How To Handle Menstrual Cups In Public

Menstrual Cups in PublicIf you’re new to menstrual cups, I highly recommend reading this post first:  Menstrual Cups:  A Newbie’s Perspective.

I’ve used menstrual cups for about a year and I would NEVER go back to tampons.  They are far more comfortable and convenient to use than their disposable counterparts.  I don’t have to worry about buying menstrual supplies each month and I don’t deal with pain from inserting a dry, scratchy tampon.  Menstrual cups have made my periods much more manageable and less of an interruption to daily life.

When I broach the subject of menstrual cups with other women, the question that seems to always come up after how do you insert them, is how do you deal with them while out and about?  It’s a valid question, and an easy one to answer.

First of all, you can wear a menstrual cup for up to twelve hours before it needs to be emptied, cleaned, and reinserted.  TWELVE HOURS guys!  That means you may only need to insert your cup in the morning, empty it in the evening, and reinsert and forget about it until the next morning.  Compared to tampons which need to be changed every 4-6 hours, that’s a big change!  Twelve hours typically works for me.  If my flow is unusually heavy, I’ll go ahead and empty around the six-hour mark, but the Lunette I use has never been full at that point.  Since I typically only have to empty the cup once a day, I am almost always able to do so at home.  This is highly convenient since I have the privacy of my bathroom to empty, clean, and reinsert.  I do recommend doing several trial runs of emptying and reinserting the cup at home before you venture into public  restroom changes of the cup just to get yourself familiar with how it all works.

If you do have to be out and about when your cup needs to be emptied, it’s manageable and easy!  You used to carry a  bag with tampons or pads right?  Well, technically you can use that same bag for these disinfecting wipes.  However, the wipes are so tiny you could easily slip one in your pocket and no one would ever know.  To empty your menstrual cup in a public restroom:

  • Wash your hands (just as you should before changing a tampon!).
  • Remove the cup and empty the contents into the toilet.
  •  Wipe the inside and outside of the cup off with toilet tissue.
  • Once wiped well, use the cup wipe to finish cleaning and disinfecting your cup.
  • The wipes can be discarded in the trash or flushed if no trash can is readily available.
  • Let the cup air dry (it only takes a few seconds, you won’t be left sitting there for several minutes waiting).
  • Reinsert your cup.
  • Wash your hands.

See, no more complicated than changing a tampon.  If you’re worried about getting blood on your hands, you could easily put an extra wipe or an individually wrapped regular wipe in your bag or pocket to clean your hands before leaving the stall and washing them.  Once you’ve practiced emptying the cup at home several times,  you generally won’t have to worry about blood on your hands anymore than you would with tampons.

Have you made the switch to reusable menstrual care products yet?

*This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase from one of the affiliate links, I will receive a small portion of the sale.  You don’t have to make a purchase using the links, but I appreciate when you do as it helps support my blogging efforts.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Postpartum Mama Cloth

Postpartum Mama ClothIf you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that I’m a huge advocate for mama cloth.  I’ve raved about it, I’ve sewn it, I’ve converted several friends, and I practice what I preach and use it.

Many people have asked me if you can really use it postpartum and if I did.  I’d love to tell you that I proudly packed all my mama cloth and carried it with me to the hospital, but I didn’t.  I knew I’d be tired, I knew I had a history of postpartum hemorrhage and very heavy postpartum bleeding, so I took the ‘easy’ way out and packed a box of giant maxi pads.  However, I do wish I’d taken my cloth as it would’ve been far more comfortable.  The disposable pads did their job well, but they also caused more soreness and chaffing than my cloth does.  As soon as I got back home, I grabbed my cloth and it was more than adequate for my postpartum flow.

Which cloth pads work best postpartum?  It depends solely on you and your personal postpartum needs.  If you’re someone whose postpartum flow is like a regular period, you can probably get by with whatever mama cloth you currently use.  If you’re like me and those first several days are far heavier than a period, you’ll want to go with a cloth pad designed for postpartum use and then ease back into overnight or regular pads as your flow decreases. If you’re in between, a nice overnight pad will likely work well.  For me, one of the keys was that the pad be longer than what I’d ordinarily wear.  Postpartum care can be rough.  There will be vaginal and perianal swelling, you may even have stitches. A pad that is longer will tend to be more comfortable as the edge won’t be hitting any spots that are understandably very sore.  Longer pads will also give you more absorbency and can allow for a bit of a looser fit as their coverage area is wider.  I didn’t find tight-fitting underwear very appealing during my postpartum period.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, I would highly suggest purchasing this pattern and making some of these for postpartum use.  What didn’t I love about the Mamma Can Do It Postpartum Pad pattern?  Nothing, I loved everything.  It really is a winner, and no, I wasn’t paid to try it or say that.  It’s longer than your regular flow cloth pads and it acts like a shell that you can reuse a few times without laundering if it isn’t soiled.  You can put an ice pad or a rice bag in it for relief from postpartum swelling.  You can use it with cloth pads OR disposable pads.  Heck, you could even fold up a flat or prefold diaper in a pinch and put that inside this shell.  The bonus of making your postpartum pads yourself is that you can customize the length and width to fit your preferences and needs.

What if you don’t sew?  No, fear.  The lovely cloth pad makers out there have you covered with postpartum pads available for purchase.  Pink Daisy has postpartum pads available with stay dry tops or organic cotton tops.  Pink Lemonade pads are some of my personal favorites and they have some truly gorgeous 13″ postpartum pads that work great.  Wee Essentials is another personal favorite.

