Archive for the ‘Women's Health’ Category

Why Choose Cloth? Menstrual Pads for the Modern Woman

I wrote this blog post for Top To Bottom Baby Boutique earlier this year, but I’d like to share it with you, too.  I have used cloth menstrual pads for almost 4 years now, and began manufacturing and selling cloth menstrual pads in my Etsy shop three years ago.  This post stems from that.

So you love cloth – diapers, that is. Maybe you’ve switched to cloth kitchen towels, and cloth wipes, too. And now you’ve been thinking: if it’s good enough for my baby, maybe it’s good enough for me?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about cloth menstrual pads since I started selling Wee Essentials cloth menstrual pads on Etsy in 2008. Women worry a lot about how well they work, if they smell, and how to wash them. Many remember their grandmothers talking about wearing “rags” that leaked and were difficult and embarrassing to wash. And a surprising number confide in me that when their periods are over, they are left raw, red, and irritated in their most sensitive areas.

But there is a reason why most women who try cloth pads never go back: cloth is comfortable, easy, and actually a little fun! (Hey, you need something that will cheer you up when Aunt Flo comes!)

I’d like to answer some of the questions women have asked me, and explain some of the best benefits to using mama cloth!

  • · It’s comfortable. Disposable pads are made of paper and dehydrated cellulose (ie. Wood fibers!) That’s why they chafe and itch. It’s like wearing cardboard! Cloth pads are generally topped with natural fibers like cotton – just like your underwear.
  • · It’s pretty – okay, this probably isn’t the best reason, but I like it! It sounds silly, but it makes me smile a little when I choose a pretty pad. I need that when I get my period. It’s a whole lot better than bleached white paper!
  • · Yes, they are absorbent. And, yes, they will leak – only if you wear them too long. Just like any pad. But I can tell you this – in my memory, I’ve only had a cloth menstrual pad leak on me once, and it was because I didn’t want to get up to change.

Look for pads that contain a bamboo or hemp core – they are some of the most absorbent natural fibers available.     Bamboo and  hemp hold a great deal more than a cotton core, so they are worth the additional cost. You can also buy    menstrual pads with or without a waterproof layer. Wee Essentials pads typically use PUL, which is the same waterproof barrier used in many cloth diapers. I’ve also made my pads with polyester fleece or with no waterproof barrier at all for customers.

  • · No, they don’t usually smell. That menstrual blood smell comes from bacteria from your body multiplying in your pad. I don’t honestly know why cloth pads smell less, but I do theorize that the plastic in the disposable pads raises the temperature of the blood more than cloth pads does and allows the germs to multiply faster.
  • · They are easy to care for: if you don’t like stains, rinse them after you use them with cold water. (Hot water will set the stain – it literally cooks the proteins in your blood and removing that is kind of like removing last night’s burned lasagna from the pan…)

If you are like me and don’t care too much about stains, you can throw them in a dry pail until you are ready to wash.   They wash best when you wash them like diapers – a cold rinse, a hot wash, and another rinse. If you don’t use cloth  diapers, just throw them in with your towels and add a cold rinse beforehand. Most washers allow you to preset that now, so you don’t even have to come back after the rinse! You can tumble dry them on low in the dryer.

  • · They are designed by women, for women. Granted, the disposable pad companies have figured this out, too. Things like wings and easy-to-place designs help make your period a little easier. I also like that I don’t feel like I’m wearing a huge diaper!
  • · They save you money. Yes, the initial cost is much higher. $8 for a pack of disposables sounds a lot better than $8 for one cloth pad! But when you start to think about the cost per disposable, you’ll begin to see what I’m saying.

I went to drugstore.com today and looked at the cost-per-unit for Always and Kotex brand regular maxi pads with  wings. I found that prices ranged from 17 cents to 26 cents a pad. (For reference, that’s about what a brand-name disposable diaper costs!)

When you realize that you can use the same cloth pad several times during a cycle, you can see how quickly the  cloth pads will begin to pay for themselves. And that doesn’t even include the costs spent on medications…

  • · Anecdotal evidence suggests that cloth pads may actually reduce or stop yeast infections, vaginitis, and other irritations of your private areas. On several occasions I’ve had new customers complain of redness, soreness, or even raw skin after a week of using disposable menstrual pads. When they switched to cloth, they no longer had those symptoms – the disposables irritated their sensitive skin. Many people have told me they have had fewer yeast infections since changing to cloth (myself included – I don’t think I’ve had one since I switched, and I used to have one nearly every month!)
  • · Oh, and the most obvious one: Cloth pads are more environmentally friendly than disposables. All but the waterproof or water resistant layer and any plastic snaps can be composted or burned, rather than wrapped in a plastic wrapper, thrown into a plastic trash bag, and then into a landfill. Also, cloth pads don’t require a separate wash, and they are small, so they can be thrown in with any load of laundry – no extra water or soap is required!

