Cloth Pads VS Diapers/Disposable Pads: Which is better for postpartum?

Hello again! As promised, I wanted to come back and share my thoughts on using cloth pads postpartum and whether I would recommend them or not. So, as you may have guessed…I had my baby! He is now 3.5 weeks old and we are loving all of the sleepy newborn snuggles. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I started using the cloth pads until the end of day 2. That is because my midwife had a kit that she brought that had some pads and diapers already in it and that’s what she helped me into right after giving birth. With my first birth, I never wore diapers—I just went straight into mesh undies with a pad—so this experience was a little different. But, I think it was helpful to be able to experience 3 different options so that I could better know which is the best option. 

Well, here it is: I think reusable (aka cloth) postpartum pads are the way to go. They were much more comfortable to wear and didn’t make me feel really gross. I didn’t wear them directly after birth, as I had said, and so I am not sure how often they would need to be changed since your bleeding is heavier. However, once I began wearing them, I changed them every other time I went to the bathroom—so about every 5 hours. I may have been able to wear them longer than that without leaking through but I know they say it is important to change the pads often to prevent infection from occurring. 

In wearing the pads, I did learn a few things that I would have done differently when making the pads. I’d like to share those so that you can learn from my “mistakes” or things that I think would make the experience better. 

I had made 12 pads to use. I knew that was on the lower end of what people recommend so my goal had been to make at least that many. I was hoping to make closer to 15, but honestly, once I had made 12, I lost all motivation since I was so pregnant and tired. Something to keep in mind: having more pads would be better—especially in the beginning. 12 was an ok number to have but we were needing to do wash about every 1.5 days in order for me to have the pads clean by the time I needed more. Granted, if you are willing to put your pads through the dryer, than you would be able to spread out your washes a little but I was air drying mine and so I needed to account for the hours that it would take for them to dry. It did work out for us because we cloth diaper and so we were doing wash anyway. This also won’t be a continuous problem as long as you take it easy and your bleeding decreases. After about a week and a half, I was needing probably only using 2-3 pads a day and now at 3 weeks PP, I only change the pad morning and night since I am more so using it as a back up now. 

As I mentioned in the last paragraph, it is important to take it easy. Your body needs time to heal! This means lots of sitting and laying in bed and really only getting up to go to the bathroom or take a sitz bath. One thing I learned was that the length that I had ended up making my pads, made it so that the edge was right at my tailbone when I sat leaning back. This made my tailbone a little sore. Definitely not a dealbreaker, I just needed to be aware of how I was sitting and not sit leaning back as much or give myself breaks. However, if you are working on making your own pads, just be aware of the length that you make them. Also, as I had said in my DIY post, you can take in the center portion. I did that and it ended up working out really well. I suggest taking the pattern to your underwear and measuring it out and seeing what you would like to change. 

A slight issue that I had was that the blood would “leak” onto the wings. It didn’t ever cause an issue because not enough of it came through to even leak onto my underwear, but I am not sure I would feel confident wearing a pair of white jeans if you know what I mean. I am not sure if this was an issue unique to me and so it is user error or if all cloth pads do that. I debated how it would work to maybe only make the wings from a waterproof fabric but I am not sure how that would work either. Although it could be worrisome if you bleed to much for your absorbency, it never was an issue for me and so it’s not something I worried about. 

In the tutorial video I had watched about how to make postpartum pads (linked in my other blog post), she mentioned that you want to make sure to use 100% polyester thread so that you don’t leak through on your stitching. Well, I did use polyester thread but I found that on the stitches where I sewed through all of the layers (so the stitch that went around the whole pad), a small amount of blood would come through and get soaked in on the underside fabric if I bled right onto the stitching. So, the only stitching it really happened on was the center portion by the wings because that was the thinnest part of the pad and where most of the blood was falling but I did make one pad where I had restitched more so in the center of the pad and I had that issue more on that pad than any others. So, my advice would be, don’t stitch through the whole pad except for when you are going around the whole pad as the last step, and then try to keep your stitch as close to the edge as possible. 

Lastly, I used a really cheap fleece blanket as the top material on my pad. If I were going to make them again, I would choose a different fabric. The fleece was comfortable but after washing them just a few times, the fabric pilled A LOT. More so just an annoyance than anything because now the pads look like they have been used hundreds of times and I worry about their longevity (aka if I can wear them in the future after having more babies). Slightly frustrating since one of the pros to the pads was that I would be able to save money by wearing them again and again. I may try to take a razor to them and shave off the pilling… but we will see. 

So, there you have it! My opinion on using cloth pads for postpartum bleeding and what I would do differently next time. Overall, I was really pleased with my experience. They are definitely more comfortable to wear, I felt better about not having toxic chemicals near my healing body, being able to reuse the pads rather than contribute waste to landfills, and saving money while doing so. Even if you don’t know how to sew or wouldn’t make your own, I would still recommend buying some from someone on Etsy, if you can. It may seem expensive, but it is an investment (since you can reuse them) and there are the other benefits I listed as well. If you choose to use cloth pads for postpartum or just regular menstrual cycles, be sure to comment and let me know your experience and what you think!

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