Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ditched my Diva, Glad I bought my Rags

Disclaimer:  This post is about period products, not about parenting.  It will contain graphic discussion of menstruation, etc.  You have been warned.

When I think of the benefits of breastfeeding, it isn't just the nutrition or bonding that comes to mind.  No, I rejoice that it kept my cycles at bay for exactly 14 months every single time.  It isn't that I believe periods are a Curse on anything.  In fact, I really, really want to love my body and honor my moontime.  The problem is that my periods always involved very heavy flow, cramps and leaking.  It is hard to be a flowers-and-rainbows-hippie-mama when all you really want to do is devour chocolate like a rabid beast.

Between pregnancies and breastfeeding, I only had six cycles over nine years.  (Thank you, lactational amenorrhea!)  But once they were back for good (well, at least for another decade or so), I decided I wanted to stop using disposables.  For one thing, they are expensive.  For another, I really disliked the idea of all those chemicals next to my yoni.  I have had allergic reactions in the past, and besides, my hooha deserves better than paper.

So I read up on all the cool reusable products that are out there.  Several of my friends were happy with the Diva Cup, it wasn't too expensive, and it sounded like a great idea.  Like a tampon, only better (and never moldy :shudder).  I know some people get squicked out by the idea of emptying it, but really?  If the idea of eating placenta doesn't gross me out, I knew I'd be fine with the contents of the cup.  (Another disclaimer:  I didn't actually eat my placenta, but everything that I have read about it makes it sound like it could be a great thing for many women).

I ordered the size for women who have already given birth.  Maybe there should be a different size for women who have given birth four times?  (Cheap cracks about Kegels are Not Appreciated, thankyouverymuch).  I folded it into the requisite shapes, but after a few minutes it always became uncomfortable.  I cut off the stem that seemed to be poking me to no avail.  I read about turning it inside out and other contortions, how to twist and turn for proper suction (and um, yeah, that is a little squicky to me, even though I recognize the necessity and all), but nothing seemed to help.  With regret, I decided to ditch my Diva.

I had initially steered away from the idea of cloth pads for several reasons.  The biggest one is that I am a cloth diaper drop out.  I loved my Fuzzi Bunz for the two middle kidlets and they pretty much never used 'sposies, but by the time our fourth was here, I had no energy for extra laundry.  I felt horribly guilty, but she is potty trained now, so that is all peepee under the bridge.  Er, well, whatever the appropriate metaphor is.  Anyway, I really wasn't sure that I wanted to use cloth.

I looked into them rather skeptically, and saw a huge variety of designs and colors.  I admit it, I decided to buy some because they were pretty.  What?  Yes, I know what they are going to be used for!   I dare you to look through enough of them and not feel a few material-girl stirrings yourself.  For some reason, the idea of the PUL backing on some of them didn't feel right to me.  I have a lot of confidence in the Natural Parent Network reviews, so when I saw that they were a sponsor, I went ahead and ordered some Glad Rags.

Because I didn't have a lot of money to invest, I ordered the cheapest ones I could find on Amazon, which didn't allow me to select the pattern.  Even so, the ones I got were pretty!  They were also incredibly soft and comfortable.  I could adjust the number of inserts for lighter or heavier flow, and wonder of wonders, I made it through the night with their night time rags without leaking!  Also, TMI (you know, since none of the rest of this post is?), but towards the end of my period I always had a couple of light days where disposable liners seemed to not absorb at the correct rate and would leave me slightly chapped.  The cloth was perfect and I never felt the slightest bit sore.

The inserts
Laundry wasn't a problem.  I just dumped them in with our regular laundry and washed in hot water.  (Cough.  I didn't see a need to mention that to my husband, and he doesn't read my blog, so we can keep that just between us, mmkay?  He gets grossed out much more easily than I do).  To my shock, they didn't even stain!  See?  (Yeah, I know that showing pics of used menstrual products isn't generally a good idea.  I think you deserve to know what they look like in real life.  And of course they are a bit wrinkled.  I don't iron anything, least of all my period products!).
The pads themselves.  The bigger ones are the nighttime pads.

I am a convert. I am so, so happy with the Glad Rags. I've been using them for a few months and no longer have conflict with my red tent convictions now that my period doesn't mean leaking and uncomfortable paper products. Also, my flow and cramps seem to be easing up. It could be pure coincidence, but I have heard so many similar stories that I suspect it is related to having less irritation. It is almost enough to make me want to twirl around a meadow in my hippie skirt! But I still want chocolate.


Tracy said...

