Photo courtesy of Lunapads.com
At risk of tempting the universe, I’m going to put it out there: my last period was in August 2008. I got pregnant about two weeks after, and since then, have not had a single bout of menstruation. My child will be fourteen months on the 27th, and, just to remind everyone, it’s May 2010. Jasper has started to wean, but part of me wants to keep going until August just to make it two full years.

I was getting a little antsy about this, because I think nearly everyone I know who had a baby around the time I did has their period back. Some of them are still breastfeeding, and some of them aren’t. Some of them never breastfed, so it’s no surprise there. Anyway, I started doing some online research, and here is what I’ve found:

  • While not super common, if you’re breastfeeding, it’s totally normal for your period to still be MIA fourteen months after giving birth. In fact, there are numerous instances in which menstruation does not resume until eighteen, twenty, or even twenty-four months postpartum.
  • If you aren’t nursing overnight, but are breastfeeding during the day, your period is probably going to come back before or around 20 weeks. It seems that overnight feedings, coupled with your unique hormone levels and arrangements, are what keeps the period at bay.
  • If your period HAS come back and it’s been super heavy (like it’s necessary to use tampons AND pads, for example) for months on end, there is evidence that acupuncture treatments can help regulate your cycle.

So, now I know: I’m (most likely, barring any major medical conditions I’m unaware of right now) ok.

My question for YOU, Offbeat Mamas, is this: what are good alternatives to plastic pads and tampons?

Pre-baby, I always used whatever came wrapped in pink (or green) and sold by the dozen or two. Meaning, I always used plastic menstruation items. I never even thought about cotton alternatives until five or so months ago, when I was at a local store that sells them. At the time, I was politely bemused by the idea, but convinced they could never be strong enough. Once my period nightmares (about it coming back) started a few weeks ago, I started re-visiting the idea.

I know about the DivaCup. I don’t know exactly how it works, though I get the general idea. Lunapads seem like an alternative I can work with, but $17 a pop is a bit pricey (though I suppose spending $5 each month for the next twenty to thirty years, it would all even out). I visited the websites for Pandora Pads and Glad Rags, and am now more overwhelmed than ever. Too many choices!

You know where I’m not sure I can boldly go? To Lunapanties land.

So, riddle me this, Mamas: have you tried Lunapanties? Would you? Also, what did you pick–Lunapads, Glad Rags, or Pandora, or something else?

Comments on How are you dealing with your postpartum period woes?

  1. I personally can’t wrap my head around cloth pads (or the disposable ones for that matter), I keep thinking it would feel too much like a diaper. I am a DivaCup lover… it has become a girl necessity for me.

  2. I LOVE my DivaCup. It revolutionized that time of the month for me. It takes a while to adjust to the fit and feeling, but after a few periods it isn’t noticable and very easy to use.
    Fingers crossed I will still love it after the entire baby/birthing experience.

    • I just got my period back (11 months exactly) and the Diva Cup is still working fine. I’m having a few insertion issues but I’m pretty sure that’s the good old learning curve (i.e. just how much of my hand needs to be in my vagina for this to sit right?). They do have another size for women who have had children but I don’t seem to need it.

    • Ok, a question (and this could be kind of dumb, but I’m just wondering): do you use ONE cup the whole period, just rinsing it and whatnot, or do you buy several cups and change them out?

      • You use one cup the whole time and just rinse it out when need be. It works great and I love it!!

      • I just boil mine in water for a few minutes at the beginning of my period to give it a good clean. And then, like Lisa said, you just rinse it out when you empty it.

    • Ditto! I love it. I bought the DivaWash (but I’ve also used regular hand soap too – not sure that’s recommended or not?!) – I only use that before I put it in at the start. During my bleeding, I just empty, rinse with hot water and put back in.

  3. Still have not had my rag at 12 months Post partum. But before baby I used a combo of gladrags and diva cup, and its likely I will use the same when the red beast returns.

    • I read that nursing at night is basically what keeps the period at bay! So I guess whenever Jazz night weans is when mine will come back. UGH.

  4. I have a question for the DivaCup users. What do you do when you know you won’t have access to a private bathroom? Do you just resign yourself to using regular tampons that day? For women who work outside the home, this could be the majority of their period days.

    • If I have to empty my cup in a stall, I wipe the cup with toilet paper instead of rinsing it and re-insert.

      • I do the same, and if my hands are dirty, I wipe them clean too. Or I may not empty it at all, if I don’t think I need to.

