By Jane Voodikon
One day six or seven years ago, I was compelled to sew my own menstrual pads, and ever since, I’ve been making and using my own. They are my period product of choice: In addition to reducing the amount of waste I create with pads and the money I spend on my period, I find that cloth pads are more comfortable than disposables—and I feel that I experience less cramping and fewer infections.
So I was very eager to try out some of the commercially available Bibipads. There were, after all, some issues with my homemade pads that I never managed to overcome—specifically, appropriate closures. My hand stitching was never durable enough to keep metal snaps on, and besides, they rusted; and Velcro was irritating against my skin. I also wanted to see if the “leak-proof layer” Bibipads (like many well-known cloth pad brands) offers was indeed leak proof. (For my homemade pads, I had simply used polyester fleece, which is moisture-resistant and non-slippery—but it wasn’t a perfect solution. Sometimes it leaks, and sometimes it slips.)
The Bibipads arrived from Shanghai to Chengdu within several days in a very nice box with a handwritten note from Bibipad founder Brigitte. The box included:
One large-sized Bibipad
One medium-sized Bibipad
One small-sized Bibipad
One Bibipads waterproof carry pouch
One packet of ecoBibi “multifunction washing powder”
The pads arrived in separate, sealed packages (made of biodegradable cellulose, according to the info card) with information cards (printed on recycled paper printed with soy ink) contained therein. The cards offer instructions in English and Chinese (and diagrams!) on how to wear, how to fold, and how to wash the pads, as well as some general information on the benefits of using the pads.
A separate information card offers additional facts about using cloth pads and more detailed use and care instructions. It also informed me that Bibipads “are made in China using fabrics made of three layers of 100% cotton and one layer of coated polyester to make the product leak proof but breathable” and that “cottons and flanelles are guaranteed free of lead and formaldehyde” and “metal snaps are guaranteed free of lead and nickel.”
The pads are a somewhat untraditional shape that provides wide coverage than the traditional oblong and features pointed wings that snap underneath the panty crotch. My pads came in a blue and green ditsy floral print with a pale turquoise underside; the metal snaps were professionally applied; and all edges had been serged in matching thread. The pads all fold up to a compact size—thicker than many disposable pads but not as tall or as wide.
The carry pouch is a drawstring-type pouch, and because the waterproof cloth is quite stiff, it’s hard to pull the drawstring to a complete close. But that’s only a minor foible; I usually use any spare plastic bag that’s handy to carry my pads anyway, and they certainly don’t seal completely.
I tried the large size (28cm) on the second day of my period—almost always my heaviest day. The shape, thickness, fabric, and closure of the pad were all very comfortable. (The tag did chafe my leg slightly, but it does explicitly state to remove it before use). The functionality, however, wasn’t quite as good: There was some leakage down the sides, and a slight amount through the “leak proof” layer, but nothing out of the ordinary (it’s a rare cycle that I experience no leaking whatsoever). This also could have been prevented if I’d changed the pad earlier, but I am just not the kind of person who’s in the habit of doing that. On subsequent lighter-flow days, when I tried the medium (23cm) and small (17cm) sized pads, I experienced no leakage problems. An extra large size (34cm) is also available, and that would have probably been a better choice for my heavy days. Other solutions are placing an additional layer on top of the pad, which can be changed as needed, but such a product is not (yet) available from ecoBibi (I use large squares of cotton flannel folded business-letter-style).
EcoBibi is a relatively new brand that also sells mother-baby products such as cloth diapers, changing pads, bibs, and so on, and seems to really be focused on creating eco-friendly made in China items. As far as I can tell from my Internet searches, they’re the only supplier of cloth pads on the Mainland (I’ve located one other in Macau but the logistics of ordering seemed slightly daunting). A limited selection of prints is available, and the designs seem to change periodically. Bibipads retail from RMB30 to 49, which is slightly lower than comparable pads available from overseas on Etsy or from leading U.S.-based producers of cloth pads.
Bibipads are available on the ecoBibi Taobao shop (http://ecobibi.taobao.com/)
There is plenty of information available on the Internet about the hows and whys of making the transition (either totally or partially) from disposable pads to cloth pads. Here are some links to get you started:
比比卫生巾从上海到成都几天之内就能到达，它们被放在一个很漂亮的盒子里，并附有一张比比卫生巾的创始人 Brigitte 的手写纸条。一盒里面包括：