Menstruation Part IV: Cloth Pads


Cloth Pad photos courtesy of Glad Rags

As I mentioned, my first fore into the alternative menstrual product world was with cloth pads, a.k.a. "rags," "Moon Rags," "Mama Cloth," "lochia landing strips" (for the post-partum among us) and so on and so forth. Basically, they are all the same thing, menstrual "napkins" made from cloth that are worn inside the underwear during menstruation to catch and absorb the menstrual flow.

Many women are first introduced to the idea of cloth pads via their exposure to cloth diapers. For an article I wrote about that, please click here. It's not that big of a mental leap. You cloth diaper your baby. The cloth diapers work well and are a superb financial investment. You are dealing with the bodily fluids of urine and feces...why not add another (menstrual blood" to the mix?!

Or perhaps you are like a friend of mine who, after spending minutes going on and on about how wonderful it is that we are cloth diapering our children, how environmentally responsible it is for Mother Earth, how smart it is financially and how one day she, too, would like to do that when, B"H she is blessed with children, was taken aback when I suggested that she could do just the same right now, even before babies came into the picture.

"How?"

"Cloth pads, of course."

"Ewwwww....."

It's strange, because, personally, the idea of touching poop, pee and vomit belonging to another person has a greater "ewww" factor for me than touching my own menstrual blood. But there you have it. "Ewwww..."

I think this goes right back to our ideas about women. Why they should look and smell perfumed and sterile when they are menstruating and why their tampons and pads must be "sterile white" appearing (though they most certainly are not sterile!) But I digress...

Some of us were introduced to cloth pads when we were diagnosed with a women's health "disease." Or when it became clear that the pain we were experiencing during our periods precluded using an internal menstrual product.

Disposable Pads
There are lots of reasons that ladies prefer pads. They have those nifty wings that provide coverage on the sides and wrap around your underwear. They have a super absorbent pad that sits directly against your skin. You can change them frequently without too much of a hassle. In a word, pads are gentle, non-invasive and pretty darn convenient.

And cloth pads are no exception. In the 16 years that I have used cloth, I don't think that I have ever had a leak on to my underwear or my clothes. Cloth pads typically have "wings" that attach (with a snap or even velcro), just like a disposable pad. Because of the friction of cloth against your cloth underwear (and with the additional help of the wings), they have no problem staying in place.


Glad Rags Overnight Pad
Cloth pads also come in many sizes. Typically they are made in an "overnight" or "postpartum" large size, a medium "day pad" size and a panty liner. There are all sorts of variations. Cloth pads are made by all sorts of people, from major companies to work at home mothers (WAHM) running a cloth pad business. You can even make them yourself! Cloth pads come in many different of systems, as well. You can get "all in one" pads, which are just one piece, with a super absorbent material (such as hemp) sewn into the inside of the pad. Or a "pocket" pad (for those who cloth diaper, you will notice the familiar terminology), which is an absorbent pad with one or more inserts that can be removed for easier cleaning and quicker drying time and more control over absorbency or even a system that includes a liner with wings that is worn all day that contains snaps. Each time you change your pad, you just snap off the top pad and snap in a new pad, without ever having to change the liner. This means that the wings will always be in the proper position without having to realign the pad. Cloth pads are also made of a variety of materials, colors and designs. Some prefer micro fleece, some organic 100% cotton, some will only use hemp, some like plain unbleached or organic solid prints and colors, some will opt for bright colors and patterns. There seems to be a cloth pad on the market for every possible preference.

Cloth pads can last for years. I still use the first cloth pad I ever bought, made by a well-known company called Glad Rags, 16 years later. There are no signs of staining and the pad is still going strong. I can't say that about every cloth pad company. Glad Rags certainly win the "work horses" award, in my book, though there are many completely valid and viable options. And I have been very happy with a couple of companies in particular.

Glad Rags Bucket Kit
The thing about cloth pads is that you need to take care of them. If you take care of them, they will take care of you. In exchange for the feeling of sitting on a soft, comfy, super slim pillow, I make sure to rinse out my cloth pads after every use. If I'm in a public restroom, I put the pad into a waterproof bag (most cloth pad companies sell them or you can make your own) and then carry it home to put it under running water, ringing out the blood into the sink (or shower) until the water runs clear. Some suggest soaking the pads in water until you are ready to wash, and using the mineral rich menstrual blood filled water to water plants or herbs in the garden. I used to do this myself and will again, when I don't have curious little hands about. Washing cloth pads is a breeze! Pop them into the washing machine with a tiny bit of soap (much like cloth diapers, power soap in small amounts works best) with a drop or two of tea tree oil (to eradicate potential smells and disinfect the pads) and hang to dry or toss in the dryer. The load is small, so you aren't using much water, and they dry very quickly, particularly if you are using pads with inserts or that some in multiple parts.

