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Eco-Friendly Menstrual Products

 

Introduction

 

When you have got over the initial thought about using cloth yourself, it gradually becomes more of an acceptable idea, and finally many people, myself included, take the plunge. After all, one of the reasons I chose to use cloth for Elinor was because I found disposable sanitary towels so uncomfortable myself.

The skin around the vagina and vulva is very delicate, and in a number of women, using disposable sanitary towels can dry the area too much, causing soreness, itching, and perhaps making thrush more likely.

Most women will use about 10000 sanitary towel/tampons in their life, they take 6 months for a tampon to biodegrade, and indefinately for a sanitary towel. Disposable menstrual products takes up more room in landfill sites than even disposable nappies. Flushing causes blackage of old drainage systems. Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal illness which particularly affects younger women, is linked to tampons. [from Womans Environmental Network]

All this made me realise that I wanted an alternative. Maybe for you, you may just want washable panty liners, rather than spending a fortune on disposable ones, or you may want to switch to all re-useable sanitary wear. It will certainly save you money, and may improve comfort and health at the same time.

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Cloth Pads for Mum

 

Types

I don't have a comprehensive selection of cloth pads, and have borrowed the photos from the makers, as my own cloth pads have been used, so not so photogenic! There are a lot of others on the market, and if you look at the nappy sellers lists, you will find they usually have some different types.

What I have written about the pros and cons of each type is obviously very personal to me! As a larger lady I use mainly the larger cloths pads, so movement [or not!] is more noticeable. I also don't ever wear skimpy clothes, so the thickness of pads is not an issue for me. You may have different priorities, and like different pads better, so try a few before making a final decision.

The largest cloth pads can be succesfully used for incontinence, and are much more economical than the disposable options. I have indicated the ones I felt to be the best in ready made sizes. [ Mom and me creations, Wemoon TM, Comfort zone]. The three WAHM ranges I've included [Clothbots, Moon-Mammas and Ellas House] have previously indicated that they would make pads at a size to order for those that needed bigger or wider pads. Fleece topped may be more comfortable than flannel for some women, as it can act as a one way barrier, holding the urine away from the skin.

Teens and young women will often have more of a priority on slimness of fitting, and the actual styling and look. I think wemoon TM, Moon-mammas and Ellas House have the edge here, with both vibrant prints and slimness to recommend them.

For post partum use, the bigger the better. In fact if your loss is particularly heavy initially, you may feel happier with a small prefold, which will be held in place by underwear. Choose the largest sizes, and here 2 part systems where you can add an extra insert [such as Mom and me creations and Comfort zone] may also be better. I found flannel topped to be better than fleece for heaviest loss.

For the record, I like flannel topped with large poppered wings best . I have compared here the pads that I have, and some makes will have been updated and upgraded since I bought mine. I am happy with all of them, and whichever you pick will be good value and work well.

Mom and Me Creations

These are 2 part pads, with a hemp fleece upper, which encompasses the wings, a slit to place the hemp insert at the side, and the bottom is laminate with a jazzy print. they do up with a single popper.

I really like these pads, and they are wonderfully comfortable. The wing design means that they don't move around at all. The largest size I think could absorb anything you threw at it, and would be excellent for both postpartum and incontinence use. Being 2 part, you can choose the size you are most comfortable with, and boost it further if necessary.

Unfortunately, buying from the states does make them expensive when postage is included. You may also have to pay customs and excise on top when they come into country - your postman usually collects the money on delivery if required. This is a bit of a lottery as to whether applied or not. They are the bulkiest of the pads I have, but I didn't find that a problem.

Wemoon TM

Available from Plush Pants, and The Soft Option.

These are all-in-one [AIO] construction, with an abosrbant core, flanelette outer, in a number of colours, plus organic, and a laminate backing for leakproofness. They come in a variety of sizes, including a maxi for postpartum and incontinence use.

They are very slimline, almost invisible to wear, but very absorbant. They also don't move around, so very safe! An excellent all round system.

Rhythm and Blues

There are 3 lengths and a variety of size combinations, including postpartum and panty liners. They have flannel print outers, though you can get some fleece topped, diaper flannel as soaker and PUL backed. They are an AIO, and have a fold out design to aid quick drying. They have wide wings with 2 poppers.

They are extremely comfortable, very thirsty, and don't move around at all. No leaks and look nice. I have the thickest version, so not as slimline as other pads I have.

