Pros and Cons of Cloth Pads: A Rundown of the Good and the Bad

So, you’ve decided to consider reusable menstrual pads… at least, I’m assuming you have since you are here. But if you are researching the pros and cons of cloth pads, I’m also assuming that you may have some doubts.

As the loveable tree-huggers we are, the Lil Helper team believes that the waste-reducing pros of cloth pads far outweigh the cons. But we are also not the type to sugar coat things to try and bring someone to “the Cloth Side.” Much like making the switch to cloth diapers, finding success with reusable menstrual products is going to depend on a variety of factors related to your lifestyle and personal preferences.

So, we thought we’d give a full rundown of the benefits and potential drawbacks of cloth pads. That way you can decide whether cloth pads will be the right choice for you.

Pros of Cloth Pads

cloth pads

Environmentally Friendly

environmentally friendly

This is one of the most common reasons that people consider reusable menstrual products. Choosing cloth pads means less waste ending up in landfills. Plus the way that they are produced is also, generally, much more eco-friendly. So if reducing your carbon footprint and avoiding single-use plastic products is something you are working on, making the switch is a great step in that direction.

Money Talks

save money cloth pads

When checking out the prices of cloth pads, it may seem like they are extremely expensive. But if you sit down and crunch some numbers, you will quickly realize that it doesn’t take long for them to pay for themselves. Since they can be reused over the course of several years, they can save you a lot of money. Plus, disposable pads aren’t exactly cheap either.

Another pro of cloth pads is who makes them. Unlike disposables (which are manufactured by huge corporations), most cloth pad companies are pretty small. Whether it is a WAHM’s Etsy shop or a budding small-business like Lil Helper, buying cloth pads usually means supporting a business that you can actually put a face to.

So if you are sick of feeling the sting of literally throwing your money away each month or want to be more discerning in who you are supporting with your hard-earned cash, cloth pads are something to take into consideration.

Comfort

comfort cloth pads

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of putting something full of chemicals, that doesn’t breathe near our most sensitive bits. I’m guessing it must have been someone who does not possess a set of those bits. Another big pro of cloth pads is that this is no longer an issue.

Cloth pads are made of a variety of different materials (depending on the brand). But pretty much any cloth pad is going to be more breathable than a disposable. Our HyPs pads have a stay-dry topper, which pulls sweat and other secretions away from your skin. This leads to a more temperate climate in your nethers, which we can all agree is a big plus.

This, combined with the lack of chemicals in cloth pads, means that skin irritation, infections, and other issues are far less likely to occur.

Also, anyone who has ever skipped a bikini wax and then used a self-adhesive pad knows that there is a flaw in the comfort-factor of disposables. Putting something sticky next to a place with sensitive hairs is a pretty major oversight.

If you go cloth you won’t have to worry about that eye-watering experience happening again.

Convenience

Wanna know true panic? Have Mother Nature come calling only to realize you forgot to replenish your tampon supply. Then, subsequently, realize that every store in town closed about an hour ago.

Wanna avoid that issue in the future? Switch to cloth. Since they are washed and ready to go after each cycle, going with cloth means never again having to dash to the 24-hour pharmacy two towns over.

You also never have to worry about absorbency. Like disposables, cloth pads come in lots of different sizes to suit any flow. And many types (including HyPs) are made with waterproof linings so you never have to stress about leaks.

Most companies also offer systems to help you store, wash, and take your pads to-go. So while cloth may seem like extra work, it’s more convenient than you might think.

They’re Magic

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But cloth pads do have some qualities that make them seem like they possess supernatural abilities.

First, they don’t smell. So the days of enduring a garbage can full of funk are behind you if you switch to cloth.

Second, they could make your period less miserable.

Yes, you read that right. Some folks find a reduction in length, heaviness, and cramps when they make the switch. And, I don’t know about you, but I am more than willing to dish out the dough for at least a trial kit if there is even the slightest chance that Shark Week is gonna be less miserable.

