I used to be a pretty mainstream kind of person. And then I got pregnant. I started reading about all kinds of choices that people make during their pregnancies, labor and deliveries, and parenting. I was surprised to discover myself leaning HARD toward the crunchy granola earth-mama hippy-dippy end of the spectrum. Even though I started small, my crunchiness has evolved over the last eight months of NewDotBaby’s life.
My newest foray into the more natural life is a purchase of “mama cloth” pads and a Diva Cup. These alternatives to tampons and disposable pads are a pretty significant investment on the front end (there are less expensive pad options out there, especially WAHM-wares), but considering that I usually buy pads, tampons, and pantiliners over and over, I’ll be saving money by the eighth cycle I use them.
But let’s just say that you’re thinking, “Hey, I have $10-20 per month to literally flush down the toilet every month! Who cares about the cost?” Well, there are other advantages to this natural choice. A lot of women find that their menses becomes shorter in duration, lighter, and with much less cramping and backaches. Of course, you can also take into consideration the impact of creating so much less waste. There are lots of statistics and studies out there – seriously, just Google “why cloth menstrual pads” and you’ll be stunned at how long it takes a disposable pad to break down in a landfill. If you have ever lived in (or visited) a home with a septic tank, you know that tampons aren’t flushable and must be put in the trash can. Not exactly appealing, right?
I *never* would have thought I’d be taking this leap. It seems like such a backward thing to do. I mean, didn’t our great-grandmothers have cloth as their only choice during their periods? Why would we reject all the wonderful advances of the 21st century and go back to that?
For me, the choice came after I started cloth diapering NewDotBaby. The cloth diapers available today are SO much easier (and prettier!) than the cloth diapers used even 25 years ago. I’m totally committed to the idea of keeping nasty chemicals away from my son’s sensitive skin. NewDotDad is a testicular cancer survivor, so the research about rising testicular temperatures in disposable-diaper-clad baby boys concerns me. After about four months of swaddling my son’s tiny tush in soft, cozy fleece (and being responsible for all the diaper changes and laundering, and realizing that it’s pretty simple) I had the return of my postpartum menses. It had been over a year since I’d had to deal with tampons and pads, and I’d sort of forgotten a lot about them. The cost was one shock, and the feel and scent was another. But I did think I’d get more familiar with it again, in time.
While I was having my third postpartum cycle, I was walking around a baby store with my son. I left earlier than I planned, without shopping for everything on my list, because walking was actually uncomfortable with my tampon-and-pad in place. When I got home, I logged online and emailed the ONE friend I know who uses cloth menstrual pads. I needed a review, and fast, because I was ready to make a purchase. She told me about her experience with her DivaCup and LunaPads, and sent me a link to their website. I just couldn’t understand, for the first time in my life, why the thought of putting chemically treated paper and plastic into my most sensitive of regions had ever seemed sane. So the really amazing thing is, I have finally figured it out… this ISN’T backward. It ISN’T just something crunchy-granola, hippy-dippy women do. It ISN’T wierd, or gross, or even really that “non-mainstream.” It’s probably the most pro-feminine, self-accepting and self-affirming, thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. And I’m really jazzed about it!
Now I’m just waiting on my own stuff to arrive – and I am actually excited about getting my next period (I probably haven’t felt that way since I was twelve and reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret!) so I can use everything. I promise I’ll post a review in case anyone else is considering taking the plunge.