 

I would love to answer any other questions you may have about cloth pads. Please feel free to post questions or comments here, or to email me at weeessentials.com or on Etsy with your questions if you aren’t comfortable asking them here. Don’t worry – I am not easily embarrassed!

Although I am a cloth pad maker and seller, my main goal is to introduce women to cloth – even if you buy elsewhere! (Though, of course, I do hope you will buy the Wee Essentials brand!) I’m delighted to be able to pamper the mamas with cloth just as much as the babies!

Ewwww?

Just over four years ago, I discovered cloth.  We were broke with an 18 month old, and I was trying to save money.  It wasn’t too long after that, I discovered cloth menstrual pads and nursing pads.  But if you had told me four years ago that most of the disposable paper products in my life would be gone I would have looked at you sideways!  And here I am, not only using them, but selling them!

Set of 4 Light Flow Pads by Wee Essentials

Set of 4 Light Flow Pads by Wee Essentials

I get to talk to a lot of people about my business.  When people ask what I do, the reaction is pretty fascinating when I say, “I make reusable menstrual pads!”  Most of the time, women (and men, too) listen enthusiastically and ask me lots of questions.

It’s a little disarming when it’s the men asking these questions.

Regardless of their gender, I explain flows, absorbency levels, comfort, and – most often – how I wash my pads.  Washing them has a particular level of intrigue.

Occasionally, though, I run into people, who, for one reason or another find the idea of mama cloth fantastically gross.  Often, these women are not comfortable with their bodies or their flow, or don’t have any problem putting poop or vomit or greasy clothes in their washer, but don’t understand how something with blood could ever get clean.  I don’t mean it to sound like I’m criticizing them; these are genuine arguments I heard from two women from my mom’s group.

Obviously, these women were not ready to switch, and not really even ready to try cloth.  And that’s okay.  We win them over one-by-one!  But it got me thinking again about the different arguments people have against cloth, and how to respond to those anti-cloth arguments. I know if I could get them to try cloth, they would switch!  After all, someone convinced me, and look where I am now!

Flu 101 – How to keep healthy and treat sickness naturally

This has been posted all over the internet with the arrival of flu season and the dreaded H1N1, but I feel it bears repeating with a slightly different bent.  I say this as I sit in the living room watching PBS with yet another sick child (a cold this time.)  It started with my father getting the flu, who promptly passed it on to 14 month old Thing Two.

Now Thing One is dealing with a cough and a sore throat, and told me he wanted to lay on the couch with his blankie and pillow instead of eating breakfast.  Apparently he’s not that sick, since I fell asleep on the couch, too, and he went up to the kitchen, pulled up a chair to the counter, climbed up to the counter, and got his Halloween candy off the top of the cabinets!  I woke up to the smell of Milk Duds and Charms pops.

So what are natural things you can do to keep healthy?

1. Wash, wash, wash your hands with regular soap.  If you are really concerned, you can use antibacterial, but really, it’s not proven to be any more effective than regular soap.  Make sure you wash your whole hand, fingers, fingernails and up your arms for at least 30 seconds.

2. Don’t touch your face.  Wash your hands before you do.  Many viruses are carried in respiratory vapors, but you can’t avoid breathing, so at least limited the vapors that get on your hands and then into your mouth or eyes.

3. Strengthen your immune response – use immune-strengthening herbs, minerals, and vitamins to help boost your immune system. There are many great teas that put many of these herbs and vitamins together in one tea bag.   Disclaimer: This doesn’t guarantee in any way that you won’t get sick, so don’t come back to me if you were taking Vitamin C and Echinachea and you still get sick!

 

What to do if a family member gets sick:

1. Wash, wash, wash – not only your hands, but the sick person’s bedding and clothing on hot.  They shouldn’t share any toweling.  And their toothbrush either needs to be santized (soaking it in hydrogen peroxide works well) or thrown out.  If you choose to sanitize, keep in mind that not only the bristles are contaminated, but the entire toothbrush head and possibly the handle.

2. Quarantine the person to minimize exposure to others.  They may have already contaminated the household before symptoms even appear (as in the case of H1N1) but it’s good to take precautions.

3. Make sure the sick person gets lots of fluids.  Chicken soup is an excellent choice for both nutrition and hydration (and some studies have shown that chicken may have some immune strengthening properties.)

4. And lots of sleep!

 

I’m obviously not a doctor in any way, shape, or form.  I’m just a mother who has dealt with the flu often enough, but I don’t consider myself an expert on the flu.  So make sure you check out what the Centers for Disease Control has to say about the flu.

 

WeeEssentials pads now on ClothPadShop!

Now you can shop for WeeEssentials menstrual pads and pantyliners in a new way!  I’m now selling on Clothpadshop.com, where you can buy pads from multiple sellers at one time, pay at once, and have them shipped from each seller.  It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to try out cloth –  the site includes more than just menstrual cloth – it also has nursing pads, wet bags, wipes, and more.

I’ve just finished up a large number of pads, so expect quite a few new additions to both my etsy shop and my clothpadshop shop soon!

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