Many mothers I know will wash their cloth pads in the same load as cloth diapers or even toss in well soaked or rinsed cloth pads with the regular laundry. In this case, you might want to do an extra rinse. Of course, cloth pads can also be washed by hand.

It is easy to transition to cloth pads. Simply purchase one and try it out. Toss it in the laundry with your other clothes and get a feel for what a difference cloth makes. Then buy another and slowly but surely, your cloth pad "stash" will begin to grow. I noticed an end to my period pain when I was using only cloth for a few days in a row.

And now, I'd like to announce another Menstruation Madness Giveaway, sponsored by one of my very favorites: Glad Rags!

Glad Rags has very generously offered to send a color cloth pad sample kit, created espically for Wise Woman Fertility readers, consisting of: one overnight pad, one day pad and one panty liner. This giveaway is open to all Wise Woman Fertility readers, internationally!

Registering to win is simple!

1.) First you must be a follower of Wise Woman on facebook
2.) Second, follow the Wise Woman blog by clicking "follow" underneith this post.

You will receive an additional bonus entry by sharing this link on your facebook, my space, blog, twitter or other pages. This just in: Get a second bonus entry for liking Glad Rags on Facebook!

3.) Leave a comment here letting me know that you are a follower on both facebook and the blog (and where you shared the link, for your bonus entry). And let me know what YOU would like to know more about related to menstruation! :)

One winner will be chosen at random (using http://www.random.org/) on March 15 , 2011.

Our deepest thanks to Glad Rags for sponsoring this giveaway and for donating a copy of Menstruation Sensation to Wise Woman Fertility and a day pad to the "Wise Daughters" and public speaking programs.

And as always thanks to you, the Wise Woman readers for entering the giveaway.

Good luck!

64 comments:

Heathen Family said...

I am a follower of the blog and I like it on fb! I will also post this to fb. Thanks!

Marya said...

Followed and Liked! Thanks for your informative posts and for holding these giveaways!

Amanda said...

I liked you on Facebook.

Ashley said...

I follow ww in fb :)

mariesimone said...

I follow you (almost religiously) on facebook and blogspot. I have shared the general link to your page on my facebook once, reposted an article written on your blog on my facebook once, and shared the link with a friend who has infertility issues. Count me in, cous!

Love,
Marie

bruce kelly hein said...

I am a follower of the blog and I like it on fb! I will also post this to fb.

Danielle said...

I'm a follower and I liked on FB

Danielle said...

http://homemadehomegrown.blogspot.com/2011/03/wise-woman-fertility-menstruation-part.html

I blogged about it! Or linked to the give away!

sticpixie said...

I am a follower and Liked (love) on facebook

Chavelamomela said...

I'm a follower here and a fan on Facebook. I'm sharing this on FB too.

Emily said...

I am a follower here and like on FB. Posted entry in my blog:
http://flowingwithmyducklings.blogspot.com/2011/03/cloth-pad-giveaway.html

Thanks!

danikent said...

Liked on FB, followed blog and reposted link on twitter :)

Ahava said...

I have liked you on FB and am a follower of your blog.

yysmom said...

like on facebook and follow blog
chefsteph82@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I am a follower of your FB page and of your blog!

twinum said...

Just signed up on FB, and reposted on twitter. I'd follow your blog, but I'm not sure how to....please help.

HEYRUNT said...

Follow blog & Facebook. Shared on Facebook & Twitter. :-)

jahughes8 said...

I am a follower of the blog, on FB and posted this on my Twitter!

Michelle said...

Hi, I'm Michelle. I follow your blog plus liked you on Facebook. I would love to win this awesome GladRags package. I tell my friends and family about how 'wise' it is to make the switch to cloth pads for themselves and the environment! :)

Zucchini Breath said...

I liked on facebook (judith vegan barnes) and followed this blog. Good luck ladies!
Good job helping spread the word about alternative menstrual products

Alicia said...

I have liked you on Facebook and I am a follower here on the blog. I am a cloth diaper mom and am really interested into using cloth pads. I am most familiar with GladRags, but do not yet own any cloth menstruation products. This giveaway is great. Thank you for doing this and putting the information out there for people like me.

phoebe said...

I like you on fb. Im following the blog and i reposted on facebook. Would love to hear more about sea sponges.

Aviva said...

I'm a follower here and on FB.

isha said...

Following on FB/Blog shared on FB. Id like to know more about natural remedies of relieving menstrual cramps (severe ones) with out pills or having to buy expensive herbs.

boycatsrock46 said...

