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.

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Sewing Tutorial: Mama Cloth Wet/Dry Bag

Wet/Dry Bag TutorialThis tutorial is a simple no measurements needed sewing project that will enable you to create a wet bag to hold both clean and dirty mama cloth.  Wet/dry bags are nice when you are on the go because you have one convenient place to store both your used and unused menstrual products while you’re out.

The mama cloth wet/dry bag we are creating in this tutorial has one large opening at the top that is secured shut with hook and loop tape.  You could also alter the pattern and install a zipper here.  The large top opening is designed to hold your dirty items.  There is a large pocket on the front with snap closures designed to hold your clean items.  There is also a handle that has a snap closure so that it can be hung not only on door knobs or hooks, but also towel racks or even the toilet paper holder.

You can choose whatever fabric design you like, the bag just looks like any other clutch so no one would ever know what is inside unless you showed them.

Materials Needed

  • Waterproof PUL fabric – amount will vary based on how large or small you want your bag to be.
  • Hook and loop tape (or zipper if you prefer a top zipper closure)
  • Snaps and Snap Pliers or Press
  • Sewing Machine
  • Polyester Thread
  • Scissors
  • The PDF tutorial with fully detailed and illustrated instructions.  Print the file as fit to page or follow along on-screen.  Click here to download file:  Mama Cloth Wet Dry Bag.

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Ten Reasons I Love Mama Cloth

10 Reason I Love Mama ClothSome of the most popular posts on our blog are our free mama cloth patterns.  Why?  Mama cloth is awesome.  As are menstrual cups.  They make periods easier and more comfortable.  If you haven’t already tried mama cloth and menstrual cups, here are ten more reasons why you should.

  1. They save you money.  Who doesn’t need some extra cash?  Depending on prices where you live and how savvy of a shopper you are most women will spend about $10 a month on their periods.  Obviously, some women may spend less.  If you have heavy, or long periods, you will likely spend more.  That’s $120 a year for oh, let’s say 35 or so years.  Maybe more, maybe less depending on your body, how many children you have, etc.  Based on those figures you’ll spend $4200 on pads, tampons, and panty liners in a lifetime.  If cared for properly a menstrual cup can last up to ten years and they average about $30-40 each.  Cloth pad prices can vary greatly.  You can make several pads out of a yard of flannel and a bit of fleece for backing making them very inexpensive.  You can buy them for $3-$9+ a piece.  Keep in mind, cloth pads can also last for years if properly cared for.  The life expectancy of a cloth pad or panty liner varies from three to four years on up to eight or nine years.  If you need a new cup every ten years, let’s say you need three in a lifetime at $40 each.  That’s $120 for a lifetime supply of menstrual cups.  Let’s say you need ten pads per month and you replace them five times in a lifetime.  If you make them yourself, you could likely make more than ten for less than $20.  So you would spend $100 making a lifetime supply of pads and liners.  That’s $220 for a lifetime supply of menstrual cups and pads.  If you buy the pads  at $9 each that would be $450 for a lifetime supply of pads.  So $570 for a lifetime supply of pads and menstrual cups.  Even if you buy more, you’re saving money.
  2. Cloth pads don’t cause chaffing.  So, let’s be honest and enter the TMI zone for a minute.  Many disposable menstrual pads cause rash, irritation, and/or chaffing.  At the end of your period you have a genital area that feels sore and is often chafed and rashy.  It can be from the dry tampons or it can be from the plastic backed pads.  That doesn’t happen with MOST menstrual cups, and unless you’re allergic to the fabric the cloth pad is made of (highly unlikely) it isn’t going to happen at all with pads.  If you menstrual cup is making you sore, it is likely the wrong size for you or you haven’t inserted it properly.  Not because it is drying your vaginal walls out as tampons do.
  3. Cloth pads don’t bunch.  You know that awful, bunched up feeling disposable pads get when wet?  Or if you’re exercising and all of a sudden you have what feels like half the pad wadded up your tush giving you a wedgie? Yeah…that doesn’t really happen with cloth pads or menstrual cups.  Disposable pads typically have a gel to catch your flow and that gel can bunch when wet.  Cloth pads snap around the underwear and typically don’t bunch.  There are cloth pads in many shapes so you have lots of options in finding the right fit for your body.
  4. Less cramps.  You read that right.  I didn’t believe it when cloth pad connoisseurs told me that cloth pads can help elevate menstrual cramps.  I tried them, just to see if they were lying.  Turns out, they weren’t.  The chemicals in disposable pads and tampons can irritate your body leading to heavier periods and stronger cramping.  Your cramps likely won’t disappear altogether, but mine did lessen significantly. Reusable Menstrual Care Rocks
  5. You don’t have to worry about having them on hand or rushing out to buy some.  Getting your period unexpectedly and realizing you don’t have a single pad, liner, or tampon in the house or your purse sucks.  You have to find something to catch your flow while you run to the store and the whole time you worry about leaks or if everyone can tell that you have a washcloth wadded in your panties.  No worries like that if you use cloth pads or menstrual cups because you always have them readily available.  You could even keep a couple of cloth pads in your purse ‘just in case’.
  6. TSS is highly unlikely with menstrual cups.  We’ve all heard about TSS and it’s relation to tampon use.  Sadly, there are women who die every year from TSS and it just doesn’t have to happen.  According to Lunette, there are no known instances of TSS with use of a menstrual cup because it catches your flow instead of absorbing vaginal fluids and menstrual flow.  It is NOT absorbent.  If TSS is a concern, please contact your physician to make sure you are making the best decision for your health and menstrual care.
  7. You change them less.  You can safely wear a menstrual cup for up to twelve hours instead of a maximum of six to eight like tampons.  A menstrual cup also doesn’t need to be emptied when you urinate and can safely be worn overnight.  How often you change a cloth pad will vary based on your flow.
  8. You waste less.  If you’re environmentally conscious, this one’s important.  You are putting less trash into landfills when you choose reusable menstrual products.
  9. You know what’s going into your body.  Cloth pads are made of fabric and most are made of natural fabrics.  This means no chemicals like disposable pads.  Most menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone.  Tampons are often bleached and I don’t want bleached products inside my vagina.
  10. They’re cute.  Okay, this is a totally immature reason.  But I like that I can get cloth pads in fun prints and colors.  No, they don’t give me a ‘happy’ period, but they sometimes make me smile when I pull out a pad with a cute little monster on it.  Or a ‘ninja fighter’ period pad.  And you can even get the Lunette in fun colors.

