Had you asked me pre baby if I would be up for using reusable menstrual products my answer would have undoubtedly been a resounding no. However having had two children in cloth nappies and having seen the wonderful benefits, when I was approached by Bloom and Nora to try their new range of cloth sanitary pads my mind was more than open to the idea. I actually started to look in to reusable menstrual products before I got pregnant with Baby Green, I had made so many other successful changes in my life that this seemed like a logical progression.
If you are a cloth nappy user you will have no doubt heard of the brand Tots Bots, they are one of my favourite nappy brands for Baby Green and I use their products daily. After years of producing amazing products for babies they created Bloom and Nora. The brand is inspired by the early American feminist Amelia Bloomer a supporter of the Victorian Dress reform. Like all of Tots Bots products everything is made ethically right here in the UK massively cutting down on the products carbon footprint. The materials used are Oekotex certified which means that no harmful chemicals are used at stage in the production process which is in turn better for the planet and better for us.
Just like cloth nappies there are multiple benefits to reusable menstrual pads. The most obvious is that you save lot's of waste from going to landfill, especially waste that would take a long time to decompose such as plastic backed sanitary pads. There is lot's of research being conducted on the safety of conventional menstrual products at the moment, Tampons have always carried a risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome and many women also suffer with conditions like thrush which is exacerbated by Fragrance used in sanitary towels. There are also studies emerging that have found remnants of Glyphosate in sanitary towels and tampons, which is a herbicide that has some concerns over it's safety. The bottom line is that disposable menstrual products are only a relatively recent development and they may well not be the best option for you or the environment. There is also a cost saving element to cloth sanitary products, even when you factor in the washing costs, Bloom an Nora estimate their pads cost 3 pence per use compared the average 12 pence for a disposable.
For years I have been opting for organic cotton disposable pads, these are certainly a better option, as the production methods and ingredients are kinder to skin, however I always still felt some guilt about the waste produced. The unexpected perk of cloth sanitary pads is just how comfortable and simple to use they are, just like cloth nappies once you have a routine, using them becomes second nature. You also have the bonus of never having to that horrible dash to the shops when you are running low.
There are two options to choose from with these pads and each one comes in four sizes:
Bloom - Are bright pads made from bamboo, which is a natural and highly sustainable material thanks to how quickly it grows. These are the ones I chose to trial because the beautiful colours really caught my attention. They also have a microfiber core. Nora - Made from stay dry materials in white fabric. It says that the Nora pads are naturally stain repellent thanks to the choice of materials.
Pictured: The Bloom out and about bag (£5.99) with a double compartment. Bloom Midi Pad (£5.99) perfect for light flow or daytime use. The Bloom Maxi pad (£7.99) for Medium flow or light flow at night time.
The Bloom pads are exquisitely soft and comfortable, I did wonder why I had ever put up with some of the annoying habits of disposable pads once I had tried these. They have a soft and flexible waterproof material on the back and attach to your underwear really easily thanks to poppers on the wings. I have the Midi and the Maxi sizes, which are the two in the middle. There is also a mini which is smaller and a mighty that is designed for overnight use. I found Midi great for light flow and Maxi perfect for when things were a little heavier. The pads are very absorbent; impressively so, meaning they last as long as a disposable if not longer. Thanks to the fact that they stay put where you place them, you also don't have to worry about leaking in the same way you do a disposable.
Just like any reusable product, the initial cost of cloth sanitary pads upfront is more than you would pay for disposables, but long term there are substantial savings to be had. You can buy the pads individually or as bundles. The prices range from £4.99 to £8.99 per pad depending on the size. There are also accessories available in the range with the great little Out and About or Bathroom wet bags. I found the Out and About bag really useful, it has two sections in it which can be poppered together, this means one section can carry your clean sanitary towels and one your dirty ones ready to be washed. I started out with enough cloth pads to use them part time, but I have made the decision to add to my stash and use these full time. You will probably need around a dozen pads if you are washing every other day.
Washing is simple, when you remove the pad if possible give it a rinse with cold water, using hot water will cause any stains to set. Then simply store in a bucket or wet bag until you want to wash them. I wash them on a normal 40 degree wash, they come of lovely and clean. It's important that you don't add any fabric softener to the wash as that can make them less absorbent, but normal non-bio works perfectly so you don't need a special wash product. The pads air dry quickly or can be tumble dried on a low heat for those days when you are running behind on the laundry.
I am total cloth sanitary pad convert thanks to Bloom and Nora and I won't be going back to disposables unless I am on holiday without access to a washing machine. I personally think Bloom and Nora are much nicer to look at than other brands of cloth sanitary pads I have seen, which have have a bit of a crunchy look to them. Bloom and Nora are really well made, stylish and very practical. You can shop the entire range here: Bloom and Nora.
Are you a cloth sanitary pad user? Are you tempted by these?
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