Cons of Cloth Pads

pros and cons of cloth pads

Washing and Maintenance

This is usually first on the list of “dealbreakers” when people consider the pros and cons of cloth pads. Our HyPs have pretty simple washing instructions compared to some other brands, but they do still need to be rinsed and laundered after each use. Regardless of the brand, most pads can be thrown in with your regular laundry but the added step of washing takes away some of the convenience.

You also need to make sure that you have a good place to store them until you are able to wash them. This can add some logistical complications if you have little ones around or are tight on bathroom storage space.

“Ick” Factor

Some people cannot get past the idea of reusable pads being “gross.”

I think a lot of this has to do with the way we are taught to think about and talk (or not talk) about menstruation. They way our society views periods and the people who have them is pretty bogus, but that is a rant for another post.

They do also require you to have a little more “contact” than you are likely used to. As I said before, we recommend rinsing after each use. You will also need to carry both clean and dirty pads around when you are away from home. Some people find the idea of that unpleasant.

So even though cloth pads are perfectly hygienic it may be hard for some people to get past their preconceptions. If that’s you, you may want to reconsider cloth pads. Or look for another reusable alternative.

Accessibility

Despite their ability to save you money long-term, the upfront cost of cloth pads can be a big con. There are a variety of options to suit different budgets and you can slowly build your collection as your finances allow. But it is something to take into consideration.

Cloth pads also require access to reliable laundering facilities. As I said before, you can just throw them into a regular load of laundry, so they shouldn't add to your costs if you use coin-operated laundry. But, they shouldn't be left too long between launderings. So figuring out if they fit with your routine is another thing to consider.

Bulk

This is a consideration for a lot of folks, even with disposable pads.

Depending on the brand and materials used, some cloth pads can feel pretty bulky. Especially when compared to some of the ultra -thin disposables.

That being said, some brands (*cough* HyPs! *cough*) are actually thinner than certain disposables. So sometimes it is a matter of shopping around.

If, however, you are firmly opposed to having anything unnecessary between your legs (teehee), cloth pads probably aren’t for you. Maybe consider a cup or other reusable alternative.


Like a lot of eco-friendly products, reusable menstrual products are an investment. It only makes sense, therefore, that you would want to consider all the pros and cons of cloth pads before making the switch.

I’m the first to admit that the Lil Helper team has a bit of bias on the subject. BUT we are also all busy gals who don’t have time for messing around with unusable products. And general consensus around Lil Helper HQ? HyPs pads (and cloth in general) are totally worth the switch.

What do you think? Are there other pros or cons of cloth pads I didn’t think of? Other issues or questions you have? Let me know in the comments!

Celebrating Birthdays: Quarantine Style

Hey, yall! It is Jess again.

Time has flown.

HOW?

Each day feels like it lasts a year.

And yet, my baby is turning one.

I blinked and he went from being super fresh and squishy to running and climbing. My mama heart can’t take it.

In my family, the first birthday is a huge celebration. For my daughter’s birthday, we took her to Europe for a month. We are all about experiences over things. My mom planned a huge party. We had 200 guests, a taco man, and a DJ. It was intense and everyone loved it. All in all, we celebrated hard.

My mom had similar plans for my son but alas, pandemic is still going strong.

So, we are left to figure out how to celebrate my son without actually being in contact with anyone. Here are some ways we have planned that hopefully give y’all some ideas for your own kids’ birthdays.

1. Camping Trip

You get to go somewhere different while continuing to follow all social distancing protocols. This is our top plan at the moment.

If camping is too much for you, you can always go glamping (INCLUDE LINK) or even rent a remote cabin for your family to enjoy the outdoors.

You don’t have to go somewhere and spend money to make it special.

You can always pitch a tent in your backyard and make it an experience.

2. Drive By Birthday

Setting up a tent and having friends and family drive by with sings and balloons sounds so good in theory but my baby is a runner so this one is out for us but could work for your family!

