Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mama cloth: what, why, and how!

We added reusable menstrual products to our store a couple of years ago, and like cloth diapers, we field a lot of questions about them. Recently, I've had a couple of suggestions from both staff and customers that I blog about them, so here you go!

If you're asking 'why should I switch', if you're using cloth diapers, you're probably familiar with the reasons -- the same benefits apply to both reusable feminine products and reusable diapers:

In terms of options, cloth pads are a reusable alternative to disposable pads. We stock Lunapads, a system comprised of three items:

  • pantyliners - used alone, pantyliners are ideal for daily discharge or very light menstrual flow, and are popular as backup protection for menstrual cups, like The DivaCup. Need a cloth diaper reference? A pantyliner is like an all-in-one diaper, absorbent and waterproof.
  • pads -- a waterproof pad with wings that fastens around the gusset of your underwear. Need a cloth diaper reference? A pad is like a diaper cover - it contains the blood, preventing leaks through your underwear.
  • liners -- comprised of 2 layers of highly absorbent cotton, liners absorb the majority of your menstrual flow, leaving the Pad base relatively clean and dry. Need a cloth diaper reference? A liner is like a prefold or a fitted diaper -- it absorbs the blood.

A single pad will get you through a whole day; you just change the liner when you need to. The pads and liners come in different sizes that accommodate light to heavy bleeding -- you simply buy liners that suit your menstrual cycle.

If you prefer to use tampons, a menstrual cup is a reusable option to tampons. A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped cup that is worn internally to collect blood flow. It is emptied several times a day, as needed. We sell the Diva Cup (only in size 2, required after pregnancy), a silicone cup that is latex-free, BPA-free, and plastic-free. A menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, it is safe for overnight use.

So, you want to know what I think? First, off, I'm going to admit I've not had much experience with them. In the past ten years, I've had (brace yourself!) two (two!) menstrual cycles, not by choice, but due to the fact I've been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. I have made the switch to using cloth pads, and I've used them post-partum for two babies, so I can tell you about that. First of all, it's not gross (I know that's probably what most people assume). The pads do not smell -- due in part to the fact they are more breathable than disposable pads, due in part to the fact they're not scented with masking chemicals. The cotton pads are far more comfortable than stiff paper pads, and they are less likely to leak because cotton absorbs faster than paper.

I have never used a menstrual cup, though I have friends that do. From what I've been told, it's something that requires a little practice to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, the cup is so comfortable you won't know it's there.

In terms of washing cloth pads, I just store and wash them with our cloth diapers, so it's really no more work for me. When you're out and about, you can store use a wetbag to store soiled pads. If you check the Lunapads care & instructions, you'll see that even if you don't use cloth diapers, caring for cloth menstrual pads amounts to little more than a simple load of laundry.

So there you have it -- using reusuable feminine products is really no different than using reusable cloth diapers, in terms of reasons and results. If you're considering giving Lunapads or the Diva Cup a whirl, you can use coupon code MAMACLOTH until October 15th to save 10% on the Lunapads Intro package or a Diva Cup. Offer valid online and instore, cannot be combined with offers or discounts.


  1. I have used a menstrual cup for at least 5 years, and I LOVE it. I recommend it to any woman who typically uses tampons. I almost never have to deal with my period anywhere other than home because the Diva Cup can be left in for 12 hrs. Another advantage, not listed here, is that you become aware of the colour/texture/consistency/odour of your menstrual discharge and may, therefore, be able to identify a health issue earlier than you would otherwise.

  2. I used the Divacup before I was pregnant and loved it! Just slip it in in the morning and off to work. No need to bring a purse to the bathroom all day. I hated using pads at night too, and with the cup I didn't need to. I never had a leak. I would highly recommend it.

  3. I am also a DivsCup lover. I also use the cloth pads. I like having options. I love both – Lunapads are great!

  4. Amen to Diva Cup! It's brilliant, comfy, clean, waste-less, and easy. SO much easier than pads & tampons, SO much more comfortable, and makes your period SO much more pleasant! I am a runner, and have used it on short runs, long runs, interval runs, the bike, weight training, yoga.. you name it, it stays in, stays comfy, and does its job!

  5. I suffer endometriosis, which had symptoms such as extreme cramping and heavy, long cycles. I never did like using pads, so going to cloth wasn't an option I considered for myself. Switching to the Diva Cup was amazing. It took a few months to get the hang of it, but alleviated cramping by a good 40% and made the heavy flow much easier to manage.

    If I ever have a girl, I will absolutely be offering her one of these from day 1. They're more comfortable, better for the environment, and safer -- chance of developing TSS with a reusable cup is extremely low!