        • I do the same. And I usually have a wet wipe in my bag. I would recommend not doing this until you’ve tried emptying it at home several times and can do it without making a mess. It took me a few tries to get the hang of it 🙂

          If I’m going to be somewhere with a portaporty or crazy bathrooms (like a theme park), I go the disposable route.

          Oh, and I have a Diva Cup and a Keeper. I like them both and use them interchangeably.

    • It is my understanding that you do not have to empty the diva cup as often as you would typically change a pad or tampon. I think you can have it in for up to 12 hours.

      With that in mind, you may be able to go the entire day without having to empty in a public restroom.

    • I usually empty mine once every 24 hours (I think I have fairly normal periods; I usually used 3-4 regular tampons a day before i switched to my divacup), and so I’ve never had to empty mine in a public bathroom. I just do it in the shower and avoid any mess entirely.

    • I also just wipe it with toilet paper and re-insert. It really isn’t too much of an issue. We have stalls at work and I empty it once during the work day on my heavy days.

    • I’m one of those girls with a very heavy first day and relatively light days thereafter, so on day one I’m emptying the cup every few hours. Because of that, I either use regular tampons on the first day or do the toilet paper thing… after that, I can leave the cup in all day when I’m at work with no problem.

      • Ditto this. There’s usually one day of my period where I need to empty the cup once or twice in the middle of the day, and after that it’s once in the morning and once in the evening.

    • This is coming from a someone who has not yet experienced post-baby menstruation, but before I got pregnant I was a pretty heavy bleeder, and there was never a time that I HAD TO empty my Diva while out and about or at work. Sometimes I’d do it because I thought I was cutting it close, but then I’d be surprised to learn that it holds way more than I thought it does. But yeah. I’d wipe it out in the stall, go rinse it when I’m done and go back in the stall. Kind of a pain but NOT worth switching back to tampons for a day. I’ll never go back! Neverrrr!!!

    • you can also take a bottle of water in the stall with you (the kind you have to squeeze to the get water to come out work best as you get some pressure) and use that to rinse it before re-inserting it.

    • I consider that blood is pretty clean when it’s relatively fresh (ie inside your body), so just pour out and re-insert as quickly as possible without it coming into contact with anything other than my (clean) hands. Then wipe my fingers with tp. I have to do this many times a day and I’ve never had any problem.
      I’m more comfortable with this than risking instroducing outside things like tp fragments to my insides.

    • Yeah, I just dump it into the toilet, maybe wipe clean with TP and re-insert. No biggie. I also read this great story once where someone was in a public toilet and a girl in the stalls just yelled – “I’m coming out to wash my menstrual cup, if anyone’s gonna be grossed out, close your eyes!” and it ended up being totally fine, with a bunch of people getting educated about the existence of menstrual cups. I would guess that would depend a lot on where the public toilet is.

  5. I had a Keeper for a while but had to switch to DivaCup because I was allergic to the Keper material. It is fantastic! I have had some issues with it not fitting right (just a matter of trying out a different brand) but it has worked very well to reduce the number of pads I use. Highly recommended.

    (I’ve never given birth, but see no reason why it wouldn’t work beautifully for someone post-partum)

  6. I’m going to have to agree on the Divacup. You have to learn to put it in properly, the same way you have to learn to put a tampon in properly, but once you figure out what works, it’s incredible. The best part is if you’re on HBC or charting, or otherwise know about which day your period will come, you can just put in your Divacup that morning and never have to have that “Oh-no-need-to-find-a-bathroom-right-now” feeling–without any ill effects should your period NOT come that day (the feeling of pulling out a dry tampon, youch!)

  7. I’ve had three periods so far since June 2008 (It was a nice run, that’s for sure.), and I got a Diva Cup right when my first postpartum period started. My last period was pretty heavy, and I had major problems with getting it situated right so it wouldn’t leak. I’m probably going to give it one or two more cycles before trying something else. I work outside the home, so for my first two, lighter periods, I think I managed to only empty it one time in the bathroom at work. As jehara said, I just used some TP to clean it out (though walking out of a stall with hands like a crime scene perpetrator was kind of weird–these things are messy, right?). I LOVE the idea of emptying it in the shower. Why the heck didn’t I think of that sooner?! Though I don’t think I could go 24 hours without emptying. A couple of other brands I’ve heard of (in addition to the Keeper) are the MiaCup (http://www.miacup.co.za/) and the Meluna (http://www.femininewear.co.uk/menstrual-cups-c-15.html).