Personally, I feel like this would work so well for an older kid who would actually enjoy reading signs and seeing people.

My baby knows like 10 people so a bunch of random family is just going to freak him out.

3. Facetime/Zoom Birthday

This one requires the least amount of work and includes the most amount of people. If that is most important for y’all, then this is an excellent option.

My husband and I have family all over so we will definitely be spending the day talking to everyone and sending pictures. Unfortunately, my baby will be bored Facetiming after 2 minutes so it won’t feel like much of a celebration.

4. Decorate your whole house

This is my absolute favorite.

Every year for my daughter’s birthday (and some years I have even done it for my husband), I stay up very late or wake up super early and blow up a ton of balloons. I’m talking hundreds of balloons so when she wakes up its like a birthday piñata exploded in her face.

This is the kind of intensity I enjoy.

Good news is so does my kid.

I bake a cake from scratch and decorate it as best as I can. I am no professional so some years its been a little crooked but it’s filled with so much damn love.

Last year I even made all my daughter’s birthday decorations including a gigantic balloon garland. Oh, and there was an actual piñata too, because how could there not be?

This was me keeping it “low-key” because we had a new baby.

I could see in my daughter’s face that she felt like a million bucks! I plan on doing the exact same thing this year for my sons birthday and I hope he feels like the most special kid ever.

Have you had to celebrate any of your kid’s birthdays during quarantine? What did you do to celebrate? Include your child’s age to give other parents ideas!

#DadsAreChanging – Why Paternity Leave Matters

Hi everyone! Caitlin here on the blog this week to talk to you about #DadsAreChanging. That precious time we have with our babies, parental leave, and why paternity leave is so important.

#DadsAreChanging

Gone are the days when Dads are simply the bread winners and raising babies is “women’s work”. Today’s dads know what a vital role they play in kids’ lives and are active participants. Lil Helper wants to support Dads to be all that the can be and that’s why we started our #DadsAreChanging campaign. More on that later.

Diaper changes on the go are just one way #DadsAreChanging – my husband, Jon, on his first paternity leave

Maternity vs paternity vs parental leave

In Canada we are given the option through Employment Insurance to take up to 18 months of leave for our kids, and this can be shared between parents.

The first 17 weeks are designated as maternity leave for moms, and the remaining weeks can be split, shared, or parents can choose to take turns. This is known as parental leave, but when a dad takes it, it is often called paternity leave.

Jon embracing the chaos of toddler tea parties on his second paternity leave.

With our first, my husband chose to take 4 months of paternity leave. His leave started well after the birth, because we had grandparents here to help. With our second, he is taking closer to 6 months and began immediately when baby was born, as we didn’t have extra help due to Covid19 travel restrictions.

Split and share, together, or taking turns

So what is the best way for you and your partner to decide on how to use your paternity and maternity leave? For some families the best choice is to split the time and share it, or one partner may take it all. For others, they may choose to both take leave at the same time, or take turns i.e. mom takes leave for the first six months and then returns to work and dad stays home on paternity leave with baby until all benefits are complete. Here are some things you might want to consider when deciding on your leave.

Parental Leave requires a bit of planning

Financial standing

While it is wonderful that Canada offers these benefits, its important to note that benefits are still only as high as 55% of your previous income, if your employer doesn’t offer additional top up. For this reason it may make sense for one partner over another to take leave. Plan accordingly and remember you may need to put extra aside for tax season as well.

Feeding baby

Breastfeeding and pumping is a lot of work so it may make more sense for mom to stay home with baby initially. Many babies have success with combo feeding, formula, or exclusively pumped breastmilk. Do what works for mom’s mental health and baby’s growth, and check out tips on pumping and nursing here.

Milk drunk Aileen and Jon, happy to be able to help with feeding when I was exclusively pumping.

