I received some these products free for review and purchased some myself. All opinions as well as bodily fluid remains my own.
My first pregnancy and subsequent postpartum period were really trashy. That is to say, I generated a lot of trash. Off to the dump went panty liners and then postpartum pads by the bushel, plus boxes and boxes of (at times individually wrapped) nursing pads. Using cloth diapers on Cub opened my eyes to the world of reusable personal care products.
In the first world we use, almost exclusively, disposable paper/plastic/mysterious chemical-laden products to deal with what our body produces: tissues, toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products, nursing pads- even one-time use bibs. When our bodies leak, we flood the landfills.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The convenience of disposable goods pales in comparison to the comfort and sustainability of high-quality reusable alternatives. Particularly if you have a newborn, the amount of laundry you do is already a lot. Adding nursing pads or a few pads to the mix will save you money and save our planet without costing you measurably more time.
Now it can be hard to make the switch to reusable if your reusable replacements don’t perform well. Let me assure you that my willingness to go washable for pregnancy and baby two was significantly influenced by the fact that Öko’s panty liners and pads (menstrual and nursing) do the job just as well, if not better, than the disposable equivalents I’d been used to.
Öko Menstrual Pads During Pregnancy & Postpartum
I’ve already discussed my love of Öko panty liners, and my love of them continued during my pregnancy. Pregnancy’s a messy time, excretion wise, and I’d say I was saving up to six disposable liners per day by just using Öko.
Peeing when I sneeze (or vomit… is that TMI?), discharge… leaking some amniotic fluid… my underwear was even saved from a few *other* incidents that I will decline to describe. (They were stinkier.) Öko for the win! Their pads contain a thin, breathable layer of film that makes them waterproof. I made them show it to me when I visited their workshop, because they always told me “it looks just like Saran Wrap!”
As far as I know, Öko is the only brand on the market using this material to make their pads waterproof. The only other options I’ve seen are polar fleece and PUL.
After giving birth, I was able to start using Öko’s long menstrual pads by day two, when my bleeding was just like a heavy period. I found them so much more comfortable than disposable pads, which I remembered being sticky and rough. I never had any leaks, and Öko pads are trim enough to wear under yoga pants. Öko’s long pads are not marketed as postpartum pads, but I preferred them over all others in my stash. I was always disappointed if they were all in the wash! (If you’re worried about staining, observe the pads below are pictured POST postpartum.) Öko’s long pads feature two sets of wings with sturdy metal snaps to secure them around your underwear. I found them plenty long enough, even overnight. I did opt to wear my very massive and very long WAHM-made postpartum pads at night for the first few nights, but I’d say my Öko pads were more than enough by week two postpartum.
Öko’s Nursing Pad Styles
I started wearing Öko’s PUL-backed hemp/cotton nursing pads when Cub was almost a year old. I wasn’t leaking a ton at that point, but they were particularly important if I was ever apart from him for longer than usual. Back at work part time, I never had to explain any big wet circles on my shirt to my students! Since giving birth to Little Miss Cub, I haven’t used a single disposable pad. Öko sent me all three of their nursing pad types to test out, and their PUL-backed ones are still my preferred Öko pad.
I leak a lot. Öko makes hemp/cotton-blend pads that are not PUL-backed, and I soak through those easily. If you are a light leaker, however, these would be perfect for you! (At bedtime I’ve even put one of these pads in front of a PUL-backed pad!)
Öko also makes a hemp/cotton blend pad that is accompanied by a merino wool topper. This works on the same principal as a wool soaker over fitted diapers.
Wool is naturally water resistant, though not waterproof. It is also very breathable, which helps prevent mastitis. I found the wool layer reasonably good at containing leaks, but wearing the topper over the nursing pad wasn’t smooth enough under my clothes for my taste. Also, I have a hard enough time finding a single nursing pad that has fallen into my blouse or a couch cushion while I’m nursing… I was forever searching for my wool toppers while I was testing them. Someone leaking less than me and who privileges 100% natural fibers (and perhaps is prone to mastitis but needing a more breathable, leak resistant option) would be well served by this model!
Now having tried all of Öko’s line of nursing pads right from the start of nursing when my leaking is the heaviest (as compared to when my supply had slowed when Cub started solids), I can confirm that the hemp/cotton blend is still my favourite and the most absorbent option for the core of nursing pads. (I’ve now also tried flannel, bamboo terry and bamboo velour.) The only thing I would change about Öko’s PUL-backed pads is their circumference. I’d love an “overnight” model that’s about half an inch larger, both for heavy leakers, but also for women with larger breasts. The same is true or their menstrual pads: a wider model would be a great addition for plus-size women.
Is Reusable Actually Cheaper?
Based on my calculations, if you ONLY use Öko’s reusable pads during pregnancy and postpartum, you break even. However, if you consider that you will be continuing to use your reusable stash when your period comes back, you’re definitely looking at big savings!
Panty liners during pregnancy:
I changed my liner, on average, four times every day. The Always liners I used to use work out to about 10 cents per liner, so let’s call that $108 in disposables (I’m going with 270 days of pregnancy).
If you buy six packs of Öko panty liners (total of twelve liners, but you could survive with fewer if you did laundry more often), the cost is actually identical: $108. But once you’ve spent that $108, you’ve got panty liners that you can continue using after your pregnancy, both for postpartum bleeding and for menstruation (or, if you’re like me, for a daily liner). In terms of durability, I have some Öko liners that have been washed twice per week for over two years now and which are still perfectly usable and nowhere near being ready for the trash!
Let’s say you are using and average of five per day over six weeks. (Naturally you may use more near the start and fewer near the end.) That’s 210 pads. It looks like heavy-flow disposable pads by Always average out to 50 cents each. That’s $105. If you buy four packs of Öko Heavy Flow Pads (total of eight pads), that’s $104. And, once again, when you have your period back, you’ve got these pads to continue using.
If you’re a heavy leaker like me, you change your nursing pads almost at every feed. I am going to consider six pairs of pads per day over two months (although I need them well beyond two months postpartum).
Disposable pairs average about 40 cents per pair, six pairs per day and 60 days. That’s $144. Let’s say you get five packages of Öko PUL-backed nursing pads, or ten pairs. That’s $67.50. Even if you only wear nursing pads for the first couple of months, you are definitely saving money there!
Shop & Connect
Shop at ÖkoCreations.ca or find a retailer close to you! Öko now ships to the US, too! I’d like to give a special thanks to Melanie at Gentle Nest for taking a picture of products from her inventory for my title image!
To learn more about this amazing, Canadian company that puts sustainability and ethics at the forefront of their business model, check out this blog post (written by yours truly).
Have you taken the plunge for a waste-free postpartum? What’s holding you back?