    As for the Lunapanties–no freaking way. I can get on board with cloth pads–in fact, I’ve been considering ordering some so I can quit using disposable pads as “backup” against leaks with the Diva Cup. But I couldn’t just rock out in the same pair of period-undies all day. And I’m not all about multiple underwear changes throughout the day. I can’t imagine the motive behind this design. I guess if you have no idea when your period is coming, you’ll constantly be prepared for it…?

    • Hey there, first off I must disclose that Lunapads are both clients and dear friends of mine, but I’ll also say that I came to know the owners through first trying and loving their products over 10 years ago.

      I just had my first baby (a little girl) 13 weeks ago and I actually have to respectfully say that Lunapanties are a preggo and post-partum gals dream. To clarify though, you don’t really use them as an all day heavy flow thing. To get really specific, it’s not like you use nothing else and wear the same pair of period undies on your heaviest day. I used to use them as backup for a diva cup, or as the only thing I’d use on the last very light flow day of my period. That said, if too much leaked through I’d change them half way through the day. The “Deluxe” model which allows you to just change a liner that sits on top is perfect for this kind of thing to.

      But for those of us currently between our periods, ie/ pregnant or not yet back on board after having a baby, Lunapanties have become my favourite underwear. I personally wore the thong style through my pregnancy and they were great for the luekorrhea (ie/ extra discharge) during my pregnancy, and they were great for the final weeks of my post-partum bleeding. For the first few weeks I was using full on pads (also Lunapads), but once I hit about week 4 when I was really just spotting I was so happy to get rid of the extra bulk and switch back into my Lunapanties. Again, I went with the thong style as that’s my preference, but they’ve got other styles as well (bikini, brief etc). I was so very happy to get back to basically regular underwear with just a little bit of extra padding, it was one of the things that made me feel like my body may one day actually get back to normal.

      • I love Lunapads. I like to wear Lunapanties at night during the first few days of my period when the flow is super heavy. I have a menstrual cup (Lunette), but it’s never really been comfortable to me. I am so sensitive during my period, I don’t want ANYTHING up there.

        The products are pricey, but I’ve tried other reusable menstrual pads and it’s my favorite brand.

        To me, it’s the same logic as using cloth diapers for your babies. It’s more comfortable and it’s better for the environment. What’s not to get?

  8. I just got my first post baby period at 6.5 months, which I attribute to not being able to pump as frequently at work as I’d like, so I’m in the same boat. I’m a big fan of the menstrual cups–I used a Keeper pre baby but am switching to the Divacup now due to the latex nature of the Keeper and some dubious ethical business practices of that company. I have a couple of Gladrags too that I use as back up–they are not thick really, and are very discreet. I find I have to empty about 2-3 times in a 24 hour period, but often I work my 12 hour shifts and am fine on all except the heaviest day.

    Off all the pads, I think the Lunapads appealed to me most–I like their design (you just change the top liner usually) and I find the gladrags are just a little too short in the regular size and too long in the overnight size for me.

    Good luck!

  9. I have a Mooncup – same principle. So great. There is a wealth of info on the Livejournal menstrual cups page if you need more details or some troubleshooting help.

  10. Before I got pregnant, I too was a DivaCup user. I love it. I only have to empty it once a day. It’s kind of exciting to see how many people use the DivaCup. I didn’t realize they were so popular.

    • I know, right, I just keep scrolling and seeing “Diva Cup, Diva Cup, Diva Cup.” It’s exciting. Haha.

      • I would *never* use a DivaCup. A friend of mine just had to give up hers after the first use because it caused a vaginal prolapse. No thank you. I’ll take store-bought pads and tampons over my vag falling out any day! Lol

        • Vaginal prolapse? Yikes. How? I used menstrual cups for almost ten years until the leaking got too bad for for me. I have scoliosis and I have just enough of a tilt to the vaginal canal that I could never quite get a good seal. I really regret not being able to use the cup, though, since I loved almost everything about it.

          I plan on using cloth postpartum (2 more weeks now!) and I found a small etailer called gemcloth that makes really nice pads for a good price.

        • Not that I’m discounting your friend’s experience, but I too would be interested in knowing how use of a cup caused vaginal prolapse. From what I understand, it’s caused by weakening of the muscles and ligaments. I don’t think menstrual cup use is supposed to be a factor, though I could be wrong.

          • I guess her doctor told her that it can potentially be caused by the suction the Diva Cup can create in some women. So, when it happened, it was after a few days of wearing it, and when she took it out, her cervix apparently followed. She was told to stop using it immediately, start doing Kegels, and never put it back in.