I just liked you on Facebook and am a follower of your blog.

Carla said...

liked you on facebook!

Carla Schmidt Holloway

Carla said...

following the blog!

Carla said...

posted the link on facebook!

Carla said...

posted the link on Twitter!

@LifeasaReader

Christy said...

I follow you on FB & the blog. Enjoyed reading this post, informative! Really could use the sample pack give away! Thanks!

Kim xx said...

I am a liker on FB, I follow your blog, and I have shared the link with all my family and friends via my personal FB page :D Have also spread the word on my parenting forums :D

Medicine Woman said...

Isha, click on "blog archives" I recommend some amazing books (which are all listed in the Amazon Carousel at the bottom of every page)that are a good place to start and there is also some fantastic information in the other blogs on the Menstruation Series. Check it out. I'm also available for private consultation for these issues, as well. :)

Medicine Woman said...

Phoebe,

I'm reluctant to devote much time to things I do not recommend. Sea sponges are animals and therefore not recommended by Wise Woman for use as a menstrual product. Please see the other articles in the menstruation series under the tab at the top of the page titled "blog archives" for more alternatives. Wise Woman Fertility endorses the menstrual cup as the best internal menstrual product on the market. And of course cloth pads are the best external menstrual product. This is both from a health and ecological standpoint.

Thank you for writing in.

And thanks to everyone for the positive feedback about the blogs. They are a pleasure to write! :)

Brandi said...

I'm a follower and I "like" you on FB. I'd love to know more about the link between menstrual pain & disposable pads/tampons. This is a very interesting post!

Melanie said...

I like both pages and have shared the giveaway on my FB page! (Melanie Paige)

Thank you for the chance to win.

instinctmama said...

Liking you on FB, following the blog and of course sharing all this with the women I love!

b6f05dbe-4993-11e0-aada-000bcdcb471e said...

I am now a follower on facebook and on your blog also I clicked like on facebook. I have actually researched all of this a lot, I also plan on getting a diva cup too. I read an article almost a year ago in Mothering magazine and all the harmful things found in pads and tampons and I love the personalization in these pads it's neat. Up until today I didn't need a reason for anything like this because I have been Breastfeeding and had no period but one week shy of 22 months and I am ready for better things now! Thank you for making things like this available to women everywhere!

K-Mak said...

I already like Glad Rags on fb and I have liked Wise Woman Fertility's fb page and I now follow the blog.

I have linked both Wise Woman Fertility and Glad Rags in my fb post sharing this giveaway.

I am building up my cloth stash- I just made the switch and I LOVE IT! I will never go back now. Thank you so much for this opportunity!

Medicine Woman said...

Brandi,

Sure, just have a look at the other blog posts in the menstruation series. You can access this by clicking on the "blog archives" tab at the top of the page. :) Enjoy!

Emily Marie said...

Just found your blog via GladRags on facebook. Now I like you on facebook too and am following your blog as of today. I haven't read your archives yet, but I'm interested in learning more about perimenopause and erratic cycles.
I'll post this link on my facebook page; however my friends seem to shy away from GladRags, cups, menstruation. Unfortunate for them.
Glad to be here!

Anonymous said...

I shared & liked :)
thanks for the chance to win <3

Jennifer Campbell Rubiroocreations@hotmail.com said...

I liked & shared :)
Thanks for the chance to win <3

Sarah Eliza said...

Hello! I would love to win some cloth pads, as I use a menstrual cup and would like to change it up occasionally.

I liked gladrags and your page on facebook. I'm following your blog and I posted about this contest on my blog:
http://wisewomanfertility.blogspot.com/2011/03/menstruation-part-iv-cloth-pads.html

I would like to know why hormonal birth control can cause some women to bleed continuously while they are adjusting to the hormones. Thanks!

Randi K. said...

I follow this blog and like you on FB

Sarah Eliza said...

oops! I posted the wrong link for my blog.

http://whimaway.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/win-free-cloth-pads/

lace said...

I'm following your blog and also liked you on facebook.

I'd like to learn more about different kinds of cloth pads and the best way to care for them. I haven't tried cloth yet but I've been looking into them.

Medicine Woman said...

Emily Marie: Glad you enjoyed! :)
Lace: I believe that your questions should be answered in this very blog post. :) Might be worth another read.

Northern Lights said...

Hi! I follow your blog, like Wise Woman on FB, like GladRags on FB, and will share this link!
Thanks so much for all the info!

sabofamily said...

I am a follower of the blog and I like it on fb! I will also post this to fb. Thanks!

Adina Altschuler Kopinsky said...

