I see a lot of the same questions on the various cloth pad forums from people having trouble finding a good fit of pad. It can be really annoying going several hours wearing a pad that is uncomfortable. It could be because it’s slipping about in your undercrackers, or you might have had a catastrophe at work with leaking through your trousers. I thought I’d do a little troubleshooting guide to cover some of the more common problems you might encounter and some possible solutions.
This can be supremely irritating. Having the back end of your pad wedged up your bum crack while you’re on the school run. Annoying.
Most of the problems addressed in this blog post can be improved with decent underwear. If your smalls are actually not all that small, let’s say ‘a bit on the baggy side’, the pad will flap about inside them and inevitably ram itself sideways up your bum. Not good.
You need good quality, snug-fitting knickers. Nice twangy elastic and a decent gusset. A good pair of knickers will support the pad, hold it firmly in place, and help it mould against the contours of your nether regions. I’m currently writing a separate blog post all about knickers, so keep an eye out for that.
Similarly if you choose the wrong shape pad for your body, it won’t sit well. For me, narrow pads with straight sides are fine at the front but at the back they will twist round and a wedgie ensues. A pad with a flare at the back gives better coverage. The edges of the pad spread out across my butt cheeks, eliminating the threat of my hungry bum trying to eat it.
Finally, take a look at Earthshine Luxe. This maker has developed her very own cutting edge technology to combat the pad wedgie. These pads have a built-in FlexiLuxe 3D bendy core. They are very cleverly constructed to contour against your bum, without actually trying to climb inside it.
This is when a pad either slides backwards in your knickers, sometimes so far back that it’s no longer covering your foof. Sort of defeats the point of wearing it. Or it rides up to the front and threatens to poke its head above the parapet of your pants, which is uncomfortable and a hassle to keep sorting out.
There are some Chinese-made budget brands that have plush/minky as a backing fabric. Look at which way the pile is laying before you put it into your knickers. If you lay it so that pile is pointing backwards, it will create its own friction and reduce slippage.
I also find that PUL-backed pads are much more slippery that fleece-backed ones. Again, good fitting underwear will help to some extent but this can usually be solved in a couple of ways. Firstly, is the pad tight enough? Most makers offer an extra snap, giving you the option of a tighter or looser fitting pad. At night when you aren’t moving as much, or in the daytime if you’re wearing tight jeans, you might want to wear your pad on the looser fitting. If you’re wearing a dress or smaller gusseted knickers, you might need to cinch the pad a little tighter just to hold it in place.
Secondly, look at the shape of the wings on your pad. I find that small, pointy wings don’t work well for me. I’m a big lady, with a big bum, big thighs and big knickers. Small wings just don’t hold up against the onslaught. However, wrap style wings have the same effect. They are too wide and create a bit of a pad tube that slides up and down. For me, slightly wide, curved wings work the best. But everyone is different so you’ll need to work out which shape of wing works best for you.
Finally, look at the length. Is your pad long enough to cover you from front to back, even if it does shift a little bit? If you pull it up to cover the front, does it leave your back end feeling a bit exposed? If this is the case, you may want to consider adding an inch or two to the length you buy in future.
I often hear that people have had a disaster with bleeding off sideways onto the wings of the pad, or even onto their underwear or clothes. I think we’ve probably all experienced this at some time or another, with both cloth pads and disposables.
As I’ve already mentioned, the pad needs to be held securely against your body. A baggy gusset means your blood will be free to flow in whatever direction it chooses, so I say again: WEAR DECENT KNICKERS!
Is it a brand new pad? It is worth knowing that pads reach their maximum absorbency only after a few washes. Most experienced makers pre-wash all their fabrics and core materials anyway but you may want to wash a new pad a couple more times before using it. I’m incredibly lazy and always far too excited to pre-wash mine but I always keep this in mind the first time I wear a new pad and ensure that I change it a bit sooner than I would with a well-used one.
If you have a really heavy or gushy flow, it can sometimes overwhelm a pad, causing surface run-off. If this is you, you may want to avoid cotton as a top fabric. Bamboo velour, cotton velour, and plush/minky are much quicker at wicking liquid away into the core and are all great options for a particularly fast flow.
Interlabial pads are another option to control a gush. These are tiny little petals that tuck into your flappy bits. Earthshine Luxe, Huggally Wuggally and several others make them. They act as an extra barrier to slow down your flow and direct it into the centre of the pad, giving the core a chance to absorb the blood. They aren’t for everyone but worth considering if you regularly have trouble with bleeding onto the wings.
Finally, try a pad that has some decorative stitching on the top fabric. Beau Bespoke, DinkyDotBots and lots of other makers have their own logos or a pattern that is sewn or embroidered onto the top of the pad. This may look very pretty but it can also have a practical purpose in helping your flow to be absorbed more quickly into the core, particularly with cotton or jersey topped pads.
This is usually caused by one or more of the things already covered. If you are leaking off the front of your pad because the pad itself is moving backwards in your knickers, see the ‘Pad slide’ section above.
Sometimes your bum acts like a tiny aquaduct, channelling your flow backwards and off the end of your pad, maybe if you’re sitting down for long periods of time, or if you lay on your back to sleep. No one wants bloody skid marks on their pants, do they now?! Or even worse, a full-on disaster with ruined bedsheets! This is when you need to look at length. You need a thirsty pad that covers a good portion of your rear end, preferably with a fairly wide flare.
The same goes for front bleeding that isn’t caused by pad slippage. Either go for a pad with a generous front section (KT Boo Baby or Environmenstrual cater specifically for this), or turn a rear-flared pad around so you are better covered at the front.
Ouch. I’ve heard about this quite a lot recently. It seems a particular problem in the summer months when we tend to wear more skirts and dresses. Trousers or jeans tend to hold everything steady so nothing has a chance to rub. It’s also a painful problem for cyclists!
If your pad is on its tightest fastening and you still have wing droop in between your legs, the pad is probably too wide for you. Similarly, if the pad itself is bunching up, despite being on its tightest setting, width could be the issue. Makers such as Dimplemuff, Fluffy Little Pickles and Lady Days all offer a ‘slim fit’ style for those needing a narrower width.
Otherwise, Moon and Stars Pads ofters Velcro fastening pads as an alternative to snaps. You can also find wingless pads and liners fairly widely available from makers such as Lady Days and Made by Gituce.
For wingless styles, tight knickers are an absolute must. You do not want your pad to drop unexpectedly out of you trouser leg in the school playground at pick-up time!
I hope this will help you find a solution to some of your cloth pad problems. Is there anything you’re struggling with that I haven’t covered here? Pop a comment below or message me through my Facebook page and I’ll get back to you.