Can cloth pads really work for your postpartum flow?  Absolutely!  They can work great and they can make it a little more comfortable because sitting on plastic, even if it’s cotton topped, is just not fun.  With lush fabrics like minky, postpartum care can be far more comfortable with cloth.

*Some of the links provided in this post are affiliate links for which I will receive a small portion of the sale.  You don’t have to use these links to make a purchase, they just help support our blog if you do and for that we thank you!  You can view our full disclosure policy here.

Mama Cloth – What Is It?

MamaClothMama cloth…  Menstrual cups…  I had been menstruating 13 years before I heard about reusable menstrual products.  When you get ‘the talk’ you’re told about pads and tampons. That’s it.  No one mentions an entire line of reusable products that are more comfortable, eco-friendly, and economical.

The first time someone told me about mama cloth, they didn’t do it in a very positive way.  And I was instantly turned off.  No way was I going to reuse a pad, even if you did wash it.  Actually, no way did I want to wash something with blood all over it.  That was gross right?   WRONG!

My curiosity about cloth pads got the better of me and I decided to do more research.  Turns out there were a lot of options out there.  Users of mama cloth swore that they were comfortable.  Users of reusable cups said they barely noticed their periods at all.  I was intrigued.

My foray into mama cloth happened while I was pregnant with my second child.  Pregnant women know the insane amount of liners you can go through.  I sewed up a few pads with adjustable absorbency and I loved them!  They were far more comfortable than their plastic backed disposable counterparts.  And they were much more breathable.  I have continued to use mama cloth since, almost two years ago.

The Basics

  • Cloth pads come in a variety of shapes/lengths/widths just like disposable pads.  If you sew your own, or find a WAHM willing to do a completely custom pad, your options are truly endless.
  • Cloth pads come in a variety of absorbencies just like disposable pads.  Liners, light flow, medium flow, heavy flow, postpartum, overnight, etc.  It’s all out there ready to purchase.  There are also pads with adjustable absorbency which is something you won’t get with disposable products.  These pads have a body (or shell) that you slip your absorbent core into.  So you can add more layers as needed.
  • If you are prone to rashes or chaffing with disposable pads, that will likely go away with cloth pads.  Cloth pads don’t contain chemicals like their disposable counterparts and they are breathable.  Pads backed with fleece or wool and containing no PUL are especially breathable.  Any type of heat rash and chafing I had with disposable pads completely disappeared with cloth.  I don’t get that sore feeling after wearing them that I did with disposable pads.
  • Since cloth pads have no chemicals, they can also reduce your flow and cramping.  I’m no doctor, but I have talked to many women who use cloth pads and/or menstrual cups.  And most of them say that they’re flow, cramps, or both decreased after switching to reusable menstrual products.  The simple explanation is that there are no chemicals in the reusable products while there are in the disposable counterparts.  The chemicals can be an irritant to many women and your body needs to flush these chemicals out of your body – thus a heavier flow and more cramping.
  • When you’re out, you can store dirty pads in a waterproof makeup bag.  Most cloth pad retailers also sell small wet/dry bags designed to hold dirty pads and clean pads in separate pockets.
  • Cloth pads are pretty easy to care for.  And if you do it properly, they will last YEARS, saving you a lot of money.
  • So how do you care for them?  If you cloth diaper, you can rinse your pads in cold water and throw them in your dirty diaper pail.  Rinsing them actually isn’t even necessary, but it does help prevent staining.  If you don’t have cloth diapers to wash, you can get a small wet bag, or one of those tiny trash cans that you often see at ice cream parlors for sample spoons.  These trash cans are sold at the Dollar Tree and many other retailers.  Again, rinse in cold water to help prevent staining, and throw them in the pail.  Store your dirty pads here until the end of your cycle or whenever you are ready to wash.  I wash mama cloth every other day with my dirty diapers.  Before you wash, rinse them again in cold water (Some prefer an overnight soak with a bit of vinegar and cold water.  Just note that vinegar CAN break down PUL if you use a pad backed with PUL).  Throw them in the washer on their own OR with regular laundry.  Just don’t use fabric softener when washing mama cloth as it can cause repelling and greatly diminish the pad’s absorbency.  Hang dry, or throw them in the dryer.
  • What about staining?  Some materials are more prone to staining than others.  Pads topped with microfleece, suedecloth, and minky are actually rather hard to stain.  Natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo stain more easily.  Rinsing with cold water before placing in your pail or wet bag helps reduce staining.  If your pads do stain, soaking in oxi-clean or sunning them with lemon juice can help remove the stains.  And remember, a stain DOES NOT mean that something is dirty.
  • An added bonus?  Cloth pads come in lots of pretty colors and prints.

MamaCloth2So, are you curious?  Below you’ll find a list of places to purchase reusable menstrual products.  I have also created free patterns to make your own menstrual pads and liners which are linked at the bottom of the post.  Try your hand at sewing your own cloth pads!  It’s a fairly easy project and you might just like the results 😉

Cloth Menstrual Care Retailers
(This is just a small list.  You can do a google search for reviews and retailers to suit your own menstrual care needs.  Not all bodies are shaped the same, not all cycles are the same.  But there is something out there for everyone.  Check your local area for retailers as well. Cloth diaper stores and natural health care stores are great places to look.)

Pads

Cups

Wet Bags

Cloth Pad Patterns

Wet Bag Patterns

*Disclosure:  Please note that some of the links provided are affiliate links