Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Picture Perfect Bottoms!

Nothing ruins great style faster than having the wrong accessories.  Imagine a table setting for a wedding reception.  The table is adorned with beautiful flowers: tulips, roses, lilies, hydrangeas.   The table cloth is pristine white.  Exquisite crystal wine glasses and sterling silverware exude fine dining elegance.  And, to complete the look, delicate, hand-painted, one-of-a-kind, disposable paper plates.

Or, how about, a photo shoot with your baby in a professional studio.  You dress your baby in her best clothes -- items from Zara, Ralph Lauren, and the like. You adorn her hair with pretty little bows, and swathe her feet in adorable soft-soled leather shoes.  Then, when it's time for some shots in her birthday suit, you leave her in her disposable diapers.  Remember, it's all about the details, and when you dress your baby in disposables for a photo session?  Eeek.

Professional photographers know that babies look so much better with cloth diapers.  See for yourself!

In a GAD pocket diaper.

In a Happy Heinys One Size Pocket Diaper.

In a GAD Embroidered Pocket Diaper.

Now that's picture-perfect!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Heinys Mama Pads

If you're a cloth-diapering mama, it shouldn't be too hard to switch to cloth yourself.  After all, all the reasons why you would use cloth on your baby applies to yourself as well!  Baby is more comfortable with cloth?  You'd be more comfortable with cloth, too!  Afraid of all the chemicals touching your baby's  most sensitive parts?  How do you feel about chemicals rubbing on yours?  Baby gets rashes with disposable diapers?  Some women get rashes with disposable pads, too!  Cloth diapers are easier on your wallet?  Ditto for cloth pads!  Concerned about the environment?  Think of all the menstruating women around the world, and how disposable pads contribute to a gazillion tons of trash.

Trust me, when you make the switch to cloth, you'll never go back to disposables ever again!  This is coming from someone who used to think that it would be disgusting to use cloth pads, and how thankful I was that I live in an era where disposable pads exist! 

I had actually heard about cloth pads (and cloth wipes) about 6 or 7 years ago.  I was taking up a short course on pattern-making, and one of my classmates was telling all of us ladies over lunch about her friend who used cloth sanitary napkins, and cloth wipes to clean up, instead of tissue paper.  She was telling us that it was cleaner to use cloth because you wash them.  With disposables, you are not guaranteed that they are clean, more so sanitized.  She said that you never know if the disposable pad factories or warehouses have roaches and rats crawling all over the raw materials and finished products.  She also said that maybe one of the reasons why nowadays a lot of women have problems with their reproductive system, and why infertility rates are up, is because of the use of disposable pads.  As someone with endometriosis, that struck a chord with me.  However, I thought about how gross and inconvenient it must be to wash the pads, (and how would you control the leaks!), and promptly dismissed the idea.

Fast forward to 4 years ago, a few months before my firstborn was conceived.  I had just had my 3rd surgery for endometriosis, and my doctor lent me a book about it.  One of the chapters of the book talked about environmental factors.  It said that one of the most toxic substances on Earth, dioxin, has been shown to cause endometriosis.  Dioxins are by-products of bleaching.  And guess what, disposable sanitary pads and tampons are bleached!  The book then mentioned an alternative to disposable pads: cloth pads.  It told of modern cloth pads with snaps to hold them in place, and with waterproof barriers to prevent leaks.  It listed some stores that carried them, and this time I decided it was worth a try.  

Since then, I have never looked back.  I have tried several kinds and brands of cloth pads: flannel, organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, pocket style, AI2 style, and AIO style.  

Happy Heinys Mama Pads

The one I'm most happy with so far is the Happy Heinys Mama Pads.  Happy Heinys Mama Pads is an AIO (All-in-One) style, meaning all the parts are sewn together as one.  This style is the most like disposable pads.  I find this the easiest to use, as they're all in one piece and I don't have to think about separate soakers or inserts.  I find that it's the easiest to wash, as well.

Another thing that I like about Happy Heinys Mama Pads is that the waterproof layer is PUL, which is a thin, breathable material.  Some brands use nylon, and I find that it doesn't hold leaks as well as PUL.  Others use fleece or wool, and while fleece and wool have superior breathability and leak protection, they're quite bulky.  I have never had a leak with Happy Heinys Mama Pads, even when sometimes I forget to change and then find that they're already quite full.  I find that you can wear them for the same amount of time as you would with disposables, maybe even longer.  Oh, and I use them for overnight, too! 

I think that it also helps that the absorbent material Happy Heinys uses is hemp.  Hemp is super absorbent.  It is more absorbent than cotton or bamboo.  But, given that hemp is very absorbent and takes a longer time to dry, I'm pleasantly surprised that it takes only a short amount of time for the Happy Heinys Mama Pads to dry.  I air dry them and it takes about one day, or less than a day if it's sunny.

One more thing that I like about Happy Heinys Mama Pads is that it is topped with a fleece layer.  The fleece is super soft and keeps you feeling dry.  It's amazing!  It also makes washing a breeze, since it is stain-resistant. Also, any stains can be bleached out naturally by the sun.

Here's my washing routine:
  • When I'm at home, I just rinse the used pad under cold running water.  This washes away most, if not all, of the blood.  Some of you would probably be squeamish about this.  But, take it from someone who has OC-tendencies and is squeamish about dirt and germs, it is not that big a deal.  Menstrual blood is not dirty (literally and figuratively), plus, it is your own blood, not someone else's. 
  • I then store the used pad in a small, dry basin.
  • At the end of the day, I hand wash them all together with a little detergent.  (You can also wash them together with your underwear, or with your towels, or with cloth diapers.)  I make sure not to use too much detergent, and to rinse properly, to avoid getting the fabric clogged  with detergent residue and cause repelling issues.  I also do this to avoid getting a rash from the detergent.  They are machine washable, but I wash them by hand to prolong their life.
  • When I'm out and about, I bring 2 small pouches with me: one for storing clean pads, and the other for storing used pads.  The Happy Heinys Mama Pads can be folded unto itself and snapped in place, making it into a small square that can fit into a purse.  This folding technique also "seals in" the soiled part -- all you see is the outer cover.  Oh, and I also have to say that I've never smelled any odor on my cloth pads, unlike with disposables.
  • Then, when I get home, I just rinse and wash them all at once.  Easy peasy!
Clockwise from left: hold to fold your reusable pads...
to turn them into neat little packages...
which you can fit into a waterproof pouch!

Even though it is named Mama Pads, these reusable pads are not just for moms.  If you have  a daughter who is coming of age, do her a favor by giving her reusable pads instead of disposables.  Think about the message you are sending your daughter when you give her disposables: is her menstrual cycle a dirty thing, something to be ashamed and disposed of?  Why not celebrate her becoming a woman: treat her on that special day , just the two of you, mother and daughter.  If you have more than one daughter, make it a special ritual, a rite of passage that the women in your family celebrate.  Teach her that her periods are a blessing,  a symbol of the cycle of life, and of the power of women.  Then gift her with reusable pads that will take care of her needs and will last for many, many years.     

-- Jane

Still on the fence about cloth pads?  Read this and this for other women's take on them.