Unfortunately, they come from the USA, so they are expensive with postage included. I luckilly got mine as part of a co-operative with other people. Jennifer is willing to forgo the shipping costs for co-operative purchases, so making it cheaper. You may also have to pay customs and excise on top when they come into country - your postman usually collects the money on delivery if required. This is a bit of a lottery as to whether applied or not

Clothbots: The Comfort Zone

I really like this 2 part system. There is a shaped insert, and fleece or cotton flannel outer with a waterproof backing. There are various absorbancies, and extra pads can be added for boosting. Both the plus and ultra versions would be suitable for post partum and incontinence use, though you may need to boost a bit. The wider wings mean that they stay firmly in place.

They are not as slimline as some of my other pads though, but I don't find this a problem.

moon-mammas

These are AIO pads made out of terry with a polar fleece backing, and also against the skin. They do up with a single popper. You can choose different fleece prints, and they come in a variety of lengths. Kirsty will also make up to a particular length you require - very handy!

They are very comfortable, slimline, and extremely cost friendly! There are a range of patterns to choose from. They are a good choice for those starting out and for teens.

I have had a new long MM, and with a wider wing it is more stable than the originals, and really comfortable to wear.

I do find when v heavy that I can occassionally leak without a PUL backing overnight.

Ellashouse: Minx Menstrual Pads

These are all in one pads, made with hemp fleece, so thin and absorbant. You can choose either microfleece, or flannel against the skin. They do up underneath with a single popper. They have 4 sizes including panty liner and postpartum.

They are very comfortable and slimline, with a choice of funky colours and patterns. Also excellent value for money. This makes them a good choice for those starting out, or for teens.

I've found that if my loss is really heavy, not having PUL layer means that occaissionally there has been some leaking, but not major, and mainly overnight when I'm really heavy [sorry for graphic detail!].

I have a new style panty liner, and find that this has greater stability in position than my previous pads, as Sara is constantly updating and improving her products.

Many Moons

This is an American import, which I bought from Born as a trial pack. The ones I have are like those in the picture, but on the American site there appears to be a new improved design. They are 2 part, with an outer flannel holder which is laminate backed, and a flannelette inner, which in the older design has to be folded, but in the newer design is shaped. There is a choice of wild or pastel prints.

I found folding the flannelette a nuisance, and also the slit at the top gaped, and only ironing [as if!] would get it to lie better. The new design has addressed that, and would be worth trying when available in the UK.

Washing

When out and about, most sellers of menstrual pads also sell little bags/purses to store them in, that have a dry side and a messy side. I have a fake leopard skin one, and I don't imagine any casual looker would guess what was inside!

The key to reduceing staining is to soak as soon as possible - an old 2l ice cream tub will do the job - in cold water. Some people add a bit of salt to it, and although this reduces staining, over time it will bleach the pads of their colour.

They are best washed with a non-bio powder, as the biological detergents shorten the lifespan of laminate backings. Also, don't be tempted to use conditioner, as this decreases the absorbancy. They can be washed with your babies nappies, though make sure you've washed them a few times to make sure there is no colour run first. For washing with other loads, I would do a prewash, or at least a rinse first before adding other clothes.

Should staining occur, adding some soda crystals to the pre-wash can help. Also drying in the sunlight.

How Many Do I need?

Most sellers have a chart depending on your flow, which suggest not very many, and which sizes you might be best with. I think they underestimate. I'm not a domestic goddess, so I would like to go 2-3 days before washing, which means 3-4 days worth. Think how many pads of what size you use a day a disposables, and then have 3 times that number and you will have plenty! For post partum use you will probably be changing at least every 4 hours, so that will be 6 in a day. They can be washed with your nappies, though make sure you've washed them a few times to make sure there is no colour run first.

You don't need to change over all at once, and can buy a few of different sizes and styles to see what suits you, while partly using disposables, until you get the right collection for your needs.

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Mooncups and Keepers

 

I have no personal experience with either of these, as yet, and don't think I probably will. However........

I've included them so that people can see what other resources are available. They act by collecting the blood, which then can be tipped down the loo, a quick clean, and they can be re-inserted. There is a pre and post pregnancy size.

To talk to other users, go to the UK parents forum for eco-friendly menstrual products.

looks pretty much like the Keeper, but is clear.

Mooncups

These are made out of silastic , so are suitable for people with a latex allergy.

The Keeper

Also available from Born, this is a soft, re-useable gum rubber cup worn internally.

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