Having a baby was never going to be pretty, and anyone that tells you otherwise is most definitely lying. One of the ugliest parts, at least for me, was the post-partum bleeding. As nice as the memory I have of coming home with my newborn baby is, it will always be ever so slightly tainted by the fact that I left waddling, wearing the biggest incontinence pants that I could possibly find. Just picture Bridget Jones, but pink, flowery and disposable..
I stupidly thought that after having a caesarean, I wasn’t going to have any post-partum bleeding, or at least, it would be minimal. In my head, I somehow must have rationalised the idea that I hadn’t actually, physically given birth so there wouldn’t be any blood. And boy, I was so wrong. Not only did I have to deal with the trauma of surgery, but I was bleeding heavily as well, and between incontinence pants and maternity pads, I was constantly in a state of discomfort.
I distinctly remember a few days after giving birth, sitting and just generally being really uncomfortable – my pants were cutting into my scar, which was still pretty sore in itself, and my maternity pad was always anywhere else other than where I needed it. I put out a distress call to my sister to stop by Marks & Spencers to pick me up the biggest pants she could find, because the ones I’d bought just weren’t cutting it and I couldn’t stand it much longer. In hindsight, the new set-up didn’t help my pads moving much but they definitely fitted better – and kept my armpits warm as well! About three weeks after giving birth, my post-partum bleeding had slowed to a gentle spot and I thought “Oh finally, it’s bloody over!” only for it to come back a few days later with a vengeance. I genuinely felt like poop reincarnated.
No one really prepared me for what to expect from post-partum bleeding, which made it even worse. I only brought incontinence pants on a whim, thinking that they would be my best bet when my waters broke – not that they ever did – and ended up living in them for the first few days post-baby. I sent messages in the early days to my baby group chat asking if other girls were experiencing similar things, was everything normal and what pads they were using that worked best – to find that they all had questions as well.
I didn’t realise that I had any other options.
If you haven’t seen a maternity pad before, they’re about two inches thick, they move about regardless of what you do or how big the pants you wear them with are, and although they essentially ‘do the job’, they’re pretty awful. Incontinence pants were bulky and ugly, and while they’re super practical, they quickly start to smell, which just isn’t what you want to be worrying about in your blissful newborn days. I also distinctly remember my midwife telling me to be weary of wearing them too long, as the risk of infection was higher, which worried me and made me even more wasteful.
A few weeks back, WUKA – which stands for ‘Wake Up Kick Ass’ by the way, and is exactly the mentality I want every day, and undoubtedly needed in those newborn days – offered to send me some period pants to test out, and I was super excited but admittedly, I had a lot of questions. I, of course, knew that they would so much better for the environment than traditional sanitary products, but my initial thought of them was a bit – icky. Are they going to smell like the incontinence pads did? Are they going to make the rest of my washing smell funny? Are they even comfortable? And while most of my questions were answered on their website, there’s nothing like trying things for yourself, is there?
Since I was about twelve, pads have always been my go-to sanitary product – they’re fairly practical, no toxic shock syndrome, which apparently isn’t even really a thing, and they’re far more comfortable than tampons – but they obviously have their flaws. I don’t even think I can count the number of times I’ve leaked, wrecking mattresses and clothes, because they move so easily, and they’re awful for the environment as well. I’ve considered a moon cup before, but a lack of positive experiences with tampons meant that I quickly dismissed that thought. If anything was going to work for me, it would be period pants..
I tried a pair on almost as they soon as they arrived. I managed to make use of them straight away, and wore them through the last few days of my period. Initially, they felt a little more bulky than normal pants, especially around the bum area which logistically makes sense, but no more uncomfortable, and they sit quite high on the hip, like a bikini style pant. I was a little worried that they would move or slip like most pants do, which would lead to them leaking especially at night, but they actually didn’t fall or slip at all. I was sent the medium flow absorbency, which the website states can hold between two and three tampons worth and can be worn for up to eight hours, but there were definitely times when I wore them for longer with no issues at all and there was never any smell like I had originally worried about.
Washing was super easy as well. In the evening, I took them into the shower with me and hand-rinsed them through thoroughly before popping them into the airing cupboard to dry overnight. I did do this once, wore them again, and then chucked them in with a dark wash the following day – it’s just important to remember not to use fabric conditioner when you wash them though as it can effect the absorbency. All in all, the process was super simple and not gross in any way – I don’t even know why that was a worry for me to be quite honest, considering I catch baby sick in my hands at least once a day, but I guess it’s crazy the thoughts that go through your mind.
And speaking of crazy, it honestly blows my mind how different my recovery would’ve been if someone had just mentioned period pants to me as a post-partum essential. I wouldn’t have had to worry about infections or had to rush out to buy pants that held pads better, I wouldn’t have had to worry about the awful odour you get from pads or leaking during the night, and I wouldn’t have sent what felt like a metric tonne of waste to landfill whilst also having a product that I could use for years to come as well. If I ever have another baby – and that’s a bloody big ‘if’ – I’ll definitely be using my WUKA pants, and if I don’t, rest assured that I’ll tell every pregnant person I meet that they’re a post-baby essential.
Without a doubt, period pants have changed how I ‘period’. I’ll be adding more pairs to my collection soon enough so that I don’t have to worry about washing them through as often as I currently have to and so that I have more than one absorbency strength. As a new mum, I always have a million and one other things going through my head and not having to worry about packing enough pads for a day out, alongside everything else I always need to hand, or remembering not only to change my baby but also myself, is honestly a weight off my shoulders.