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 love my mooncup! I started using a Mooncup (like a Diva cup http://www.mooncup.co.uk/) when I moved to Scotland last fall and discovered I couldn’t find my favorite tampons. While insertion takes a little practice (and yeah, occasionally I ask myself, like GA said, exactly how much of my hand I have to put in my vagina to get it all situated), but I love it. I SO love it. I spend less money on my period, and my vagina is so much happier (no unpleasant drying effects from tampons for me, no ma’am!) Finally, I feel better about life in general because I am not contributing so much more waste to landfills.

  2. I tried and hated the cups, but then I don’t use tampons either. Feel much more comfortable in pads, believe it or not. I do use and love my cloth pads, though. You can find them pretty darn cheap on Etsy and HyenaCart.

  3. Go with a menstrual cup! You’ll never want anything else. I personally have a DivaCup, which I purchased mainly because it was the easiest to find (the Whole Foods by me carries them) but also because it is made of silicone which is the least porous material and thus the least resistant to harboring nasty bacteria or um “leftovers”. It rinses really well, I only rinse with hot water during use, and then on the last day after I’m done and ready to put it away I use hot water and soap. (soap in the “area” – not good)

    this site

    http://femchoices.blogspot.com/2005/07/methods-to-insert-menstrual-cup.html

    has some great photos of different ways to fold it for easy insertion.

  4. I am not postpartum, but I like the silicone Keeper. It is a LONG learning curve, at least it was for me – it took about 6 cycles (yes, 6 MONTHS) for it to be comfortable and to not leak. And on my heaviest days I have to empty it about every 3 hours. However, on pads I had to change them every couple of hours, so that’s a slight improvement.

    I usually take a damp paper towel into the stall with me if I have to empty it in a public stall, mostly to wipe my hands. That’s it. It’s easy-peasy!

    I was NEVER able to use tampons – within an hour of putting one in, I would start to develop symptoms of TSS. But using the Keeper I have (slightly) lighter periods, little to NO PMS, and NO cramping. I’ll take it!

  5. I am absolutely a Diva Cup wearer. It works super for me whether my period is really heavy or light. I too boil mine before my period and after, just to make sure it is super clean. No complaints here.

  6. Um, I got a flannel shirt from the thrift store and cut it up into rectangles and use it as pads. Soft and comfy, absorbant, and makes paying for cloth pads seem ridiculous. Also I can cut out different sizes for different levels of flow–I have a big rectangle for night, and smaller ones for daytime. I’ve never had an issue with it getting dislodged, but if you’re worried, you could safety pin it to your underpants. You can rinse them out and use them again immediately, or just make enough that you can toss them all in the wash when your period’s done. The only time I have any discomfort with them is when I’m riding my bike.

  7. Mark me down as another Diva Cup woman. LOVE mine. I love that I don’t have to take anything extra with me when I go out and I don’t leave anything behind me either (which is especially nice if I have to empty it while visiting friends). There is a learning curve. But once I got past that it was perfect. It’s been more than two years since I bought it, so the cost per month is getting down to almost a dollar at this point. The savings over pads and tampons is incredible.

  8. I just gotta say, I’m loving all the reusable menstrual product love going on here. It’s great to see so many women who’ve made the switch!
    I noticed there is some confusion over Lunapanties and since they are a relatively new concept to most women I thought I’d explain a little.
    Basically Lunapanties are a pair of Organic cotton underwear with a Lunapad built right into the crotch. You can add and remove liner inserts as needed, so there’s no need to change the underwear throughout the day, just swap out the liner for a fresh one. They really cut down on the bulk of a traditional underwear/cloth pad combo.
    I also thought I’d let y’all know that the DivaCup is 15% off right now on Lunapads.com so if anyone’s considering it, it’s a great time to take the plunge!

  9. I totally LOVE my keeper! They come in before and after birth sizes. You can order them on the keeper’s website. The diva cup is a little bit harder, and the keeper is softer, so if you have a sensitive um, area, the keeper is better. I highly recommend it!

  10. i love the diva cup, but have made my own pads before and they work alright too. the diva cup saves money and is easy to use.

  11. Huh, I have to wonder why the diva cup is so much more popular than the keeper. I have been usung the keeper for almost 7 years. I had some trouble with leaking for a few years but that stopped for some reason. I love it, and couldn’t live without it. I suppose I am a fan of the keeper because it is less porous than the diva cup but I suppose the fact that the material is firmer is the drawback for many people. Whatever works for you!

    As far as cotton pads go, I made a bunch using upcycled flannel shirts from a thrift store. I still have then and they still work! I have a few of the store bought cotton pads and they are much thicker and more absorbent for heavier nights, but that is rare.

