Last month, I started my period less than two days after my only brother died. I had to suffer my period the entire time I was in New Jersey for my brother's service. Of course I did, right?! I did myself a favor and decided to only use the Diva Cup while I was traveling. Overall, it wasn't all that bad and was more convenient than toting a box of tampons in my luggage. Or, more likely, in my handbag.
However, I'm not gonna lie, it really sucked balls to deal with airport connections while worrying that my Cup was about to overflow. Naturally, my travel day was also my "heavy" day and I had to deal with emptying and reinserting the cup at LAX in Los Angeles. And Logan airport in Boston. And on two different planes. It wasn't fun in the least. My vagina was busy, but my cup is mighty so I never experienced even one little leak the entire time I was gone - hooray!
I decided that, on my next cycle, I would try the mama cloth I purchased in August. Well, I did not conceive right after my brother's death (shocker!) so I did get my monthly visitor this month. I intentionally ignored my Diva Cup and grabbed a mama cloth pad.
I have to say that I was sure that it would be yucky and gross to use the cloth menstrual pads. I mean, I'm just not a fan of pads in general. Heck, I only wore pads (disposable of course) regularly back when I first started getting periods. I switched to tampons at some point in the 8th grade and kicked Stay Free to the curb. That is, until I started getting these horribly heavy days in my cycle. Tampons, not even those super-duper giant cigar-sized tampons, could not absorb the flow fast enough so I was forced to use these ultra ginormous maxi pads to keep my clothes safe from Aunt Flo's, uh, flow.
Anyway, I grabbed a cloth pad and put it on. They all have wings that snap together so the pad (hopefully) won't go slipping around in your underpants. All of my pads are also fleece or flannel backed so they aren't particularly prone to slippage when worn with cotton panties. Yeah, I know. Cotton panties, how pedestrian. But, really, who is wearing silk panties on their period anyway?
So how was it to wear a cloth pad? You know, it wasn't all that bad. I mean, what's not to like? They didn't leak and they are totally comfortable to wear. My pads are very soft and quite comfortable. I prefer the velour topped pads over the flannel topped pads, but both were very soft against my skin and even the flannel topped pads are softer than their paper & plastic disposable counterparts.
I would have expected fabric to feel softer than paper, but I wasn't prepared for their size. I was amazed that they aren't bulky at all. Even my heavy-duty cloth pads are thinner than a comparable disposable pad. How is that even possible? I have no idea, but I like it!
I have two, actually three, clear favorites of all the sellers from whom I purchased mama cloth. If you might be interested in purchasing or pricing mama cloth, click the links to go to the seller's Etsy shop.
For a liner, I just love these pretty offerings. I purchased three flannel-topped (would have preferred velour, but it wasn't available) liners to use as a back up with the Diva Cup. I picked a solid black top and a red & black swirl pattern on the wings and they are almost too pretty to use. Almost. They aren't really absorbent, but they will save your britches if you have any Cup or tampon leakage. The liners are somewhat short, but since it's just a back up you probably don't need a lot of coverage.
I picked up a few pads from Blossom Pads for moderate days. You have your choice of length, top fabric (flannel or velour), and the level of absorbency you desire. I chose velour-topped and fleece backed for breathability - don't want things getting too hot down there! I regret that I went with moderate absorbency as I'd like to see just how their heavy pads perform against my favorites, which are:
My absolute favorites are the absorbent pads from Mother Moon Pads. I purchased a couple of velour-topped pads that have a core made of Zorb (a material that offers awesome absorbency) and terry with a back of breathable fleece. These pads are just ridiculously soft and unbelievably comfortable. They are so wonderful that I wish that every woman could try these pads just once to experience a truly comfortable period. They aren't the prettiest pads in my stash, that distinction goes to the pads above, but these are the pads that I'll measure all other pads against because they handled my heaviest flow - even overnight!