Menstrual Cups: A Newbie’s Perspective

MenstrualCupsThis post contains graphic language in regards to menstruation and the female anatomy.  If honest, open discussion of these topics offends you, please stop reading.

Menstrual cups…I have to say I waited a while to try them compared to mama cloth.  There was a two-year gap in my discovery and use of mama cloth and my use of menstrual cups.  I wanted to do a post now as a brand new menstrual cup user to give a newbie’s perspective on them.  I plan to go back in a few months and to offer more advice on getting used to them and ease of use.

A little background…  Before I had children, I was a tampons and liners only type person.  I never wore disposable menstrual pads except for at night.  After having kids, tampons were extremely uncomfortable.  I tried different brands and just couldn’t comfortably wear them.  I discovered mama cloth during my second pregnancy and that’s what I continued to use until this cycle.  I’d say my cycles are pretty average, the second day is heavy, third a little less heavy, and then it’s pretty light to spotting for another couple of days.  I don’t really have any flow at night other than slight spotting occasionally.

I have a tilted cervix, but this has not made it difficult for me to use the cup.  I do not have an IUD.  If you do, you should discuss using a menstrual cup with your doctor.

I would say I am probably more comfortable with my female anatomy than most.  I say this because I learned a lot about my body and had to get comfortable doing things like checking my cervix while we spent several years trying to conceive and going through infertility.  You have to be comfortable in touching your vagina to use a menstrual cup because there is no applicator.  The applicator is your fingers.  I promise it’s not gross or scary.  Just wash your hands before you start and RELAX!!  Being tense will make it harder to insert a menstrual cup just like it would a tampon.

