I have never used paper pads or tampons...
Growing up, my grandmother made my pads for me as a special gift when I started my period. My mother did not allow tampons, (never really wanted to use them anyway), so I have used mama cloth for let's see, 17 years now. (I am a young mama of 29, but my cycles began early at age 12)
My favorite place to get my cloth for both post-partum and regular cycles (whenever they occur...I haven't had one since the birth of my first boy 5 years ago!) is www.mom-and-me-creations.com
Jen's pads (called Heavenly Mamas) are the closest to the cloudlike pads that my dear grandmother used to make for us, and she (like Grandmother) uses hemp which I LOVE against my skin. I would use nothing else. They become softer with each wash, I can choose the fabric, and wear with or without the inserts. She has a lot of try it out options, and I would highgly recommend her pads for their durability, and softness.
I have a cool pad pot that my aunt made for me that keeps everythig discreet. All I do is cover them with cold water and a drop or two of tea tree oil or lavender, change the cold water daily until I wash with my baby wipes. I have never had stains because I wash often. I keep them in a drawer with a lavender sachet, so they smell lovely when I put them on too.
My friends in high school were always curious, some were downright mean about it, but I didn't care, using cloth tied me to my grandmother who has been so much of an influence on me. And like she used to say, "If they don't get it, it wasn't meant for them..." In college, it wasn't a problem, I actually converted most of my friends to cloth by that point...
I converted quite a few hospital nurses to cloth after I had ds#1, and my midwives were really impressed with the fact that I have never used anything other than hemp.
My dh loves that we never have to go down the diapering or feminine products aisle in the market, and I love that I have never spent $$$ on paper/plastic/who-knows-what-else products that are worn during such a feminine time.