Thanks for sharing this review! We love hearing stories like this :)

Jenny Mansell said...

What an awesome post! My experience with using cloth pads has been similar.

arwen_tiw said...

Haha awesome, eliciting promises not to tell your hubby cracked me up because my hubby is the same - he'd just rather not think about it, so I wash 'em myself! *rolls eyes slightly in a fairly affectionate way* :) :) xxx

Rach said...

I love my diva cup so much! Although, not enough that I miss it when pregnant. ;) I hope it still fits me well after this birth. But those pads are really cute.

Can you believe that I am still nursing my two-year-old, yet my cycle returned at four months postpartum? Sigh. I didn't night wean until close to two, so I must just be part of that 2% for whom it doesn't work for long. My mom was similar so maybe it's genetic...

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. :giggle It took me a good 6 mo to get used to my Diva but it's now working just fine. :) I love using cloth! And I used to have HORRIBLE periods but they're a lot better now, and shorter!! It cracked me up about your hubby. Mine washes mine for me, but don't let him know I told you that. ;)

Vanessa said...

You make me giggle!! :) I have such problems with my DivaCup that I can't even get it in. I know maybe too much TMI, but seriously, I've tried every which way and it won't work! I use cloth pads too and I love them! Except when I need to swim, so I've been using a soft cup for that.

prochaskas said...

I loved my Lunapads for the many years I used them. Except -- sometimes I still had leakage on those first heavy heavy days, and I still had, um, odor issues. And sometimes I couldn't get comfortable sitting, or I'd worry it was sticking out / showing through clothes (and no, I'm not wearing spandex or anything else skintight), and it was not comfortable and confidence-inspiring for exercise.

So I went for a cup -- chose the Lunette. I cut off the stem, and most of the time it's comfortable enough, especially in the second half of my period. But I still leak on those heavy days, and sometimes it ends up at an angle somehow, or sometimes when I'm moving around it feels like it's trying to fall out. But... NO SMELL! I usually wear it with a Lunapad for backup for the first two or three days. By the end of my period I often forget I'm wearing it and have to be conscientious to remove and rinse it twice a day. Maybe I should look for a bigger one. Or buck up and do the Kegels. I hate Kegels.

What I really want to do is figure out how to even out my flow or reduce it -- partly for ease and convenience, and partly because I'm tired of being anemic and taking dessicated liver tablets.

One of the things I love about Lunapads-style pads is that the insert sits on top of the main pad, so if only the insert is soiled, I can replace the insert without replacing the whole pad.

Elin said...

I used tu use cloth pads before but I use the cup now. I use the Lady Cup which is softer than a Diva Cup so if you change your mind try that one. I have loved it from the start. If you for some reason cannot wash your pads directly you can put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. I did that out of necessity one time when I could not access a washing machine for a while...

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

The GladRags are fabulous. I'm happy you like them!

I use my DivaCup with cloth pads for backup (generally now Lunapanties from Lunapads) and am so much happier than when I was using disposable pads and tampons. I will admit I have more fiddliness with my DivaCup than I did using the Instead/Softcup disposable menstrual cup. For some reason, that one just fit me better. And after this second kid, I've noticed even more fiddliness is required, so your comment about there needing to be an even larger size is a point well taken! (Ahem.) Usually, I can get it comfortable, though, and I so appreciate the convenience/lack o' mess. But whatever works for you works for you, so I'm glad you found the right fit!

melyssa said...

You are so funny! I had the Diva Cup for a while, and for about a year it did alright. Sometimes it hurt and pinched, and sometimes the gates opened and a blood bath ensued (sorry, TMI, but you started it!) I could only use it about 3 days out of the 5 that I would bleed - the other days it was just too heavy of a flow (too heavy for tampons, too) and my body was too sore to be stuffing anything up there anyway! I went back eventually to Always...and then, once again, to occasional tampons. Now I'm going to have to deal with my preteen who just started. AND she's a competitive swimmer! Aaagh! What to do?!

Anonymous said...

I used the diva cup for a while, between kid two and three, but after kid three...I had issues with discomfort and leaking.

I switched to the lunette cup (I always wear a cloth pad as back up, just in case, but havent needed it) and it has been great. I only use the cup on my 2 heaviest days (or on a medium flow day when I know I will be out of the house for a really long time). i use cloth pads only on the other days. Love them.

In order to get better pricing, I bought pad sets (they had smaller, larger and largest sizes in them, plus a couple panty liners), but only use the largeer ones. So, I set aside all the smaller ones for my girls for later...and they love to look at them and get excited about puberty. <3