Menstrual Cup Q&A

  • What is a menstrual cup?
    A menstrual cup is a reusable cup used to catch menstrual flow.  It is typically made of medical grade silicone.  Instead of throwing it away after use, you wash the cup and reuse it.
  • Is inserting the cup difficult or painful?
    Yes, and no.  The hardest part for me so far is getting the cup to stay folded before I get it all the way in.  I’m getting better at it, but it does take practice.  So, for me, it’s only painful if the cup pops open before I get it all the way inside.
  • How do you insert it?
    My cup came with insertion instructions and details on insertion and different folds for insertion are also available on the manufacturer’s website.  I will also direct you to Dirty Diaper Laundry’s video because it is great and offers tips that really help you get it right.  The tip to bear down while inserting was key for me.  And remember that you aren’t aiming the cup ‘up’, it’s almost going in horizontal towards your lower back.
  • Can you feel it?
    I could tell the cup was in at first, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.  Once I’d inserted it a few times and gotten more comfortable with it, I really couldn’t tell it was in it all.  I purchased the Lunette size 2.  The Lunette cup has a small stem at the bottom to help you grip and guide it.  I had to trim most of the stem off because it was too long for my anatomy.  Once I did that, it was super comfortable and I really didn’t notice I was having my period at all.
  • Will I get it right the first time?
    Honestly, probably not.  I didn’t.  I got the cup too high the first time and it was giving me cramps.  I just adjusted it, pulled it down just a tad, and it was a night and day difference.  I feel like I’ve gotten better at getting it right each time I do it.  It is definitely a learning curve because you’re learning your body’s own anatomy and what placement is just right for you.  Once you get it though, it’s very comfortable.
  • How often do you empty the cup?
    You can wear the cup for up to 12 hours.  On a heavy day, I wore mine about six hours before I changed it.  It is safe to wear a cup at night, but I don’t because I really don’t have a flow at night.  Unlike tampons, TSS cases have not been reported with the cup.  One BIG reason to use them.
  • How do you clean it?
    The first several times you use your cup, I would recommend emptying it and reinserting it at home if possible.  Mainly because you don’t want to be tense when you remove it and it might be messy until you get the hang of it.  DDL’s video above will also give you tips to remove the cup.  Bear down, pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal, and slowly pull it out.  I just empty the cup into the bowl, wash it with mild soap at the sink, and reinsert it.  Lunette makes a cleanser designed for use with the cup.  If you need to change while on the go, they also make cleansing cloths.
  • The cup is expensive.  I could buy several boxes of tampons for the cost of one cup.
    It is and you’re right.  But, the tampons are going to be thrown away.  The cup can be used for years if you care for it properly and that is going to save you lots of money.  On the low end, a box of tampons is going to cost about $4.  If you need one box every month, the Lunette has paid for itself in ten months….
  • Will I need a back-up?  
    Until you get comfortable using the cup, you may have some leakage.  Once you get the seal right, you likely won’t need a back-up liner or pad unless you have a heavy flow.  And again, I don’t wear the cup at night because I have practically no flow at night, but you can wear it overnight.
  • Can I wear the cup on light days?
    Yes!  You can wear the cup on light or heavy days and you don’t need a ‘light flow’ or ‘heavy flow’ cup.  One cup will do it all.
  • Is it true that the cup helps alleviate cramps?
    For me, yes.  Chemicals in disposable tampons and pads can greatly contribute to menstrual cramps and a heavier flow.  I have almost no cramping since switching to cloth pads and the cup.  The only time I had cramping with the cup was when I had it inserted too high.  Once I adjusted it, the cramps were instantly gone.
  • How do I find the right cup for me?
    There are a few different cups on the market and they typically come in two different sizes.  Lunette and Diva Cup being the two brands I hear about most.  Every woman’s anatomy is different so I would recommend checking out the manufacturer’s websites and comparing the different brands.  After my research, Lunette was my choice and it has been a good fit for me.

Where To Buy

If you want more information on cloth pads, please stop by our article on Mama Cloth.

I hope this has provided you with some useful information on menstrual cups.  I have to say that I am very glad I finally decided to try one.  I love mama cloth, but the cup is a whole new freedom.  Only having to empty it once or twice a day is fantastic and lets me forget that I have my period.

If you have other questions, feel free to email me or comment below.

*This post contains some affiliate links.  

Cloth Pad Tutorial: Hidden Contoured Core, Overcast Edge

MamaClothThreeWaysWelcome back again!  This is the third and final tutorial in a series of three showing you how to sew cloth pads with overcast edges three ways:  exposed core, exposed contoured core, hidden contoured core.

Today we will sew the hidden contoured core pad, the third pad pictured on the left hand side of the screen.

What You’ll Need

  • The HiddenContouredCoreOvercastEdge pdf.  Download by clicking the link. Follow along on your computer, or print out.  Please do NOT sell the pattern. I have provided it free of charge to help mamas who want to try mama cloth but cannot afford it.
  • Fabric for the pad body top:  flannel, jersey, or any other cotton or absorbent material.
  • Fabric for the pad body bottom:  anti-pill or blizzard fleece.  These thicker fleece types naturally repel liquids and make a good water-resistant bottom while providing a non-slip surface against your underwear.
  • Fabric for the pad core.  You want absorbent fabrics for your core.  These could include cotton flannel, cotton birdseye, cotton terry cloth, bamboo, hemp, etc.  Basically any thirsty fabric will work. Just remember that if you use microfiber or zorb, be sure to sandwich them between fabrics that are safe to be against the skin.
    For the pads shown, I have used three layers of bamboo fleece.  Bamboo and hemp are good choices if you want a thinner pad as they are thin, but absorbent. 2-3 layers of bamboo or hemp will give you medium flow absorbency; use more for heavy, postpartum, or overnight.
    If you use flannel, 6 layers would be a good medium/heavy flow.  You would want to add more for heavier absorbencies.
  • Sewing machine and notions (thread, needles, scissors, presser feet, etc)
  • Snaps – metal or plastic. Plastic will be more durable, but metal may be easier to get. I have used KAM snaps here. They are really fantastic quality and the pliers are easy to use.  I use a size 20 socket and stud, with size 16 snaps.
    Plastic snap pliers can all be found at JoAnn Fabric.  I have seen metal snap pliers at Wal-Mart.
    If you can’t find snaps, dry cleaners or alteration shops can often apply them. Or you can use velcro or a diaper pin if you have to.

If you have a serger, obviously you can do all this on the serger as well.  Learn more about cloth pads here.  Happy sewing!