My First Menstrual Cup

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Photo by Danilla

In December, as my youngest child turned 20 months old, I was met by the return of my menses. Being pregnant and/or lactating for almost ten years (my oldest child is 9 years old), I’ve only had a handful of periods during that time.

I can’t say I have missed dealing with it. I hate pads; they leave me feeling wet and rashy and as though everyone can see the outline. Remember when disposable pads used to be really thick? I do. I resorted to using tampons pre-motherhood (and in those rare instances since). They didn’t have the same issues as the pads, but they came with their own. They tend to leave one feeling dry, and there is always the thought in the back of my mind about toxic shock syndrome. Both disposable pads and tampons create a lot of waste, both during production and in land fills.

When I had children, and subsequently began using cloth diapers, I was introduced to the idea of cloth pads. It seemed like a better idea than disposables, but it didn’t address the other problems I had with disposable pads: the wetness, rashiness, or bulkiness. I really didn’t want to switch to pads, so I told myself that with as infrequently as I had a period, it really didn’t warrant storing a bunch of cloth pads in the interims.

A few months ago, I began taking a closer look at my options, as we may not have more children, and I knew I would eventually reach a point where my daughter’s nursing (despite nursing through day and night) wasn’t enough to keep my cycle away. I knew I wanted to try a menstrual cup. I asked around about different ones, read reviews, and ultimately ordered one to put away. I then proceeded to forget about it.

So, when my period decided to show, I was a little bummed. Honestly, I was hoping that it would stay away for a while longer. I was a bit mopey. Here I was having to deal with menstruation and the struggle we’ve been having about whether or not to have another child seemed to dangle closer, as my fertility began to return.

Then I remembered my menstrual cup packed away in my drawer. I wouldn’t say that it was like opening up a gift, but it did make my day a little brighter. So, I tried a menstrual cup for the very first time.

I took out the cup, washed it, and then looked at it. It seemed a bit intimidating. I then compared it to the size of something else and decided that I would be just fine. It was much easier than I thought it would be. It had all of the benefits of tampons without the drawbacks. I did have some leakage in the first couple of days, but I don’t know if that was because it was my first time using it, my first menses in a long time, the fact that I was having to dump it every 1-2 hours in the first days, or a combination thereof. When menses moseys back around in a month or two, I’ll gladly try it again. I much preferred it to tampons, but I think I’ll make some cloth panty liners for back up on those first days.

The next challenge? Emptying the menstrual cup in a public bathroom with my entourage in tow.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

cloth wipes…

When I was expecting our first child, I made a lot of cloth wipes to go with our cloth diapers. I made even more when we were expecting our second child. Two in diapers meant twice the poo, afterall. Besides, the wipes were grabbed for so many things besides wiping little bums. I cut out fabric, sewed it, turned the wipes right-side out and topstitched them. They worked wonderfully and survived through years of hard use. Eventually, now with more children, I was looking at finding the time to make more wipes. And then, the wonderful owner at The Sustainable Stitchery offered a trade.

She gave me an entire stack of wonderfully serged wipes. It was much easier than making my own, and because the fabric was from recycled T-shirts, it was much more eco-friendly. Again, we used the wipes for everything and I ended up ordering more from her (a couple of times). At that price, it wasn’t even worth my time to consider making my own again.

We’ve since gone on sabbatical from using cloth diapers, but the wipes are still in constant use. We keep a stack in the kitchen for cleaning or to use as napkins. The colors are cheerful. They are easy for the kids to grab. They wash up well, don’t require folding (bonus!), and look better than any paper version. Any time I clean, I reach for a stack.

I haven’t tried her cloth mama pads yet. Since I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for the past 8 1/2 years, I really haven’t had the need. However, I’ll be checking them out at some point in the future.