I know of many people who shun cloth diapers because they're scared of poop, and they choose disposables because they feel that they'll deal with less poop that way. I've changed many cloth diapers and many disposables and I've come to an important conclusion: if you're changing diapers, you are going to deal with poop. You'll see it, you'll touch it, you'll smell it and you aren't going to deal with it anymore with cloth diapers than you are with paper ones.
Poop and Disposables:
The problem with disposable diapers is that they just aren't as well made as cloth diapers and they leak--especially with that yellow breast milk poop that we're all so familiar with. I have experienced many disposable blow outs that resulted in clothing changes for not only the little one, but the adult who was holding him or her at the time.
Another other issue with disposables is that if you leave a baby in their wet diaper for too long, that diaper can explode, leaving nasty, yellow bits of gel everywhere.
Something that most disposable diaper users ignore or don't take into account is the fact that you are NOT supposed to throw poop away. You're supposed to scrape poop from your sposies into the toilet just like we do with cloth diapers.
Of course, when babies get to a certain, curious age, disposable diapers are easily opened and the contents spilled. I'll never forget the day my teenaged younger sister who was babysitting at the time found our littlest sister in the play pen with an open diaper. She sat there gleefully playing with her own poop. Whether it was because her diaper exploded or because it was simply opened, I'll never know. I just remember coming home to find them bathing her as quickly as they could and cleaning up all the evidence in her play pen before my parents came home to scold them.
Poop and Cloth Diapers:
One of the ways you will definitely have to deal with poop and possibly touch it with a cloth diaper is the step between the baby's bottom and the wash. Somehow, the majority of the poop needs to be transferred from the diaper to the toilet before the diaper is washed. This can be done by dunking, scraping, spraying, or using flushable diaper liners. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you can skip this step as breast milk poop is completely organic and can go into your washing machine as is. However, I always sprayed it off, anyway, because I felt better about putting the diaper into the wash with less poop in it.
Blowouts can definitely happen with cloth diapers, but they don't happen nearly as often as they do with disposables. Generally leakage occurs when the diaper isn't fastened correctly or if there is an improper fit. So basically, if you have the right size diaper and it is fastened correctly, you aren't going to get nearly as many leaks with cloth diapers as you will with disposables. In fact, I don't think I remember a single time in two years of diapers that my daughter had a blow out when her diaper fit well and was secured properly. But I do remember one or two blowouts that happened in the two weeks that she used disposable diapers.
Curious babies will be able to open some cloth diapers, but not others. Diapers with Velcro or aplix closures are easily opened by little, learning fingers, but diapers closed with snaps are not as easy to open. When our daughter started opening her diapers, we simply took steps to avoid subsequent poop explosions by switching to snaps or covering the diaper with pants or shorts. However, this lesson was not learned until she'd had an art session with an open, poopy diaper and her crib. My poor husband had to wipe the poop off of every, single rung after bathing her and stripping all the bedding.
Basically, my conclusion is that you're actually going to deal with less poop when using cloth diapers than you would with disposables because 1) Cloth diapers are more reliable, and 2) Cloth diapers offer you so many options in regards to style and fit. So, if poop scares you, go with cloth. You'll definitely deal with less of it.