A follower on FB and now on the blog. I spent my teenage years suffering from terrible menstrual cramps. I wish I had known that cloth could help me with that, but I had never even heard of the option! Now I'm ecologically nursing my 11 month old and am blissfully period-free. But when they come back I'm going to invest in a diva cup and cloth pads for sure! I'd like to know what sort of sustainable option you recommend for post-partum bleeding?

Medicine Woman said...

Adina,

I'm sorry to hear of your struggles during your teenage years (though I can certainly empathize) and am thrilled that you are not only getting a break from this but are also BREASTFEEDING YOUR BABY!!!!

Breastfeeding is an issue near and dear to my heart (see "blog archives" tab at the top of the page for my past blog on breastfeeding) and I feel a special glow and camaraderie with other Wise Women who have made this fantastic choice.

I want to respond to your question regarding post-partum bleeding. First and formost, I do NOT recommend a menstrual cup for this time, nor any internal menstrual product for that matter. While the cervical os is going back down to size, the possibility of infection is immense. It is absolutely best to use cloth pads during this time. Gladrags makes an "overnight/postpartum" pad (which will be part of their giveaway kit to our readers) which would be completely appropriate (I've used it myself through three, seperate, post partum periods), but just about any company that makes cloth pads will also make an "overnight" option which is usually sufficient for post partum flow. It is best to ask each individual company first, though, whether or not they feel that their overnight pad is sufficient protection. Some women have even taken two "day/regular" size pads and put them one in front of the other in their underwear in a pinch. Just make sure that the pad ends are overlapping.

In Heath and Blessing,
J. Rivkah

Mar-y-Sol said...

Follow
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Share
Like
Question: why do some women get migraines prior or during menstruation?

Anonymous said...

I follow blog and husband likes you and gladrags on facebook. (I dont connect myself) hope he doesnt get too upset and that his friends can understand! thanks, shoshi blustein

Roxanne Breton said...

I like Wise Woman on Facebook
I follow the Wise Woman blog
I shared this link on my facebook profile
I like Glad Rags on Facebook!

I would like to know more about what happens each day after ovulation.
I would also like to know how acupuncture works in fertility (I started going and went from a 40 day PCOS cycle to 32-33 days!)

Medicine Woman said...

Marysol,

Thanks for your question. Migranes can be caused by the sudden drop in hormones that occurs at the time of menstruation. But they can also be caused by any hormone shift or surge. As always, all women respond differently.

Nichole said...

1) I like Wise Woman on Facebook 2) I follow the Wise Woman blog
extra) I shared this link on my facebook profile
extra) I like Glad Rags on Facebook

*I can't think of any questions right now, but just learned about these eco-friendly products and love them!

lilianashellover said...

I am following your blog
I liked your page on facebook
I liked gladrags on facebook
I posted a link to your blog on my facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000851074531

Thanks for the giveaway! After being told that tampons were the source of my endometriosis, I got some GladRags, but had to throw them away 5 years ago when I had a miscarriage because I couldn't get the smell of death out of them no matter how I cleaned them. I haven't been able to afford to buy new ones since (got the first ones on clearance, and my grandma paid for half of my order), but thankfully my flow hasn't been as heavy since, and I am now pregnant with a healthy baby, so I won't need them for a few months since I too plan to breastfeed. I wish I had some to use as postpartum pads though. GladRags are definitely the best! I am hoping to get some of their nursing pads too. I found your blog through GladRags facebook page too!

Miriam said...

I follow you on facebook and in person :) I also liked glad rags -- :)

Laura Jane said...

New to your blog (and now following!) but a longtime user of GladRags.
Looking forward to enjoying the archives while waiting for new posts. Thank you so much for being a resource!

Julisuz said...

Follow both and reposted on facebook!!

Katie said...

Following you on facebook. I hope I win:) I'm going to try and share this on fb... On an iPod not sure how:)

Sheree said...

I follow you and Glad Rags on FB
I am a follower of your blog
I shared about this giveaway on my FB page

I think most of my questions have already been asked and answered :D

Marya said...

I also liked GladRags on FB!

Medicine Woman said...

And the winner is....
Roxanne Brenton! Roxanne, you have 1 week to claim your prize. If you do not respond within a week, a new winner will be drawn. I can be reached at wisewomanfertility@gmail.com.

And I just noticed your question regarding post ovulation. Please have a look at the blog post Menstruation for Dummies which can be found under the "blog archive" tab or on the Glad Rags website/blog. This details what happens post ovulation. Also, regarding acupunture. I am not an acupuncturist, but I can say that many acupuncturists try to "unblock" stagnant energy in the reproductive area, and once the energy gets flowing again, this can change the cycles and overall health of the woman who is being treated.