    Good luck Ariel and I am so glad to see so many people embracing non-disposables! Of course, I still use organic cotton tampons occasionally 🙂

  12. I’m an offbeat stepmama, and therefore have never given birth. But I just wanted to chime in and say that sea pearls sea sponge tampons absolutely changed my life. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but then again, maybe not. If you’re comfortable with your body and what comes out of it (as I’m sure anyone who’s been pregnant has had to learn to be if they weren’t already), they’re terrific. They come in different sizes and you can trim them a bit if need be. I love that this topic is being discussed, hooray for non-disposables! http://www.jadeandpearl.com is great, not sure if its been mentioned yet.

  13. I breastfeed around the clock and got my period back exactly 4 weeks after stopping bleeding postpartum. NO FAIR!! I guess that is why many people in my family have babies exactly a year apart… very quick return to the cycle.

  14. I’ve never given birth (heck, I’m not even sexually active) but I must join the Diva Cup supporters. I looked into sea sponges and Moon Cup but I could get a Diva Cup in town and went with that. It’s been great. As for helping with cramps, I read somewhere that because it’s not right up against your cervix like a tampon, it’s not interfering with the flow and my cramps haven’t been as bad with the Diva.

    It’s been interesting reading about what all you moms use and the potential problems with all of this. Very informative! Thanks!

  15. Hey, I already commented and am a faithful divacup user but I was just wondering…I had never noticed that it helped with any “symptoms” of my cycle. I guess I get how it helps with cramps, like what Heidi Aphrodite said, but some people mentioned that it helps with PMS and makes your period lighter and I’m not sure I get that. Maybe I’m just missing something. Can someone explain?

    • I’ve been using the divacup for over 5 years now. It has never changed anything about my period, or symptoms. It simply allows me to go longer without having to run to the bathroom to change and less leakage.

  16. im not a mama but i have spent the better part of 2 years on a journey to have a better period.

    this is what i know;
    -Organ(y)c is a company that makes a good “in between” product, they are 100% cotton but disposable. when i talk to women about how much of a difference cotton makes i suggest they start with these.
    -if you want to try the reusable cotton get them on etsy i got mine for around $2-$5, and you can have them specially made just for you.
    -experiment- try all sorts of things, i went way back in time and used rags, honestly rags. and they work the best for me. i even had some made that are 2 terrycloth layers and pretty flannel, i got 15 for $20

    i had the most awful periods ever until i quit using the disposable products, i hardly have cramps at all anymore, I’m less anxious about leaks and smells. I’ll also note that i am an Olympic style weightlifter and have never had any problems in the gym using these products so i think you can do just about anything with them.

    don’t get tied up in the idea that you have to do it one way or the other. good luck finding what works for you.

  17. Glad Rags are just freaking great! I’m a heavy overnight bleeder and I love their overnight pads. To finally stop leaking, and not have that disgusting wet-plasticky feeling of a disposable pad, and do things a little better for the environment… YAY.

    Also while pregnant I’ve been using their mini-pad sized ones, without the stuffing though. My discharge has been pretty intense and is harder to clean out than non-preggo discharge.

    My alternatives-to-tampons experiences have been laughable. I mean, hilarious, like blood spattering all over a whole bathroom of white tile. So I mostly use Gladrags, sometimes NatraCare or o.b. tampons, and sometimes disposable pads when travelling.

    Glad Rags people are here: http://www.gladrags.com/s-5-about-us.aspx

  18. Just wanted to chime in as another Keeper user. I’ve been a keeper user for 11 years (just got my second last year!) and I can’t see myself ever going back. I use cloth pads for my first heavy night as a back-up (I have a bunch of pads I made, and I’ve also bought pads at a local crunchy-granola type health store). When needed (usually just the first day) I empty it in a toilet and use toilet paper to wipe it. Most days, I just empty once or twice a day (usually in the shower in the morning, which makes clean-up very easy).

    I found it very easy to get used to, and really have nothing bad to say about it.

  19. The Diva Cup changed my life. I wasted too many years buying tampons. I try to tell everyone about it, at first most are skeptical but if you give it a shot it can really be life altering. To think of all those times when I was a waitress and had to run to the bathroom every hour or two to change my tampon in the middle of a busy Saturday night shift!!! when I have my cup on I can go 5-6 hours without changing. I also like the lady cup.
    I wish more women would try these instead of being weirded out by these products. Oh well, it’s their loss, really.

  20. I have tried a variety of many different brands of cloth pads, but I must say that Swaddlebees (the ones in the main picture for this post!) are my favorite, hands down. I have the organic cotton with polyurethane laminate backing ones and I have never had a leak, even on my heaviest of days. I bought a tub of Oxo-Brite from my local “green” retailer about a year ago for around 11 bucks to whiten them when needed, and it works like a charm. The cotton looks clean and white every time I pull them out of the dryer. They have also held up extremely well – no pilling or signs of wear that I have experienced with other brands.

    Many people have a serious fear of cloth pads because they imagine that it will be like wearing a diaper, but now that I’ve tried them, I could never go back. It’s like wearing cushy organic cotton on your panties instead of petroleum-based plastics and chlorine-bleached paper… something that has been proven to contain dioxins linked to cancer in women. For me, the choice is easy.

