Okay, i know what you're thinking....
"Is she serious??!?? Cloth pads??? Gross!!!"
I thought the same thing when i first heard of cloth pads 3 years ago when i first discovered cloth diapering. I remember telling my husband when he came home from work about the "wierd, hippie mamas" on the cloth diapering forum who used cloth menstrual pads. After grossing him out-yes, i was trying to- i swore that i would never do that.....well, that didnt last very long lol.
As the end of my first pregnancy neared its end, i stumbled across a post wheere a mama was talking about trying cloth pads bc she was allergic to sposies. Being a first time mom, i was completely unaware that i could not use tampons post partum. I remembered that I too was allergic to sposies and that is the reason i had always used tampons. So I decided that it couldnt be "that" bad and i would try it.
When i returned home from the hospital with my new daughter i was dying to try them bc i had the worst rash from the hospital sposie pads. I was hooked as soon as i tried the first one. Believe it or not I could not even feel it. It was a nice change from the pillow i was forced to wear between my legs in the hospital.
When my daughter was 3 months old, despite EBF-ing, AF returned. I was prepared. I had created a nice stash of homemade pads. I spent the few months perfecting my pattern and researching materials and testing new ideas. As I continued to use my pads personally I discovered a few benefits for choosing cloth over sposie pads.
1) Cloth pads do NOT stink!!! Yes, its true. That is enough to convert almost anyone(and to win over DH as well).
2) AF "symptoms" will decrease or disappear altogether! Sposie pads contain chemicals which essentially "draw" the fluid from you. This creates cramping, heavy flow and other not so lovely side effects. Since switching over to cloth my periods have gone from 5-7 days (at least 3 super heavy) to 2-3 days (very light). I also have not have cramping, nausea or migraines that used to send me to my bed for 2-3 days every month.
3) AF will shorten and lighten.(see #2)
4) Cloth is comfy. It does not stick to you, chafe you or crinkle when you walk. I cant even tell i have a pad on!!
5) You will never have to run to the store bc you have "run out" of pads. (This is also a huge plus with DH)
6) It may seem silly, but it is actually really nice to put on a custom dyed, squishy cloth pad when Af comes. It almost makes you look forward to its arrival. Almost.
There are sooo many other reasons cloth is better. You can customize you own pads from choosing length, to absorbancy, to fabric and even different styles. I also love that im not throwing anything away. I HATE buying something that will be in the trash in a few days (toilet paper, papaer towels, diapers, pads). It just seems very wasteful, in my opinion. When i buy something i want to be able to use it and enjoy it. I get to enjoy my cloth pads and, boy, do they last. I still have , and use, some of the first pads i made 3 years ago.
Coming later.....cloth pad care and benefits of different materials for cloth pads.