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Convenient alternatives to traditional pads

Convenient alternatives to traditional pads

There are a lot of options that are easily available to purchase for your menstrual needs. Whether you have light periods, normal periods, heavy periods or postpartum bleeding there are alternatives for your hygiene needs that you may not know much about – especially solutions for heavy periods and postpartum bleeding if you haven’t given birth before. We’ve detailed below the main options that are available for purchase and how they work.


Menstrual pads, otherwise known as sanitary pads or sanitary napkins, are a thin pad that is made from absorbent material that is designed to absorb menstrual fluid when you have your period. The come in disposable and reusable options, but disposable are the more commonly used in Australia. Disposable pads are typically made out of cotton, plastics and other synthetic materials and are designed for single use. Reusable pads are mostly cloth that can be washed, hung out to dry and reused a number of times.

Pads come in different sizes, shapes and absorption capacities for various use depending on where you are within your cycle and what your cycle is like – for example panty liners for light flow, super pads for heavy flow or maternity pads for postpartum flow.

Disposable pads are designed for up to 6 hours during the day or for overnight use. You may need to change them more frequently if you have a heavy flow or if they start to develop an odour after several hours.

For postpartum bleeding, pads are a comfortable solution to reduce down to once your initial bleeding after giving birth has calmed down. Most women bleed for between 4 and 6 weeks, with the heaviest bleeding for up to 10 days after delivery. Some women may find that they are comfortable using maternity pads after delivery, but for those looking for a solution with more coverage, we recommend using postpartum underwear. Some women like to include a pad inside their disposable underwear to get more time out of each pair of underwear, but with Partum Panties disposable panties this isn’t necessary as they are designed to absorb double the amount of ordinary sanitary pads.


Disposable tampons are similar to a pad in that they are designed to absorb fluid during your period and are made of similar materials. Unlike a pad though which is attached to the inside of your underwear, tampons are inserted into the vagina during menstruation. The vagina holds the tampon in place as the tampon expands as it absorbs fluid. As tampons are inserted into the vagina, in addition to absorbing menstrual fluid, they also absorb natural bacteria and natural lubrication and this can affect your vaginal PH levels. This means that tampons give you a higher risk of infection from bacteria and this can lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) – a rare but life-threatening infection requiring immediate medical attention.

Tampons are available in multiple absorbency ratings depending on your personal needs.

If you choose to use tampons, you need to change them every 4 – 8 hours depending on your flow. Due to the risk of infection, you should never wear a single tampon for more than 8 hours.

Tampons should not be used for postpartum bleeding as you may have damage to your vagina from delivery (either internally or externally). Please wait until your 6-week postpartum check-up before returning to using tampons for your menstrual hygiene needs.

Period Cups

Period cups or menstrual cups are a reusable cup that is inserted into the vagina to catch and collect period fluid. They are a small and flexible funnel-shaped cup that is made out of rubber or silicone. As fluid is not absorbed into the device, cups can hold more blood flow than other hygiene products and so are often used as a eco-friendly alternative to tampons.

As they are not absorbing and can hold more fluid than other options, menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and can be worn overnight.

There are various sizes of menstrual cups available. As they are used internally and that each vagina is different and changes over time, there are some things to consider when choosing the right size cup for you including your age, whether or not you have a heavy period, the length of your cervix, the strength of your pelvic floor muscles and if you have previously given birth vaginally. Smaller cups are usually recommended for women under 20 who haven’t given birth vaginally and larger sizes for those over 30, women who have heavy periods or women who have given birth vaginally in the past.

Like tampons, period cups should not be used for postpartum bleeding until after your 6-week check-up.

Period Undies

Designed to function like normal, everyday underwear but be an alternative to using other personal hygiene methods, period underwear can absorb menstrual flow. As they are reusable and washable, like period cups, they are seen as an eco-friendly option for managing period flow.

Period undies are usually made with a moisture-wicking top layer with absorbent layers underneath and a final layer of leak-resistant material. Some brands also include a layer of material designed to neutralise odours. Looking after them for multiple uses includes rinsing them after use, washing them on a cold washing machine cycle (by themselves) and line trying.

As with other personal hygiene products they are available in a range of absorbency levels to manage your period needs – whether you have a light (half a tampons absorbency), moderate (1 – 2 tampons worth) or heavy flow (up to 4 tampons worth).

You can wear period undies for up to 8-10 hours or for overnight use.

Period undies are ideal to use for postpartum bleeding once your initial heavy flow has calmed down as you can use them for a long period of time – ideal for when you are looking after a newborn and have a lot to think about already! If you have had a caesarean birth you may find it best to use high waisted period undies so as to not rub on your wound while it is still healing.

Disposable Postpartum Underwear

Often used for postpartum bleeding or maternity use in the latter part of your pregnancy, disposable postpartum panties can also be used as a disposable option for heavy periods, particularly as a comfortable overnight option.

There are disposable underwear options available in the supermarket, but for a baby belly it pays to use disposable postpartum underwear that is designed specifically for the pregnant and postpartum tummy. Some brands are tight and don’t stretch well and some have a firm tummy area that is not ideal for postpartum use. If you are looking at using postpartum panties and are having a c-section, Partum Panties have a stretchy soft waistband that won’t irritate your wound, providing protection and support on your abdomen. The Partum Panties brand also feature an inner leg liner that prevents leakage.

Disposable underwear designed for postpartum use is built for heavy flow post birth – with the best brands being able to absorb 800 – 1000ml in one pair of underwear. This means that they can be worn all day and are ideal for overnight use. They can be used for up to 12 hours depending on how heavy your flow is.

As with other hygiene methods, there are different sizes available. As the quantity of fluid that disposable maternity underwear can absorb is higher than other hygiene methods, sizing is differentiated by clothes size rather than absorbency. Partum Panties are available in medium and large sizes.

Hygiene solutions & postpartum bleeding

It is worth noting whilst considering the available options that you shouldn’t use any internal products for postpartum bleeding until you’ve had your 6-week postnatal check-up. Why? Because where your placenta was joined to the wall of your uterus you’ll still have a wound and you may also have cuts or tears in or around your vagina. Once you have been given approval by your Dr you can use whatever option works best and feels the most comfortable to you.