Using Cloth Pads Postpartum

Are you pregnant? CONGRATULATIONS! That’s awesome, and I’m totally excited for you. If you are like me during my first pregnancy you are already googling all the things pregnancy and childbirth related that you think you need to know. But have you thought about your own recovery and how to take care of yourself during the postpartum recovery stage? I’m just going to throw this out there that using cloth pads postpartum will be easier and more comfortable then you might think.

You will thank me for suggesting it after you’ve been wearing pads for a couple weeks straight.

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For most women, the bleeding that happens after birth (whether vaginally or by cesarean) lasts anywhere from 1 to 7+ weeks and is called lochia. WebMD talks about it being the way your body gets rid of the extra blood and tissue in your uterus that helped your baby grow.

It is also part of how your body heals the big wound that is created internally (about the size of a dinner plate) when baby and placenta are birthed.

If you have concerns about what is normal and when you should call your medical care provider my default is always to call a medical professional (Midwife or doctor) if I think I may need to. Better safe then sorry when it comes to our health. But you can check out WebMD’s stance on that here.

Giving birth can be traumatic to your body, even if everything goes to plan, and honestly, we are left with a little adorable baby (or more) and a gaping wound the size of a dinner plate where the placenta was attached. Granted it’s internal and you really can’t put a bandage on it to help it heal.

Then of course if you delivered vaginally your possibly dealing with a swollen perineum and vaginal canal even when you don’t tear. And if you did tear or had an episiotomy those wounds and the potential stitches need proper care as well. And if you had a c-section you are also recovering from major surgery and have those added aspects to heal from too!

How Cloth Pads Help

So in the middle of dealing with all this discomfort, and possibly even some (or a lot) of pain you really do need to do all the things you can to help yourself be MORE COMFORTABLE!

Seriously I hadn’t heard about cloth pads before I started cloth diapering our Oldest and I wish I had.

This time around I plan on doing ONLY cloth pads postpartum.

Why use cloth pads postpartum?

You might be thinking to yourself, “I’m going to have enough to do with a new baby in the house, WHY would I want to also figure out cloth pads?” Well for starters COMFORT, disposable pads are not comfortable at the best of times and the postpartum ones are even bulkier, often scratchy and they stick to your skin increasing the chances of rashes and other irritations in an already sensitive area.

If you have ever had a period you likely know that disposable pads are THE WORST, plus the smell, and disposables are looking rather shabby in the postpartum recovery as well as the regular menstrual cycle usage.

Now picture this, soft fabric against sore lady bits… soft enough the fabric could be used to make baby blankets! And no smell, plus you can just toss it in with your regular wash when doing laundry and re-use them. Oh and did I meantion the pretty prints? Seriously I LOVE my pretties, (runs off to order another batch).

One of the biggest pick-me-ups (next to your adorable baby), when you are feeling all the feels, is this cute, no adorable print whenever you go to the bathroom!

Plus during this time of healing, you really shouldn’t put anything inside your vagina, which means no tampons, and no menstrual cups, which kinda exhausts my experience with products for women that absorb blood other than pads.

The other factor to think about is the chemical aspect of having a disposable next to an area that is already sensitive in nature and is now healing from all the work you did getting that beautiful baby out.

During a time when we are recovering from an amazing and life-changing process I firmly believe that we should be focused on letting the body heal it’s self as much as we can. Of course, seek the help of a professional to help monitor everything because they are awesome at that. But why expose yourself to more stuff then you need to.

And I’m not even going to get into the “save the planet” argument I’m sure you are expecting at this point cause well, you’re expecting it. 😉 And as much as I value our planet it is NOT my first reason for using cloth pads.

Some pretty prints from my Mamma Cloth Pads of the Heavy Day Flow variety.

How to use cloth pads postpartum

Really cloth pads are a lot like disposables in how you use them, pull pants down (or lift skirt), remove previous one, put in a new one. The real only addition is that you put them in a wet bag until washing or getting home and wash them with your laundry. The second difference of note is that cloth pads don’t have a sticky backing, instead, you use snaps to close the wings around your underwear.

If you are NOT pregnant yet and want to get started with cloth pads for your menstrual cycle check out my post on Cloth Pads for Beginners which will run you through the details of how I got started.

During recovery, mobility can be an issue especially if you have had a c-section so having a big absorbent pad will help. If you are going with the TreeHuggerClothPads their postpartum/night time cloth pads measure 12″ long by 3″ wide and have two layers of Zorb (the absorbent fabric in the middle) and a water-resistant fleece backing. I honestly use these at night for my cycles and never even notice they are there because they are thinner then you would think. And if you have a cotton top pad it just feels like you have underwear on.

How many will you need? The answer to this depends more on how often you will be doing laundry, I’ve heard all sorts of recomendations and the general consensus is around 12 is helpful and could give you as long as 3 days worth of coverage before needing to wash. Of course the first few days are usually a heavier bleed so you will go through them faster during that time.

I’ve also seen that some women prefer a mix of sizes, in this case, I would also check out TreeHuggerClothPads heavy flow day pads. These also have the two layers of Zorb and fleece backing but are a bit smaller in length.

Bonus pick up some of the pad boosters (aka leaf) inserts, these small little guys can be soaked in witch hazel and laid in your pad to act as a healing ice pack! They are sold in packs of 6 and sometimes you can catch different colors like purple or green on the site (I love my purple ones)

Personally I love to look through all the prints and fabrics available and see what catches my eye and order accordingly but different fabrics will feel different against your skin (though they are all very soft). If you are using Tree Huggers they have the option of Minky, Bamboo, or Cotton.

Minky I find tends to keep me warmer and has a tad more fuzzy feel to it, though that could be from the fact that it does seem to have almost a “hair” factor to the fabric that goes against your skin. This fabric is known for being more stain-resistant, so if your concerned about things like that this may be the right choice for you.

Bamboo is a lovely extra soft fabric that absorbs well on it’s own. Paired with Zorb it’s that much better! And I love that this one comes in solid colors like white (non bleached) or black. I have a few of these in various sizes and use them without fail every cycle. TreeHuggers do claim that these ones absorb your flow the quickest, but I haven’t noticed a difference in my regular wear, maybe with a heavier flow I will.

Cotton, not sure who doesn’t love cotton, for me these feel like they are just my daily underwear. Add to that the fact that they come in all sorts of cool patterns like emojis and unicorns (to name a few) and I find these brighten my day every time.

Top view of my cloth pad collection that I plan to add to before baby arrives.

Things to Think About

Cloth menstrual pads are honestly awesome these days, and not as expensive to get into as you might think. It’s honestly been a game-changer for me with my regular cycle and I’m excited to use them with my next Postpartum recovery as well. If you’re not sure, or you’re ready to get started check out my post Getting Started with Cloth Pads for a more detailed look.

If you have a hospital birth please be aware that the medical staff may be trained to monitor your blood loss by how it looks on a disposable pad so you might want to keep that in mind when choosing your prints (swirly or busy paterns may make their jobs harder), and colors (I’ve seen some adorbs red pads out there… blood on a red pad nuff said 😉 ). So maybe go for a lighter color in a solid or more simple print.

Also if you are doing a hospital birth you will want to ensure you have a good sized wet bag packed so you can keep them together and make sure no one accidentally makes off with any of your pretties. And some hospitals may have rules about this ( check in advance if you can). You may not be permited to use cloth pads, in which case you’ll have to tough it out until you get home when you will really notice the difference.