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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let's talk mama cloth

(By means of preface, if I have somehow garnered any male readers, or if you are a man and have stumbled across this post by accident, I want to prepare you now for what promises to be a candid discussion of feminine hygiene. It has been my experience that most men would rather slam their pinkie finger in the car door than to take part in any conversation that includes the words "period," "tampon," "pads," or even "postpartum," so please do consider yourselves warned and feel free to click away immediately. Won't hurt my feelings one bit.)

With that said, let's commence.

Within the realm of natural family living, there is a fun little term that will generally spark delight in the hearts of all crunchy and sortacrunchy mamas - fluffy mail. What is fluffy mail? Simply, it's mail that contains items that are soft and squeezable rather than flat and texturally undelightful. In the context of natural living products, fluffy mail most often refers to baby carriers (the kind one uses to wear the baby), cloth diapers, or mama cloth (also known as cloth menstrual pads). And it is that last category of fluffy mail that I want to talk about today because yesterday, Mama got some fluffy mail of her own:

These little pretties are the custom postpartum pads I ordered from RCD Boutique - a Hyena Cart vendor who hails from Canada and makes and sells all manor of crunchy goodies. (I want to pause and say Rosie was a dream to work with - excellent communication, perfect sewing, amazing turnaround time. Big thumbs-up for this WAHM!)

Now might be a good time to tell you that as recently as a year ago, I had fairly well determined that although I loved many aspects of natural living, there were some lines I was just not going to cross. Using cloth pads ranked high on my Thanks, But No Thanks list of changes I couldn't (wouldn't) make. I am ashamed to say this, but I have never been one of those women who fully embraces the magic and mystery of the monthly cycle. I want to be. Really, I do. But mostly I see that time of the month as a fairly big inconvenience and therefore want to take care of it in the most convenient way possible. The thought of purchasing - and using! - cloth items actually made me a bit queasy.

And yet . . .

I found myself drawn to the mama cloth forums on the cloth diapering boards I frequent, and the more I read from mamas who were happy - enthusiastic even! - having made the switch to cloth pads, the more intrigued I became. Here's a little confession for ya'll: Though my first period arrived when I was in the sixth grade, I didn't use a tampon for the first time until the summer before I started college. Since that time, the only, only, time I used pads was when I was postpartum with D. I loathe disposable pads with all that is within me, and I think this was a major hurdle in my thinking as I contemplated switching to cloth pads. Plus, there is the "ick" factor. Although tampons aren't totally ick-free, at least when you're done with one, you're done.

Eventually my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to start small. A few pantyliners - that's it. Imagine my astonishment when I found I was actually looking forward to the end of my period so I could use these sweet little things that were gorgeously, luxuriously soft and gentle. Honestly, is there a realm of the women's body more deserving of luxury? Seriously!

And the "ick" factor? You know what? It's not that bad! (I suppose you might want to remember that I am not bothered by the ick factor of cloth diapering, either, so I guess it's all relative.) But honestly, caring for my mama cloth is no big deal. There are several options, but I personally like to soak mine in cold water and then just wash them in my regular laundry. They can be thrown in with your diaper laundry as well. And the soaking water makes a great drink for your plants!

As I skimmed around the web, I found this great article at Wikipedia that explains the details far better than I could, and I highly recommend perusing it to find out more.

So back to my fluffy mail . . . I took a few side-by-side shots to further illustrate why I am so excited to have some mama cloth to get through my upcoming postpartum weeks. This picture shows how much more aesthetically alluring mama cloth is as compared to your average disposable pad:Now really, who could argue the pretty factor? This was just one choice of a plethora Rosie at RCD offers. The possibilities are endless. The side that is showing is the side that will face away from my body. Let's take a look at the insides:I'm sure each of you are familiar with the inside of a disposable pad - that plasticky netting that covers layers of paper (and chemicals) and is surrounded by fantastically painful adhesive. Good times. What you may not have experienced is the amazingly soft feel of silky microfleece against your skin. Inside a cloth pad are layers of some sort of textile (cotton, hemp, etc) that do the work of absorption - no chemicals here! And you can choose from several options to make the whole pad leak-proof. I like my pads to have wings, so rather than frustrating and irritating adhesive, my pads have simple snaps that help the pad to stay in place. You can also find contour (no wing) pads if that is your preference.

Finally, when was the last time you opened a pack of Always and discovered a thank you note from the company?

I look forward to hearing from ya'll on this and welcome questions and comments!