Hey, I’m not knocking the diaper. It serves a great purpose. It contains those leaks better than most anything else the hospital recommends and it doesn’t shift around too much while doing it. The classic disposable adult diaper can be tossed in the trash without a second thought. And convenience is important in those early weeks of motherhood. We are exhausted! This is the best, hardest thing we’ve ever done. Every step needs to be strategically planned out in advance—from the frozen made-ahead meals courtesy of Pinterest to the endless number of copies of the birth plan (just in case).
How we care for our lady bits postpartum is no exception. While we are busy around the clock in our new life tending to a newborn—and any other littles we’ve got in tow—we still need to care for ourselves. This step often gets overlooked. We prep for this stage in life for the whole nine months. Heck! Who are we kidding? Some of us start before conception. No judgment.
We buy the baby clothes, the special sleep monitors, the bassinets, the baby carrier and slings, and all the while the only thing we really think about in terms of caring for ourselves afterward are yoga pants, hemorrhoid care, and pads. How fancy! Not to undermine the importance of those things, but that’s not enough.
Picture it. You’ve just given birth. Whether you did it naturally, opted for meds, or had a C-section, the end result is at least somewhat the same in one way. You’ve got a lot of blood to deal with. WebMD reports,
After about 10 days, you should see less blood. You may have light bleeding or spotting for up to 6 weeks after delivery.
But truth be told, many women—including myself—report bleeding for even as long as eight weeks, and that too can be totally normal.
Generally, the thought of bleeding for that long leads most moms to one question in this modern age: pads, or diapers? Pads certainly can get itchy and irritating, but diapers are also made of similar material and allow for even less airflow. What’s a mom to do? Stop right there. Those are great options. We love options. But you’ve got another no one is really talking about.
Enter, cloth pads. Don’t leave just yet. It’s not what you think. No, it’s not gross. It’s not messy. It’s not inconvenient at all. As a mama of four, I can attest that this is the only way I’ll care for myself now in the postpartum phase of life. I deserve this kind of luxury all the time though, so I use them for menstruation as well when I’m not in a period-free stage of life.
So let’s talk benefits. Right off the bat, you’re not introducing all the chemicals in pads and diapers to your lady bits with cloth. Let me tell you why this matters to me. The most recent example is a study released WHEN showing that Round-Up pesticide was found in both organic and non-organic tampons and pads when tested. Ummm no thanks! My womb already has a wound the size of dinner plate inside of it. No carcinogenic pesticides needed here. I just feel safer with cloth.
Another benefit is they don’t irritate me. I know this is a common complaint women have about disposable products. That itchy rash! Ick, never again. Another point in favor of cloth? Less waste. If you’re conscious about the footprint you make on this planet, cloth just gets tossed in the wash. Yes, it really does all wash away, and no, it doesn’t get on your clothes or anything else.
While I think there are endless benefits to being in tune with your body and in touch with your cycle, period blood really bothers some women. Those women often worry about dealing with the excess amount of lochia after having a baby. I’ve actually found it can be helpful to recommend they buy cloth pads with a dark color-even black-on the inside. I had some of these myself after baby number four was born and you can barely see the blood.
It doesn’t stop there. There’s a major to perk to being able to reuse pads for years. Ya hear me? They come completely clean in the wash. I usually wash mine every few days during postpartum but some women have a bigger stash and go even up to a week. You can rinse them after each use if you like but I don’t. Just toss them in whatever adorable wet bag suits your fancy and be done with it. The wet bag goes in the wash with them.
Shopping for cloth is like buying yourself cute new undies. And there are soooo many patterns, fabrics and prints. From totally neutral to super blinged out, it’s up to you.
Another benefit? There was no need for those stretchy mesh panties after day 1, but they did their job in the interim. When I was expecting more blood flow in the early days, I did attempt to microfiber cloth diaper inserts wrapped in an FST for extra protection from leaks when laying down at night (especially with all that side-lying nursing going on), but I found while it worked, I didn’t really bleed enough this time around to need it. I know a lot of moms have trouble fitting disposable pads of larger sizes into their undies. I continued to use the GiftPocket under bump maternity undies during postpartum, as well as some from Jessica Simpson’s line at Motherhood Maternity with no issue.
It’s rare to get a leak with cloth. They stay in place because of cushy wings with snaps on them. They are breathable. So, even with plush fabrics like minky against your bits, you won’t feel hot.
Cloth pads are where it’s at, ladies. No fuss. No leaks. No rash. No worries. Most of the moms I know who try cloth out for postpartum even end up switching for their periods, too. Buh-bye cup!
For self-care after my most recent squish, I snatched up a handful of postpartum pads from THX and another pack from Lepapierlavable over on Etsy. I was equally pleased with both. The THX brand pads were cushier, but both were just as soft on my skin and absorbent. And I scored these two wet bags (one for the upstairs bathroom and one for down) from AlvaBaby on Amazon. If you’re down with cloth wipes to take things a step further, I love the ones I bought from Apple Cheeks and Fruit of the Womb.
I actually enjoyed the process of getting these supplies together while I was pregnant. Looking back on it, I realize it was not just because of the excitement surrounding having a baby, but of why that excitement is spurred in each of us. I was putting intention into caring for myself during one of the most vulnerable times in my life. That’s important, and I’d encourage any mother to do the same. I got baskets from the dollar store for each bathroom and kept all of my supplies in them, from the peri bottle and Tucks pads to Earthley’s perineal spray.
My postpartum care experience was pretty swift this time around, and that’s necessary in a house with four kids. Side note: I did try out another method—using preemie prefolds as pads. This awesome alternative works well, too, and hey, they can be reused as boosters if you cloth diaper. I didn’t stick with it since I’d already purchased the pads and loved them, but the prefold method is totally worthy of your time if cloth pads aren’t in the budget for you.
I do not receive any compensation from these companies for recommending their products to you. It’s just what I went with and I wanted to share because the cloth experience has been so superior to disposables for myself and many others. Happy Mothering, ladies!