Menstrual Honesty: Safer Periods

A guest post by Kendra Purcell

My beautiful daughter was born January 2011. Before she was born, I decided to use cloth diapers. I researched disposable diapers, what was in them, their cost over two years, their long life in landfills, etc. I was more comfortable using cloth diapers and especially cloth diapers of natural fiber. The cloth diapering community is very active online and it’s through a cloth diaper twitter party I was introduced to You ARE Loved last summer.

I agree with You ARE Loved’s stance that women should be able to discuss menstruation with honesty. Suzan, Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved and @youarelovedTSS Twitter representative, asked about my experiences with my periods and my postpartum period. I exclusively breastfed my daughter until she was about 7 months old, so I knew it may take a while for my period to return. There is a wide range of “normal”.

Well, in late June of this year, at seventeen and a half month postpartum my period returned.

During my period-free months and thanks to my many conversations with You ARE Loved through twitter, I made the decision not to use traditional tampons when my period returned. My thinking was very similar to the reasoning I used when deciding to cloth diaper.

After my daughter was born, I had a new-found respect for my body and what it could do. I wanted to use the safest products available during my period.

I personally prefer non-absorbent materials which will contain the menstrual fluid, there’s no chance they will get moldy or damp.  Have you seen the picture of the moldy tampon online? Truly, horrifying.  If I use tampons again, they will be organic cotton and without an applicator. I want to be able to see what is going inside my body. It’s something I literally never thought about before but now I am aware.

My first postpartum period I used pantiliners and pads left over from my bleeding immediately following birth.

This past July I used pantiliners & Instead Softcups. I found the Softcup at Walgreens & Wal-Mart. (Suzan through our twitter conversations told me that Softcup has a “find a location by zip code” feature on their website, which is helpful.) The Softcup is a disposable cup that goes inside you. I prefer to use internal products because I feel cleaner. I do use pantiliners on my light days, usually my first and last days of my period.

My first experiences with the Softcup were not successful. Then I read the directions, embarrassing but true! Always read the directions first! After my first day with definite user error, I became more comfortable with using the Softcup. Transitions are often weird or awkward and I accepted that it might be part of the process switching away from tampons.

I’m currently still exploring all my options including the DivaCup and other cup-shaped internal products. I may even use “mama cloth” pantiliners, like Lunapads. I also am getting a box of organic cotton tampons, so I have convenience of having one in my purse if my period surprises me or to offer to another woman in need. There are many different items besides traditional tampons.

I look forward to trying more products and sharing what I learn.

 

Kendra Purcell is a wife to a great guy and momma to an amazing daughter. She has spent most of her life in childcare.  In the future, she looks forward to welcoming more children, becoming a breastfeeding peer counselor and a doula.

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