According to the last data I saw on this subject U.S. women landfill or incinerate 11.3 billion disposable menstrual products per year.
What many people are not aware of is that reusable menstrual products are not just better for the planet but also are more comfortable to wear. Many women report shorter, milder periods once they discontinue the use of disposable menstrual products that have been bleached and contain synthetic gelling crystals.
In fact that’s how I came to use cloth pads. Six years ago shortly before my son, Duncan, was born I had collected a nice stash of cloth diapers for him. Duncan was our first child and much research went into how we wanted to welcome him into this world (he was born at home with midwives), how we wanted to raise him (practice attachment parenting) and what products we would want to use (environmentally friendly and safe for his body).
Duncan was born at home and while the birth was the wonderful experience we had been hoping for, the recovery was anything but. I had a small tear. Nothing major.
Duncan was a big baby at 23 inches and nearly 10 pounds. He was nursing for 45 minutes at a time with little breaks in between. We were still practicing our latch on so nursing laying down wasn’t yet an option.
Sitting up was extremely painful though. I felt like the wimpiest new mother in the world. How could others give birth and immediately go back to normal activities when I was barely able to sit to nurse my child?
Then one day I decided to use the inserts I had made for Duncan (to protect his cloth diapers from meconium stains in the early days) as menstrual pads.
The difference was immediately noticeable. I felt so much better. The soreness was gone. It was fantastic.
For the next birth – my daughter, Annika – I used cloth pads exclusively and was finally able to really enjoy my babymoon, be back to normal activities within hours of her birth and not be miserable for weeks like I was after my first birth. It was so much more enjoyable!
I wish I had known that much of my postpartum discomfort after my first child was due to a sensitivity to the drying/gelling crystals in disposable menstrual products. I could have spared myself weeks of misery.
A lot of times when I tell people what I do for a living they view me as ueber-crunchy. How crazy do you have to be to want to wash and reuse menstrual pads? Sure they like to recycle and compost but having to deal with menstrual products is just a little more than what they want to to for the environment. In my opinion it’s very possible that cloth pads are one of those ‘green’ things that makes your life easier and more comfortable though – just the opposite of the sacrifice people expect it to be.
How did you become interested in cloth pads?