We’ve talked nutrition and health. We’ve chatted up pregnancy and birth, and the various intimate details therein. I’ve shared about breastfeeding my toddler. We’ve even ventured into the subject of placentophagy (the act of consuming one’s placenta after birth – and yup, I did it).
Today I want to talk about another subject that has become near and dear to my (crunchy-mama) heart: cloth pads and alternative solutions for your menstrual cycle.
(Side note: I couldn’t decide what to title this post. Eco-friendly? Frugal? Healthier? Yes, yes, and yes. The great thing about this whole natural living journey is that those things often go hand-in-hand, which I love).
All of my life I’ve used the typical necessities for “that time of the month”: disposable pads and tampons. Then I started my natural living journey a few years ago, and began hearing bits and pieces about women using cloth pads. Being the crazy and natural crunchy mama that I am, my interest was immediately piqued.
Shortly after our first child was born in 2008, before my monthly cycle returned, I bought a diva cup on a bit of a whim. I used it and liked it, but was still using a fair amount of disposable pads for extra protection in case of leaks, for over nights, and for when I was out of the house for extended periods of time.
I looked into cloth pads a bit more and decided I’d really like to try them. However, the budget was too tight at the time, and I’ve only had a handful of cycles in the last 6 years due to breastfeeding and pregnancy, so it was never a financial priority. Then, at my blessing way while pregnant with Canaan, I was gifted with six homemade cloth pads from a very dear friend.
When he was born a year ago, I got to try them out for the first time. In the earlier weeks when my flow was heavier, I would soak them within a few hours. These particular pads don’t have a waterproof layer, so I didn’t wear them out of the house in those weeks, just in case. Then as my flow lightened considerably, I was eventually able to wear one all day and not have any issues.
Oh. My. Goodness. I just have to say: comfort and period are no longer banned from the same sentence. Rather than having plastic and petroleum-based materials filled with all kinds of toxic chemicals in *that* area, I can have soft flannel and cotton.
There are countless anecdotal accounts of women who turn away from the disposable stuff to alternative options such as the diva cup and cloth pads who report that their cramps are lessened and their bleeding is not as heavy. There are tons of testimonies for cramps that were debilitatingly severe and then all but disappeared after switching to cloth.
Things like disposable pads and tampons (and disposable diapers, too!) contain dioxins, which are chemicals that “are toxic and are usually a by-product of plastics and chlorinated products. Dioxin is the most deadly man made chemical, second in line to radioactive waste“. Tampons have also been linked to increased rates of endometriosis and other fertility problems (source).
Wash & Care
Washing is simple – I drop it into the diaper pail and it washes with the cloth diapers. Done. If I were to use them while out of the house I’d just take a little wet bag along. Once I no longer have kids in diapers, I’ll probably have a much larger stash so that I can go longer between washing, and just do a little mini-load. It seems pretty easy to me. I also have friends who are perfectly ok with throwing them in with regular laundry.
Cloth pads are available in so many places now – there are entire companies devoted to making them, and there are scores of like-minded mamas making and selling them on places like Etsy.
Some women also use a natural sea sponge intended for menstrual care. Between that, the Diva Cup (plus other brands of the same idea), and all kinds of cloth pads, there are more than enough options that are healthier, more frugal, and more environmentally friendly.
My baby is almost 13 months now, and I am expecting my cycle to return any time now, if it follows the pattern of my first two kiddos. (I was going to warn you of TMI before I told you that, but I’m pretty sure we crossed that line approximately thirteen paragraphs ago).
I am considering making a shortlist of cloth pad companies and seeing if I can get one or two from each to try out, so I can report back to y’all some details and thoughts. Would this be something you’d be interested in reading at all? Which companies would you like me to try? Let me know in the comments below!
Have you ever tried a healthier option for menstrual care? Would you ever consider it?
(Edited & reposted from the archives: July 30, 2012)
I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.