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Postpartum: Why Use Mama Cloth?

In my recent post on what you need in the first postpartum week, I briefly mentioned a cloth option when it comes to pads and other “healing” items.  But why would you use cloth?  Where do you get it?  And…isn’t it kind of icky?

Keep reading to learn more about your cloth options!

When you’ve just had a baby, everything is pretty sensitive “down there.”  After all, you’ve just stretched out enough to deliver a full-term baby (unless you had a c-section) and you may have even torn.  Things are swollen and tender.

Unfortunately, especially if you did tear (and get stitches), you will be extra sensitive.  Just using the bathroom may cause extreme pain (ask me how I know…sigh).  At this point, you don’t want to do anything that will make it worse.  And believe me, scratchy paper products can hurt.  A lot.

Enter cloth.

Even if you’re not sure you would use cloth at any other time, this is one time you seriously should consider it.  Just because you are unusually sensitive!  I don’t normally use cloth wipes after I use the bathroom, but I did in the early weeks postpartum, and it really made a difference.  They’re just so much softer and gentler.  I almost enjoyed using them, vs. sitting there and saying, “Ow, ow, am I done yet?” like with paper.

So what are the benefits?

*Much softer — Easy on your very sore lady parts!

*Doesn’t stick — Paper can stick to you, especially the bloody-sticky-mess part.  Cloth glides smoothly and gently.

*Pads don’t contain chemicals — I’ve learned, through research and personal experience, that the bleaching agents and other chemicals in disposable pads can actually cause cramps to be worse.  With cloth this isn’t a problem at all.

*Less waste — You’re going through a lot of pads in these early weeks.  Now you don’t have to throw it all away!

*Easy to care for — If you also use cloth diapers, just toss your cloth in with those.  If not, wash them alone on hot with a small amount of detergent.  They don’t really need any special care.  (They might stain if you don’t soak them…but who’s going to see them anyway?)

See?  Cloth is good!

Pads

Cloth pads are a good option to have right now.  You can buy them (commercially in some cases, or from Etsy stores), or you can sew them if you’re handy.  They can be reused indefinitely and aren’t too expensive to buy.  They also come in a variety of styles, sizes, absorbencies (you can even buy “pocket style” ones to customize absorbency), and even pretty colors!  They are about $10 – $20 to buy sets of 3; you may be able to find individual sellers who offer them cheaper.  They are around $2 – $3 to make sets of 3, possibly less!  (Diaper scraps work great.)

Wipes

I’m serious.  I know some of you think I’m crazy, but you will love it, even if just for now (and just for pee).  Buy soft, flannel or bamboo wipes (cloth diaper wipes work fine) and use them with your peri bottle after the bathroom.  Just use the warm water in the peri bottle to rinse off, then pat dry with cloth.  It’s so much better.  You can buy these, but if you know anything about sewing, you can make them just as easily.  You can even just cut flannel scraps (they’ll fray in the wash though).  I sewed squares to look pretty and it was no big deal at all.  I’m actually really looking forward to using them again…is that sad?

Ice packs

The hospital only gives you so many, and they’re kind of lumpy and uncomfortable, especially if you’re not too sore.  And if you don’t go to the hospital you won’t get any.  Instead, you can use fabric scraps soaked in water or comfrey leaf tea.  I used bamboo terry (a smooth type — or was it velour?), and sewed about 6 layers in a rectangle.  I soaked them in comfrey leaf tea (promotes healing) and froze them in individual bags.  They were nice, and even when they melted they were still soft.  Some women just use their pads soaked in water so they don’t have to buy or make something else.  That works too.

Washing Instructions

Okay, anything you use will get all bloody.  It’s a fact of life.  Put these used items in a small waterproof bag.  You can soak them in cold water in a bucket instead if you want; it may prevent staining (I’m too lazy).  Some women are worried about the yuck-factor and use a product called Bac-Out, which will strip any bacteria or yucky stuff from them.  Then, wash them in hot water with a tiny amount of detergent and use an extra rinse (detergent residue can cause irritation).  Dry them in the dryer — shouldn’t take long — with no fabric softener or dryer sheets (the oils will cause liquid to repel, not good!).  Simple!

Anything you can do to make those first postpartum weeks easier is good, in my book.  I loved having my cloth the second time around.

Have you ever used or considered cloth, postpartum or otherwise?

Top image by monkeybunns

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