          • Old thread, I know, but…

            Since the amount of suction involved in using a menstrual cup is minimal, I think your friend’s doctor was misinformed. (Unfortunately, many are… I’ve heard of doctors thinking that they could cause retrograde menstruation because they wouldn’t leak when full. Um, this cup user can tell you definitively that they leak when full!)

            If you’re concerned, just be sure to break the (small amount of) suction before you remove the cup. It’s a matter of pinching the base, refolding the cup or pushing a finger up to the top of the cup, depending on the brand/your anatomy.

  11. I love my mooncup. I started with a Diva cup a few years ago, and while I liked the idea, it was never quite as comfortable, cause it was a little too long, even with the stem trimmed all the way. About a year ago, I switched to a silicone mooncup, and it is so much more comfortable.

    They do take a few months to get comfortable with, but I will never ever go back to pads or tampons.

  12. I’ve been using the sadly-discounted FuzziBunz cloth pads, and I love them. I’ve had less cramping, and they’re a million times more absorbent. It’s kinda weird to adjust to, but I can’t imagine ever going back, you know?

    I’ve not tried any other brands, or the DivaCup — though I mean to at some point! I really want to buy some of these when I get a chance; they were well-loved on another forum I read.

      • For me the
        diva cup does – I always found tampons made a
        difference for cramps versus pads, and the diva cup seriously relieves cramps for me more than tampons. I have them worst during my first heavy flow day and I feel the difference if I forgot my
        diva cup.

  13. I have tried every brand of cloth out there – and the only ones that didn’t leak for me were http://www.homesteademporium.com and http://www.partypantspads.com. I didn’t have good luck with the luna pads – I found them very uncomfortable. Homestead Emporium was great – she actually asked me a bunch of questions and then recommended a type of pad I never would have purchased and they are now my favorites. I purchased one of her custom slots and she was super to work with.

  14. before gettin pregs (sept 2007) i used the diva cup for 2 cycles. i was just starting to get the hang of it and then got pregs….so i didn’t try again until spring time of 2009 when i started on birthcontrol again. it was a lot harder to use after having a baby for some reason and i just couldn’t get it situated right. instead i tried the natural sea sponges, which work OK most times but i still had leakage problems. i went off b-control a few months later and i didn’t get “real” period until A YEAR LATER just a few months ago! and then it went away again. …i am still breastfeeding (’round the clock it seems)and so who knows when it will come back.

  15. I used the keeper pre-baby for 10 years, and I have a Diva Cup post-baby. I always use cloth pads as back up, and I know I’ve saved a lot of money over the past 10 years, even though I paid a lot in the beginning.

    My advice is to buy a couple cloth pads/lunapanties to start with, and then more when your finances are ready.

    My favorites I found before my baby was born, and they are hemp next to the skin, and wool next to panties. I’ve never had any problems with leak-thru, and I bought them to use as postpartum pads. I love them best. They’re from a little hippie store in Garberville, CA that I wish I could remember the name of so I can order more.

    I’ve also used microfleece and lunapads.

    If you’re remotely crafty, you can make them really easily.

  16. I can’t believe no one has mentioned PIMPs! (Party in my Pants). I switched to them about a year ago and other than heavy flow overnight they work great for me and are way more absorbant than you would expect.

    • I have used PIMPs (www.partypantspads.com) for the past seven years and have never looked back. They are my favorite cloth pads ever and I love that the company is owned by a pair of super cute sisters who do everything themselves.

      For things like swimming, etc., during my period, I’ve been using sea sponges for the past five years. Anyone else use these?

      And nope, haven’t gotten my period yet, and it’s been almost 3 months since the babe was born, but I, too, am breastfeeding at night.

  17. I am an Instead Soft Cup user. LOVE THEM. I know they are similar to a diva cup, but I’ve never been able to transition over. I just like the idea that I can have sex with them in (nothing hanging down) and they aren’t a tampon (which are completely uncomfortable to me post-baby). 🙂

    • I didn’t even think about whether or not I could have sex with a DivaCup in, so thanks for bringing that up. I’m checking out the Instead cups! 🙂

      • You really can’t have sex with a Diva Cup in. However, my favorite thing about the Diva Cup is that, unlike tampons, it doesn’t absorb absolutely every liquid your body puts out. Since it just collects whatever fluid appears, your vagina just retains its normal level of wetness. This could be…beneficial…to having sex.