Also represented in my stash are a couple flannel topped "regular" and "heavy" pads. I'm just not crazy about how the flannel feels in comparison to velour, but it's still far more comfortable than a traditional disposable pad. Additionally, I have one or two pads with a layer of PUL to prevent leaks. I'd rather change the pad more frequently and take a chance with leaks than have a layer of PUL in my pad because I find it somewhat hot.
I was even able to venture from the house for a few hours without fear on my heavy day by using the Cup with a Mother Moon Pad as back up. Hooray for this new freedom!
I purchased the mama cloth to handle my heavy day and I think I have a winning formula with the Diva Cup on most days of my cycle and the mama cloth on the super-heavy-why-does-my-vagina-hate-me day. However, I liked the mama cloth so much that I might just become a pad wearing kinda gal!
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Common Questions I've Been Asked About Mama Cloth
"Ew, I can't use a cloth menstrual pad! Isn't it gross to bleed on fabric?"
I didn't find it any more gross to bleed on a reusable menstrual pad than it is to bleed on a paper & plastic disposable menstrual pad. Let's face it, it's pretty gross no matter where you dump your uterine lining so you might as well save some money and be comfortable while doing it.
"Save money? Aren't cloth pads pretty expensive?"
The initial cost for switching is higher, but the savings quickly add up because you aren't spending money every month on a product that just ends up thrown in the garbage. Depending on your flow (how often you used to purchase pads), your return on investment may only be a couple of months. Remember that you can reuse these pads for many, many years and, if you wash on the gentle cycle & line dry them, they'll last even longer.
"I don't think that I want to go 100% cloth so why should I bother?"
There is no need to treat this as an all or nothing situation. Purchase one or two cloth pads and see how you like them. My advice is to use them at first when you know you'll be at home for a few hours. I'll bet that you'll be sold on how comfortable they are and you'll want to switch over once you try them out.
"I normally wear tampons. How bulky are these pads?"
I used to use tampons, but I've used the Diva Cup since around February and I'd suggest that the Cup would be a better option for tampon users. The Cup is a remarkably better than tampons. However, these pads are less bulky than their disposable counterparts. There is no "wearing a diaper to manage your period" feeling at all.
"Don't cloth pads feel gross?"
No, they actually feel really comfy. I haven't worn pads regularly in over 20-years and I was pretty sure that mama cloth would suck, but these are extremely pleasant to wear. Imagine your most comfortable panties, but even more comfortable. Seriously, I can't stress enough just how comfortable these pads feel against your skin! Try it once and I'm sure you'll be sold too!
"What do you do with those nasty pads?"
I just looped a drawstring wetbag over the door knob of the door in my master bathroom. No odors, no muss, no fuss. I was actually surprised at how easy and unobtrusive it was to deal with the pads before washing them.
"What do you do with the pads if you're out?"
Good question. I'm a SAHM so I have a lot of flexibility about when I go out, but I generally use my Diva Cup when away from home. You can purchase a wetbags specifically designed for dealing with soiled mama cloth or you can just store them in a Ziploc bag until you get home.
"Won't everyone know you're using these cloth pads?"
Not unless you tell them. Or, uh, if you blog about it! There are no crinkly plastic parts or wrappers so I think they are even more discreet than any disposable products, tampons or pads.
"How can you just wash & reuse those cloth pads?"
Pretty easily actually. I wash on cold with a double rinse and toss them in the dryer. If that sounds too horrible to handle, I want to know if you throw away all underpants on which you accidentally bleed? No, you probably just toss them in the wash and hope for no staining. The same thing applies with mama cloth.
"Staining! Those pads probably look horrible after coming out of the wash!"
No, not really. I specifically chose dark top fabric (solids and busy prints) to disguise any staining. However, I have two pads that are pastels. . .a spritz of Soilove before washing and a little sunshine before drying took care of any staining that may have occurred.
Thanks to my blogging, I've had several friends ask me about the Diva Cup and mama cloth options. I hope that this post has been helpful to those friends in particular, but do let me know if you have any questions or concerns that haven't been addressed and I'll be happy to help.
A happy period? It's more likely than you might think!