Mama Cloth: Making The Switch
Mama cloth or cloth menstrual pads are a great alternative to disposable pads. If you have switched your baby over to cloth diapers, you have probably learned about mama cloth and want to make a switch for yourself as well. It has all the same benefits that cloth diapers have for your baby! Cloth pads are more comfy, all natural and save you money. I personally use them and love them!
I made the switch to cloth pads about 3 years ago and love it. Sposie pads always left me feeling like I was wearing a paper diaper - icky! Mama cloth is soft and can be very trim and absorbent. Not to mention they have pretty colors and patterns on them. What's not to love? OK, so some mama's think it sounds gross. It actually isn't. They are easy to care for, easy to use.
How To Choose Pads
Most cloth pads are made by WAHM's, but there are some made by big cloth diaper companies. I love to support a WAHM and in my opinion they make the best pads. The first place I always look when shopping for them is Hyena Cart, but Etsy is also a good place.
There are alot of different types of pads to choose from and making a choice can be frustrating! Let me break them down for you.
1.) Contoured or rectangle pads with wings.
2.) Contoured pads with no wings.
3.) Diamond shaped pads that are all one piece and have wings.
Styles of pads are really a preference. It really comes down to whether or not you want a contoured shape or not and if you prefer wings.
1.) Panty Liner - Very thin and short, much like a disposable liner pad. These are not really for absorbing, but for protecting your panties.
2.) Thong Liners - These are like a cross between a panty liner and a light flow pad. They have a small triangular end, to fit into thong underwear.
3.) Light - Thicker and longer than a panty liner, perfect for light flow days. Usually are about 6-8" long.
4.) Normal/Day - Perfect for day use, these pads can be very trim and comfy. They are very absorbent and are about 8-10" long.
5.) Heavy - Great for those heavy flow days, these pads are thicker and longer than the other pads. They will hold whatever you need and are about 9-12" long.
6.) Overnight/Postpartum - These pads are the biggest pads at 12-13" long. They work wonderfully overnight (I love them myself!) and are also great for postpartum flow.
These shapes are much like the disposable pads you are used to and function much in the same way. They are just cuter and more comfy.
1.) Fleece - Fleece is often used to back mama pads. It helps to ensure that nothing will leak through the bottom of the pad.
2.) Wool - Wool is also used to back mama pads, but is more expensive. It also helps to make sure nothing leaks through the bottom of the pad.
3.) Flannel - Flannel is commonly used for the absorbency in pads. It is inexpensive and works well. Some pads are made entirely of flannel and some only have a core of flannel for absorbency.
4.) OBV - Organic Bamboo Velour is a popular choice for pads because it is so soft and luxurious. It is also more expensive, and natural bamboo velour stains easily. It is more absorbent than flannel or cotton.
5.) OCV - Organic Cotton Velour is one of my favorite choices for pads. It is used to top a pad to make it soft and colorful. It is less expensive than bamboo velour and doesn't stain as easily. It's not quite as soft - but both will loose softness as it gets used.
6.) Minky - Another popular topper for pads because it is very soft and comes in a variety of pretty colors.
7.) Zorb - Super absorbent material used for the absorbent core of a pad. A more expensive option that fleece or cotton.
Any of these materials will work fine - it is just your preference of what you want. They will all be absorbency enough and hold everything in. I have used all these materials and they all work equally well. My preference is Cotton velour and a cotton/flannel inner with a fleece backing.
Mama pads can get expensive, especially when you choose ones made with bamboo and zorb. More expensive materials does not mean it's a better pad. I bought a bunch of bamboo velour and zorb pads at a co-op once and was actually a bit disappointed with them. They were very soft and nice, but they didn't work any better than my beloved cotton pads and weren't as trim. That's not to say you won't prefer bamboo, or find zorb pads that are trim. This was just my experience.
If you want to just dip your feet into mama cloth, so to speak, then you can try a starter pack. Most WAHM's who make them offer a starter pack. These packs usually come with light, normal, and heavy pads. You will get 1-2 of each type. This will give you a good idea of whether or not you like using cloth pads (you will) and if you like this particalur brand of pads. You may want to try other WAHM's to see who makes your favorite's.
Once you are ready to fully commit you will probably need at least 20 pads altogether. You will want at least 2-3 night pads, 6 or more heavy pads, and 8 or more day pads, along with at least 3 light pads or liners. The cost of buying that many pads at once will add up, but it will be a good start. Then you can keep adding to your stash when you have the funds.
In my experience on a heavy day, no matter what type of pads I use or material I use, I need to change every hour or so. Otherwise on a regular day I can go 2-3 hours with a normal pad. I have probably about 20-25 pads altogether and usually wash every day for the first two days of my cycle and every other day after that. I will probably keep buying more though, because I do run out some days and have to throw them in the wash quickly so I can keep using them.
Storing & Washing Your Mama Cloth
There are two ways to store your pads after they have been used. One is to put them in a wet bag or pail in your bathroom and the second is to wet pail them. When I first did research on using mama cloth I read that they needed to be wet pailed and it scared me off from the idea. I didn't want to worry about having a pail of water in my bathroom my little ones could get into. I decided to try them without a wet pail and have never had a problem though.
Method 1 - Dry Pail
To 'dry pail' your mama cloth you need either a hanging wet bag, or a pail with a liner in it. I use a zippered wet bag that I hang near the toilet. You can also use a small plastic bucket and put a wet bag or small pail liner in it. Then simply throw your used pads in and your done until wash. If you want, you can rinse the pads or squirt them with peroxide before you store them to help combat stains. I don't worry about stains - some of my pads stain easily and some don't. It doesn't bother me.
When you are ready to wash take the wet bag or liner and throw it into the wash. Wash with warm or hot water and whatever detergent you want. Just follow the directions on the detergent as usual. You can wash your pads on cold as well, and you can wash them with other items if you like, that's up to you. I often wash my pads with a load of towels to fill up the washer. And yes you can wash them with your diapers if you like.
Method 2 - Wet Pail
To 'wet pail' your pads you will need a small bucket or pail that has a lid. Fill it about 1/2 way with water and out of the way of small hands. Make sure to change the water every day. To change the water slowly pour it into your toilet or utility sink.
When you are ready to wash, dump your pads (minus the water) into the washer. Wash with warm or hot water and any detergent you choose. Follow the directions on the detergent as usual.
Cloth Pads On The Go
Using cloth pads out of the house is easy. I know it sounds intimidating, but it's really not any harder than using disposable pads. Most pads fold up and snap together so they become very small. This makes them easy to put in your purse without taking up much room. You can also use a mini wet bag, which is big enough to hold a couple of pads, to put your dirty pads in. There are also bigger bags, like a 'clutch' that will hold more pads and has two separate compartments. One for dirty pads, one for clean. Of course you can use whatever you like - even a plastic bag.
So, on the go just change out your pad for a new pad, fold up the dirty one and tuck it away in your purse or bag. Easy peasy. So many people think cloth is so much work - it's really only one extra step really and it's so worth it!
Mama cloth is fabulous! I really would never switch back to sposie pads. I have used them here and there in the meanwhile and I can really tell a difference. I have read many times that cloth pads make your period shorter and lighter. I can't say for sure that is true, but many moms swear it is, and I have to say I am starting to agree.
So go over to Hyena Cart or Etsy and do a search for 'mama cloth' or 'cloth pads'. You will be so happy you made the switch!
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