    • Do you (or anyone) know if the moon/diva/whatever cups are smaller than the Instead Soft Cups? I love the idea and the product, but the Insteads just don’t fit well. They’re supposed to sit behind the pubic bone and they don’t.
      I’d be interested in trying the divacup, but I’m concerned about the size.

      (I’m very comfortable with putting them in and I know they’re in as far back as possible. My cervix and I are on friendly terms, so that’s not the problem.)

      • All the other menstrual cups have a significantly smaller diameter than Instead cups. I had the same issue with Instead, but I love my Divacup.

        • I have the opposite problem–I love Instead and can’t feel it while it is in (the diameter is not a problem for me), but all the reusable cups look so long. Does anybody know of reusable cups that are flat (like Instead) instead of tubelike or tampon-shaped (Diva cup)?

          • There aren’t any, because the way that reusable cups fit is completely different from the way that the Instead cup fits.

      • reusable cups are more shaped like an eggcup. Have a google to see what they look like. They’re totally different to instead cups.

  18. ‘Party in my pants’ all the way. They are thin (like an always ultrathin) superabsorbent (more so than always) and really comfortable. And the bottom layer is waterproof to avoid soakthroughs.

    • This is my favorite comment because you used “party in my pants.” AWESOME. 🙂

  19. Diva cup!!! I had difficulties with insertion and getting it properly situated, so I use one of the alternative methods – instead of folding it in half, you take one part of the rim and push it down inside the cup. You’ll wind up with a nice blunt point for insertion, and it pops open more easily, for me at least. I also empty mine in the shower in the morning, and then again at night in the toilet, when I have plenty of time for clean-up if things get messy.

  20. I love my keeper – it’s like a diva cup almost exactly, just a different brand. I’ve had it for almost six years, but now I’m pregnant. I will certainly be ordering a ‘postpartum’ diva cup or keeper. It was like $30, comfy enough, and lasted six years. At $5 a month I would have spent $360 on disposables. I saves a lot of money and landfill space. I also preferred putting a keeper in my body than tampons. Amazingly, I always had it packed when I needed it. I’d also like to order or make a bunch of lunapads for after the baby comes.
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/make_your_own_pad.php – how to make your own reusable pads.. cool!

  21. I might be flogging a dead horse here but I also LOVE my divacup! Granted…it took me a few cycles to fully get used to it, but now it’s second nature. I started using mine when I was 17 and only had to finally replace it when I lost it. Even post-baby I still fit a size 1 with no leaks, except that I usually use extra protection on the first day. I use the thinner liners from my sons cloth diapers as back up! Also, just a side note: at first I was having a lot of difficulty getting it OUT! I have come to realize that if you take a square of TP and use that to grab onto the little “stem” it makes it WAY easier. This is THE best purchase I have ever made and I recommend it to every lady in my life! At the risk of TMI, I also often use it while I’m ovulating to save my undies from the..you know…egg whites.

  22. While I haven’t had a baby yet (but am TTC), I am a huge fan of the Diva Cup. I have had mine since 2003! It’s saved me a couple of hundred dollars by now at least not to mention all that waste from the boxes and little plastic wrappings on tampons. One thing that I love about it is how great it is for travel. I can go away for the weekend during my period and not have to think about a thing or try to figure out how many tampons to bring with me. I do occasionally have a problem of leaking if my time of heaviest flow comes at night. I just sleep on top of a towel then.

  23. I hate (hate, Hate, HATE) using any kind of pads. It makes me really uncomfortable. I think it’s because my periods go really wonky. I don’t have a constant flow anymore. It just comes out in clumps and therefore doesn’t get a chance to soak into them properly. Anyone else have that issue? I couldn’t get used to any of the cups I tried, so I stick with o.b. tampons. They have limited plastic wrap and no applicators, so I feel less guilty about the waste.

    • I totally feel like an outsider because of this, too, but I’m pretty uncomfortable with the cups. I never, never, never use pads, only tampons – I was a competitive swimmer in high school. I think o.b. tampons are nice because there is less waste, but I worry just as much about chemicals. Natracare is another no-applicator brand and they aren’t bleached with chlorine and are totally biodegradable, but they’re more expensive. I stick with the o.b. since you can get them almost anywhere.

      • Ditto to this. I use the o.b. no applicator tampons, and the cup products just generally give me the heebie-jeebies. I think I could do it if I had an autoclave, or some sort of designated “period cup cleaning area” but I can NOT abide by sterilizing something that collects bodily fluids in the same place I make food.

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