Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Re-Usable Menstrual Pads - My Journey

I am going to talk about re-usable menstrual pads, also know as: R.U.M.P.S., Mama Cloth, and Cloth Pads.

*You have now been fairly warned.*

My journey to cloth reusable menstrual pads began with my journey from Kleenexes to cloth tissues. My nose and upper lip always get so raw when I use paper tissues. I just avoid tissues as much as possible.
When I was a child my mother gave us burp rags to use, when we had colds, to blow our noses on. I never remember getting a raw nose from using those old burp rags, which were actually cloth diapers, I just didn't know that at the time because we called them burp rags. Remembering this about my childhood, I cut up a bunch of old t-shirts to use as tissues.
 I loved them! I didn't get any raw skin that winter. I could blow my nose all I wanted and not have any soreness. I also didn't have to run to the store to buy more Kleenexes when I "ran out". I just had to wash my cloth tissues and they were ready to use again. I didn't mind washing them out. Most of the time they come clean in a regular load of clothes, but during a really bad sinus infection I have had to soak them and scrub them first.
I rarely use paper tissues any more. I always have a cloth rag close by. I don't leave home with out one. :)
Cloth Kleenexes progressed into cloth napkins, and cloth un-paper towels. Let me be clear, we still buy paper towels, I just don't use them often. Anything I would have formally grabbed a paper towel for, I just started grabbing a rag for instead. It made so much sense and it felt good. Why throw something away when you can reuse it? Save money, save time shopping, save stress over worrying about "running out", save resources (if you are concerned about that kind of thing), save chlorine, and, who knows what other chemicals, from being rubbed against, and absorbed by your skin.

The next leg in my reusable journey was becoming a cloth diapering mama.
When I found out that I was pregnant with our baby I seriously wanted to use cloth diapers. I was interested in cloth diapering for all the reasons that are most commonly listed, but the main reason I wanted to cloth diaper my baby was because cloth diapering is old fashioned. I wanted my mothering experience to mimic that of my foremothers.  I wanted to know that I was just as capable and strong as the women that had gone before me. I spent hours upon hours watching modern cloth diapering mamas on YouTube explain their systems and go through their 'stashes'. I listened to reviews of different cloth diapering products, reviews of different cloth diapering methods, discussions about the best detergents. I learned all the terms. I worked on putting together my 'stash'.
When my baby came I was excited about cloth diapering and, also, nervous. I felt intimidated and wondered if I would be able to last. I didn't want to quit after the first month because it was too hard for me.
I passed the test that I had made for myself. I really enjoyed my cloth diapering experience! Everything I thought I would enjoy about cloth diapering I did enjoy about cloth diapering. I had not been too romantic for reality. I learned that I didn't have to be Super Woman to be a cloth diapering mama. I was just a normal person who chose to use cloth diapers for my baby.

Then, I became a normal person who chose to use cloth wipes for my baby, along with cloth diapers. Using cloth wipes was actually a decision made purely out of convenience. One of the worst parts about rinsing out my baby's cloth diapers was picking all the soggy, nasty, disposable wipes out of the water and wringing them out and having to take the dripping mess to a trash can. Eww. And, so inconvenient.
My cloth Kleenexes worked well for cloth diaper wipes. And, little Terry cloth, baby wash rags, worked really well for cloth diaper wipes. The nice part was that I could just roll them up in a soiled diaper, like normal, and wash them along with the diaper without any special treatment.

Now, we are getting to the main subject of this post.
Getting into cloth menstrual pads is a natural progression from using cloth diapers, which is where the term, Mama Cloth, comes from: the cloth diapering community. Whether you cloth diapered your baby for financial reasons, or environmental reasons, or health reasons, you start to look at other disposable products in your life and wonder how much they cost, or where they go after you throw them away, and what toxins they contain.
I sewed my first set of cloth pads last December (2015).
I have used them through 10 cycles. And, I love them.
The things I love most about my cloth pads are:

1. They are so comfortable! They don't feel like a diaper. They feel like an article of clothing. They are soft, plus, they are thin.

2. They don't have any plastic in or on them. Plastic is not something I want against my skin. I don't think it can be healthy, but regardless of the health concerns, plastic is not comfortable. It feels nasty, in my opinion.

3. They don't make any crunchy, raspy, noises when I "unwrap" them. Talk about embarrassing! I did not like having to use a public restroom and know that everyone else in there can hear me tearing off or opening up my feminine products.

4. They don't smell like garbage. I don't know what they put in disposable pads to make them smell so dreadfully gross, but my cloth pads do not smell like garbage.

5. They are pretty!
Don't you agree? If you don't, then you can use different material and make them pretty by your own standards. That is the beauty of cloth pads; you can customize and personalize them in innumerable ways.

6. They have made me much more in touch with my femininity. That may sound weird, but it's not that weird, it has actually been very good for me. By using cloth pads, I have eliminated so many unpleasant things about that time of the month. I love getting to use my cloth pads. I have learned more about how my body is designed. I can appreciate how well it works instead of complain about how it works, because going through a period is not dreadful anymore.

7. They work really well! I have never had an issue with how my cloth pads function. The capacity can be customized, based on what materials you construct your pads from and how many layers of absorbent material you use. I plan on writing a DIY post about how to make your own cloth pads from up-cycled fabrics.

8. They come clean! They can be washed in such a way that you will have almost no staining. When done properly, you should have absolutely no staining, whatsoever. And, it is not hard. Just two ingredients; a powdered hydrogen peroxide cleaner (oxyclean for example) and a bar of felsnaptha soap. I can give more details in a future post.

 That is how I came to use cloth pads and why I love them so much!

If you have any questions please don't be afraid to ask! Of course you can ask anonymously if that makes you more comfortable. :)

If you do YouTube, and, are interested in this kind of thing, I highly *recommend Amy Nix's channel. She has a lot of great information on cloth pads and cloth pad sewing tutorials. I feel like she addresses this topic in a respectful and intelligent way.

*This should go without saying, I don't agree with everything Amy says or believes. She has a lot of great information about cloth pads. You'll have to take that for what it's worth.


Haley Smith said...

Yay! Excited to see this post and look forward to the diy post. Still don't have a need for them but hoping to be prepared for when I do. I should work on gathering some cute remenants!

Sister in the Mid-west said...

Thank you for the comment, Haley! I am glad someone is interested in the DIY post. It will probably be a couple weeks before I am ready to publish that.

Ylva ChasingButterflies said...

Great idea!I don't use cloth pads (yet) because I'm not sure how to clean them or how much I'll need for one month, but I've got myself a menstrual cup made out of silicone and I really like it :)

Sister in the Mid-west said...

Hello Ylva! Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog!
I know a lot of people like to use cups. They sound like the lowest maintenance solution.
I may write a post talking about the cleaning process for cloth pads in the future.

Ylva ChasingButterflies said...

Now I bought some cloth pads :) although I only use them as panty liners. But they feel very good and comfortable - I even tend to forget that I wear one. With the non-reusable ones, I sometimes felt like I was wearing a diaper :D I like them.

Sister in the Mid-west said...

I am glad you like your cloth pads! I am getting really close to writing my series on making cloth pads ! I have been collecting materials and think I have enough now to give a demonstration! :)