Mom’s physical recovery

Depending on what happened during labor and delivery, mom’s recovery time might look different/take longer. She may need help with any lifting, and there is growing support for mom’s to rest as much as possible during the six week recovery period after birth.

Mom’s have a lot to recover from and do during those early days!

Benefits specific to paternity leave

Having the opportunity for both parents to stay home is incredible and I highly recommend it if you are able to make it work for your family. Here are the big three benefits I see to Dads staying home.

Mom’s mental health

It’s not unusual for the majority of the mental load to fall on mom’s. Add in sleepless nights with a newborn and the physical recovery of childbirth, and the toll on the mental health of new moms can become unbearable. Extra help at this time is crucial to helping mom recover not just physically but mentally as well.

Someone there to help make sure she is eating and drinking, and give opportunities for breaks is crucial. It’s also helpful for Dads to focus on other household duties while mom and baby take the time they need to connect and recover. Dads can complete extra household chores which helps many moms stay calm and collected during this adjustment stage.

Regular communication is key as everyone adjusts, as is sleep. For us, during the low sleep newborn stage, my husband and I actually sleep apart. It is better for my mental health to know that he is rested and ready should I need to tag him in, than for us to both wake for every feed.

A good partner needs to be ready for the tag in whenever you need it!

Bonding and connecting

Dads need time with new baby to adjust too. There is not always an instant connection to your new addition and time alone for dad and baby is important. Especially if breastfeeding, it is very easy for new moms to want to jump in with baby all the time.

Dads can cuddle, change diapers, and bottle feed!

I find leaving Dad and baby alone for a few hours every week benefits not only my mental health but their relationship, even in the early days. Dad gains confidence and babe learns that other grown ups love them just as much as mom.

Toddler Time

With our second, I have found the biggest challenge so far is ensuring that both kids have their needs met. At 2 months, my husband and I have found a real rhythm where both kids usually get one on one time with each parent every day. Like many new Dads, however, I know my husband sometimes feels there is not much he can do (besides chores and diapers) in those early days with an infant. But he can play with our toddler.

Aileen and Jon during bedtime story time.

In fact, this second paternity leave has him spending more time with our first born than ever before and that has been a wonderful way to ensure that she feels love and connection during this big change in her life as well. So even though we are more experienced as parents now, I think paternity leave has proven even more crucial this time around.

Paternity Leave and Shutting Down the Dad Stereotype

Too often in media we see two parental stereotypes: moms who run the show and struggle to do it all, and dads who are bumbling but loveable.

Dads should be empowered and encouraged that they are as important a parental figure as moms. Dads know what they are doing, work hard, and are important role models for their kids! Normalizing paternity leave encourages Dads to take an active role in family life. It’s time to shut down the bumbling Dad stereotype and show dads for what they really are – awesome.

Lil Helper is a big believer in supporting Dads too. In fact, the whole cloth diaper system was designed with Dads in mind!

Lil Helper also is building a community for Dads online in the Facebook group #DadsAreChanging, check it out here.

Paternity leave is so important. It supports new moms, keeps the household running, and strengthens family bonds. I want our kids to grow up seeing two parents who work hard in and out of the home, who love them fiercely, and are capable and committed to the family. By supporting Dads taking leave too, we can normalize and achieve all this and more!

High fives for Dads!

How did you split parental leave? What do you think is the best part of paternity leave? Share in the comments below!

Anti-racist Books for Kids

Hey y’all. It’s Jess again bringing you some anti-racist information.

In my last anti-racist post, I focused on one book, Antiracist baby by Ibram X. Kendi (LINK BLOG) but I wanted to bring y’all more options, so you can grow your library.

Books that teach about the life experiences of BIPOC (LINK what bipoc is) are incredibly important for all children.

Books that have non-white characters are essential in raising children who appreciate differences instead of pretending they don’t exist.

We need to see color. See it, appreciate it, love it, and learn from it.

These are just a few books to begin working on your anti-racist library. It is a small but meaningful step when raising anti-racist children.

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