Should we call them “Mama Pads” ?

“Mama Pads” and “Mama Cloth” are 2 common names some people use for cloth menstrual pads. Others include “Moon Rags”, “Moon Pads”, “Rags”, “Cloth San-Pro”, “Mama Fluff” and “RUMPS”.

You wouldn’t think such a small little name could cause a problem, but it does. There is a bit of a love/hate relationship with the term “Mama Pads”, and it’s something that might be worth thinking about.

You will often find cloth pads listed on websites/online stores that specialise in cloth nappies under headings such as “Mama items” or  “For Mum” etc. usually relating cloth pad use with being a mother.

Some women, particularly those who are childless find these mother-specific terms to be exclusionary and almost offensive, especially if they are unable to have children.  There are those who menstruate but don’t consider themselves to be women, much less a “mama” who likewise can find the term offensive/exclusionary. Also cloth pads can be used by anyone (of any gender) for incontinence.

So a more general term like “cloth pad” can help all people feel that the product is something they can use.

It can also be confusing to some people, as many simply don’t make the connection between cloth pads and being a mother (you wouldn’t expect them to), so do not think to look under a “for mum” or other such headings to find cloth pads, or assume that any cloth pads listed there would be for post-partum bleeding (or some other mother-related thing they do not know of), not for regular menstrual use. So are missing opportunities as a customer, because they are not associating cloth pads with being a mother, unlike the store intends. It is in fact more common to see long and highly absorbent cloth pads being marketed as “Post Partum Pads”, designed to attract expectant mothers, than to see them marketed as “night” or “heavy flow” Pads.


So why are cloth pads commonly linked to being a mother?

Presumably this relates to the fact that many women discover cloth pads as a follow on from cloth nappies they use on their children, or through use of the term “mama pads” by cloth nappy using mothers who use cloth pads as well. We tend to use terms we hear/see others using….. It happens a lot with menstrual cups, where people discuss the use of a “Diva cup” or “Moon Cup, but just mean a menstrual cup in general.  However the predominance of the term continues to grow as more people call them “mama pads” and so the cycle continues.

Another reason for “Mama Pad” is that using the term “Cloth Pad” can be ambiguous to some people. Seeing or hearing those 2 words may not instantly mean “cloth menstrual pad” to everyone. If you type “cloth pad” into a search engine, ebay or other such place, you’ll get some idea of the fact that the term can be used for many different items. Particularly if it is in use around cloth nappies – where it could be mistaken to be a part or accessory for use in those. Using the word “mama” helps target it to be something that a mother would need, rather than the need of a child….. Thinking like this – mothers menstruate, therefore a “mama pad” is a menstrual pad. You can see how a connection can be made in this fashion.

There is also the possibility that connecting cloth pads with the term “Mama” etc. rather than “Menstrual” is thought to help customers see them in a more positive way. Where in society the word “Menstrual” usually conjures up negative emotions, relating something to a mother could instead be seen as being something less confronting or more appealing. Where some embrace the word “Menstrual” or see nothing wrong with it, for many this word is one best uttered in hushed voices if it is spoken of at all. Think of the myriad of terms used to avoid actually mentioning Menstruation (“Aunt Flow”, “on the Rag”, “Crimson Tide”, “Monthly Visitor” and so on.)

So what’s so wrong with the term? Well nothing really, a name is just a name….. but some people feel REALLY strongly about it, and don’t like that they are referred to as something only mothers use. From a practical point of view with marketing Cloth Pads to all users, some thought into this might be useful for some sellers, who could be limiting their potential customer market by use of this term or by displaying cloth pads under “mother” specific areas of their stores.

The term isn’t intended to be offensive or to convey any type of exclusion against people who aren’t mothers, it is simply another name for cloth pads, however wide spread and incorrectly targeted it may be. Who would have thought it could be the topic of an article such as this eh?