  21. Party in my Pants!!! They are the best cloth pads in my opinion. A wonderful choice of fabrics, and fairly cheap. I also use a Diva Cup, but have grown to like my PIMPs much better.

  22. I’ve been using the Keeper for about 3 years now, and I love it! Like many others I struggled a bit the first few months to get the hang of it, but I knew I would love it from the first time I tried it.
    And it has seriously changed my period experience: I have almost no cramps now, my period lasts for 4 days (as opposed to 6 when I used tampons) and I hardly think about the fact that I’m on my period. It’s so great to not have to worry about leaks or that horrible tampon smell.
    Seriously, I cannot recommend this product enough!

  23. I’m another Diva Cup user. (No babies yet, but will probably start TTC next year). It instantly eliminated that whole “trying to sleep without wiggling around and with trying to remember to keep your legs closed and lay on your back” situation. And I mean INSTANTLY.

    Love at first insertion.

    I can sit cross-legged on the floor with no leaking worries, I can roll around, I can do anything I want to without that constant chirping in the back of my mind that’s reminding me to be careful.

    I use organic cotton panty liners, those really thin little ones, just for “just in case” purposes, but I don’t actually need them.

    And if you put the cup in on the morning you know you’ll get your period there’s less of a “mess” situation when you take it out to dump it because everything was contained from the very start.

  24. I love that we can openly talk about menstration without being embarassed or condescending. When I asked a question about “period during wedding day” on a popular site I was attacked by most of the members (comments such as “if you’re going to be a baby, wear a diaper) and told I was vulgar (uh, because it’s not a natural thing all women experience??), so it is great to get some genuine answers to questions I’ve been asking for the nine years since I started my period! Thanks ladies! 🙂

    That being said, I feel mother nature cheated me! I started my period one week after I stopped my post partum bleeding… and yes, I was breast feeding. Grrr. Anyway, if I were you I wouldn’t switch back to the disposable kind, if you can help it. I am still using disposable pads, but after this post, not anymore!

    Two questions for anyone who cares to answer:
    #1 I hate putting anything inside me so I love the idea of cloth pads, but what do you do when you’re in public? I have a heavy flow and am out & about most of the time, so I couldn’t fathom wearing the same one all day!

    #2 As far as the DivaCup goes, how do you know what size to choose? What’s the difference between “pre & post baby”? Not much has seemed to change since then? Even slim fit tampons are uncomfortable, so should I not even attempt?

    Thanks!

    And good luck Stephanie! I think every woman hates the idea of menstration, especially after child birth.

    • Hi Halle,

      From what I understand, it is still very important to chose the Model 2 or “post-baby” Diva Cup if you have had a baby vaginally or caesarean, or if you are over 30. The difference between the two sizes isn’t much, but it can be enough to cause leakage issues.

      I’m the same way about putting something in my body, not sure why. Even prior to “greening” my monthly period, I was never into tampons, so it made perfect since to use cloth pads.

      In response to your question about how to handle cloth pads in public, it’s easy! I’m a busy working woman with two jobs and I go to school, too! So if they weren’t easy, trust me, I wouldn’t be doing it!

      Many retailers sell small “wet bags” for used pads. Or you can just do what I did and buy some tiny wet bags from a cloth diaper retailer. I bought a Ju-Ju-Be BeQuick for $15 and it has been a GREAT investment. Cloth pads fold up nicely and some of them can be snapped shut (depending on the size). Then I just toss them in my BeQuick and that’s it! Washing them is really easy – warm wash/cold rinse with Purex Free & Clear has worked for me for the past few years. Occasionally, if they retain an odor, you can soak them in a mixture of half water/half vinegar for about an hour and they will come out smelling great again. And Oxo-Brite is a great natural stain remover that you might have to treat them with once every now and then if you notice staining.

      I hope I didn’t make cloth pads sound too intimidating! I really do love using them and look forward to my period each month (believe it or not) because of all the cute prints/colors. Plus it feels really comforting not to be putting plastic pads against my baby-maker all day!

      • Different bodies are different – many people on the menstrualcups.org site have reported using the small cups postpartum successfully (or even 17-year-old virgins using the larger cups). It has to do with so many factors – age, parity, personal anatomical weirdness, heaviness of flow – that just putting an age limit on there doesn’t really capture sizing well!

        However, the size differences are due to the fact that your pelvic floor muscles do change after pregnancy. So there’s that to consider!

    • I totally agree with you! The discussion here is AMAZING to me! I had no clue it would be this awesome.

      And I also agree with you about putting tampons and whatnot inside–that’s what kind of wigs me out about the DivaCup. I don’t like tampons because I get little symptoms of TSS (my mother has experienced TSS, so I’m extra paranoid), and I reeeeally don’t want to go back to plastic pads. I might look up some cloth pads on etsy and see if I can get a deal!

      And I also would like to know the answer to your first one! Maybe you carry a bag or something to store it in?

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