have tried tying a string around the base to pull it out and that helped quite a bit. Unfortunately, the string needs to be replaced often so Steve told me he would get me fishing line, but that has yet to happen. I don't want to spend half an hour taking this cup out every time I put it in, so that is where cloth menstrual pads come in.
|The larger blue pad is esbaby and the other two are ImseVimse.|
When it came to washing, I decided to wash them much like I do my diapers. First I ran them through a cold wash with Rockin' Green detergent and then through a hot wash with some vinegar. Then I dried them in the dryer with medium heat. I only have one pad that ended up staining significantly so I stuck that one in the window to get some sun (sorry passersby!). I'm sure if you care about stains you can pre-treat in whatever fashion you choose (as naturally as possible), but I choose not to focus my energy on stains because especially for things like this, it makes absolutely no difference in terms of how the product actually works.
In a nutshell, here are the reasons I think you should switch to mama cloth (or a menstrual cup) over disposables:
Softness: Obviously, having real fabric against your skin is much more enjoyable than plastic. (And having specially crafted silicone inside your vagina is a lot better for you than bleached chemically treated processed cotton.) It might take some time to get used to this feeling, but I really think you will prefer it over disposable pads.
Absorption: My first day is usually extremely heavy but I still only had to change pads twice (put one on, change, put one on, change, put one on - DivaCup/bed). Even the unassuming ImseVimse pads were really absorbent and the only reason I "leaked" (I didn't really, just got a bit on my underwear) is because I had the pad positioned a little weird.
No yuck: OK, this may sound a little weird, but for those of us who have hair in certain places, have you found that with disposable pads the menstrual fluid gets trapped/clotted and stuff there? (Yes, this is an odd thing to discuss, sorry :) ) This always happens to me and it drives me nuts! But, when I wore all cloth this past cycle, I did NOT have this issue! I was really, really clean each time I went to change the pad and this made me very happy.
They're Moveable: Have you ever put a pad in your underwear and realized it was incorrectly positioned, yet when you tried to move it found the stickiness to not work as well? With cloth, you will never have this problem again! The pads are held onto your underwear with snaps (or maybe velcro?) and are fully moveable! You can slide it up and down to wherever it feels best as many times as you want. However, this does not mean that the pad will slide around all over the place while you're wearing it. It might move a bit, but for the most part it stays put unless you act upon it to make it move.
Washing: Those of you who do not use cloth diapers might find washing these a bit of a problem. But don't you already wash your underwear if it gets stained? Don't you wash your clothes if they get dirty? The best thing to do is not think about it. Just throw them in the washing machine and let that contraption do the work.
Start-up Costs: As I said before, the start-up of anything cloth is daunting. You might look at the prices and think "Holy cow! That's so much!" But, if you add up all the money you spend on pads/tampons for 5+ years, the cost of these pads is so minimal in comparison because they will last for 5 years or more with only a one-time investment.
Are there other drawbacks you can think of? I'd love to hear them :)
Now, if you are interested in trying this method, here are a few avenues for you to check out.
- Talulah Bean is another option with packages and they have a lot of different patterns to choose from.
- Glad Rags also has a number of kits, but I believe they are more expensive than most I've found on other pages.
- There are also a lot of WAHM shops on Etsy where you could find more inexpensive pads to try.
Some final thoughts:
- If you cloth diaper your baby, why not cloth pad yourself? Don't you deserve to have the feeling of real cloth against your skin, just like your baby does?
- If you don't cloth diaper but are considering it, why not test the cloth idea out on yourself? You already make self-sacrifices for your children on a daily basis; consider yourself the eternal experimentee!
- If you have a daughter, imagine how enjoyable you can make the experience of getting her first menses when she picks out the pattern or color pad she wants?
- Water is a renewable resource; land is not.
So, have I convinced you yet?
*Also worthy to note that I have not been compensated in any way for the opinions given here; I simply enjoy sharing things I'm passionate about. *