We often get asked about using reusable products for postnatal bleeding (lochia). Today we have a guest blog post from Nicki, she is a Doula based just down the road form Go Real and is a huge champion of both reusable nappies and reusable menstrual products. She is a married mum of two and offers birth preparation workshops across Cornwall as well as being a pre and postnatal doula.
“Let’s talk about postnatal bleeding.
Lochia; Wikipedia says “In the field of obstetrics, lochia is the vaginal discharge after giving birth (puerperium) containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. Lochia discharge typically continues for 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth, which is known as the postpartum period.”
It is so often a part of childbirth that is not spoken about. There seems to be a bit of a taboo around it similar to what women experience around their periods. Like it shouldn’t be spoken about in polite conversation. Even midwives can be guilty of it, asking in hushed tones “has your bleeding stopped now dear?” Along with the apparent shame of bleeding after a woman just performed the most amazing miracle a human can, they are expected to use the most uncomfortable “maternity pads”. These pads that make it uncomfortable to sit or walk, that get stuck to your pubic hair, that itch and irritate an already sensitive area, that get caught in your stitches, that seem to fill up your bathroom bin every day and stink! All this is before you have even looked into what they are actually made from! Things that include bleaching agents, pesticides, artificial fragrances and non-breathable plastics which is why they make your vulva feel sweaty!
So I am here to talk openly about all these things! To tell you that you have another option! Reusable pads, cloth pads, postpartum pads, moon pads, luna pads whatever you see them called they are basically the same thing. They are made of cloth, washed after use and then used again. I am going to outline some benefits below, this list is not exhaustive and many people will find lots of different benefits for them!
1, They are soft! They don’t pull or rub or stick to your vulva or stitches or pubic hair. They are gentle and come in a variety of fabrics so you can find a fabric that feels best to you. I am a fan of Bamboo velour as a topper but I have friends who much prefer a cotton top. They come in different sizes and shapes, some prefer a longer pad, some prefer a shorter one. There are lots of options and many makers will be happy to chat with you and help you find what suits you best.
2, They are so much better for the environment! Disposable pads are very similar to nappies. They will sit in landfill for hundreds of years! People are often caught out in public toilets with no disposal facilities and are tempted to flush them so they end up on our beaches and stuck in our drains. The cloth pads you use for your lochia can continue to be reused afterwards for your menstrual bleeding plus any future births and will last for years and years if cared for properly. They will save a LOT of waste.
3, They can be used as great compresses to help healing! After birth your vulva and perineum may be sore, you may have had stitches or a small tear, you may feel a little bruised and swollen. A great way to help soothe the area and encourage healing is making a herbal tea and applying a compress. There are lot of different recipes online that include the use of Calendula, Chamomile, Lavender, Aloe vera and Witch hazel. Please remember it may be an open wound so be sensible with what you use and contact a qualified Aromatherapist or Herbalist if in doubt!
4, They are pretty! You have just done an amazing thing. You grew a human being from scratch and then birthed that person into this world. You deserve some prettiness in your life! You deserve to not feel ashamed or uncomfortable for the next 4-6 weeks! You deserve to be proud of the pads you carry around with you.
As a doula I am privileged to have been with women in those precious first days and weeks after birth, one of the most important parts of my job is to honour and nourish the woman as her body changes and heals and her mind and soul become accustomed to the new life she has created. What pads you use may seem like an insignificant thing but it is another thing that can help a woman feel amazing after birth, add it to nourishing food, unconditional, non-judgemental support and oodles of love the immediate postnatal period of love hormones and baby cuddles can be a pretty amazing place to be!
As with anything there are things to think about apart from the benefits. One of the things people mention most to me is “But how do you get them clean?” Actually taking care of the pads is so simple! It is a very basic washing routine and requires no special products. You just need a small wetbag or tub in the bathroom to hold the pads before washing. Go real have all the information on washing pads on their website as well as links to places you can buy pads. You could also make them yourself! There are lots of patterns and step by step guides available online for all different shapes and sizes of pads.
Let’s not be ashamed of our bleeding anymore! Let’s talk about it! Let’s embrace it!”