If you’re going through your hospital bag checklist nursing pads have probably been suggested as a necessary item for after baby. If you’ve never used nursing pads before the options may be overwhelming.
What are nursing pads used for?
Nursing Pads, or breast pads, are similar to sanitary towels for your breasts. They are made from absorbent material and soak up any leaking breast milk. Even if you choose not to breastfeed you may still need nursing pads while you are pregnant until your breast stop making milk. If you continue to breastfeed or express, your breast will more than likely leak until your supply establishes around 4-6 week after birth. Some women leak as lot and others very little or not at all.
How to use nursing pads
All nursing pads are designed to slip inside your bra and cup around your nipple. You should change the breast pads for a fresh clean pad, every few hours, even if they are not soaked. Leaving a pad on too long can lead to leaking or a breast infection as thrush and bacteria love the dark, moist conditions.
We’ll discuss more on the different types of nursing pads below.
Criteria for the Best Nursing Pads?
Regardless of the type of breast pad you choose, you’re going to want the best. This is our review criteria for nursing pads.
1. Comfort – You’ll have them on almost 24/7 so they need to be comfortable, not scratchy and hot.
2. Staying power – You’ll want your pad to stay in place to avoid any leaks. Some pads come with a sticky back to stick to your bra. Other are large enough for the fibres to cling to your bra.
3. Absorbency – You don’t want to use unreliable pads which can leave you with massive wet patches on your tops.
4. Discreetness – If you don’t want it to look like two cloth stick in your bra you’ll want to look for thin options. Remember the thinner you go the more absorbency you sacrifice.
5. Price – A low price may seem like a bargain at the time, but trust up when we say you’ll rely on these pads more than you think. You’ll have a few extra pennies, but a red face and nipples when your tops soaked and your nipples as sore.
It’s always best to list your most important features when looking for a product like this. What works for you may not work for others, so weigh up the pro and cons of each pad.
7 Best Nursing Pads Reviewed
Disposable Nursing Pads
If you ask fellow moms for nursing pad recommendation you’ll find most moms have used disposable breast pads. As the name suggests, these pads are single use only and thrown away after use. There are some great benefits to using disposable breast pads including:
There are a few drawback of using disposable breast pads, which should be considered before you settle on this option.
Cost – A single pack of breast pads are fairly cheap to purchase, however it’s an ongoing cost over the period which you are breastfeeding or expressing. To keep costs down its best to buy in bulk.
Plastic product – You may not be comfortable keeping a plastic based product against your skin for long periods of time. A used pad will also contribute to landfill.
Breathability – A lot of pads claim to be breathable, however they are plastic backed to hold the heat and moisture in. Mom who use disposable nursing pads are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections due to the moist conditions.
Uncomfortable – Made form man-made materials they tend to be itchy and uncomfortable, with a tendency to rub. Keep this in mind if you have sensitive or irritable skin.
Disposable breast pad usually score highly on performance. Check out our top disposable nursing pads.
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
The Lansinoh pads are the mommy of all disposables and undoubtedly the bestselling option. You’ll probably have been recommend these Lansinoh pads form other moms. This brand knows the needs of breastfeeding moms and they certainly performed.
Pros: Absorbent, discreet, soft option available, individually wrapped
Cons: Costs can add up best to buy in bulk, sticky pad could be stronger
Johnson’s Nursing Pads
A close second place is the Johnsons Nursing pads. These pads caught our eye as the highest rated disposable pads. Johnsons state they are 50% more absorbent than other brands.
Pros: very absorbent, strong sticky pad keeps them in place, soft
Cons: quite thick and contoured so not as discreet, not individually wrapped, expensive
Bamboobies Disposable Nursing Pads
These pads from Bamboobies are unique in that they are backed by a viscose bamboo layer to make them water proof rather than using plastic. Not only does this make them more eco-friendly but also breathable for your nipples. They also have a cute heart shaped contour to prevent them slipping or bunching.
Pros: Individually sealed, anti-bacterial fibres, discreet, very absorbent
Cons: Gel like filling can burst open causing a mess
Reusable Nursing Pads
Made from absorbent, natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo, these nursing pads are used, washed and then reused. Using washable nursing pads is similar to using cloth nappies for your baby. If fact this type of pad has had somewhat of a revival in the past decade because of the benefits they offer, including:
- Money saving (long term)
- Chemical free
Washable breast pads are the most natural option. You should also consider the drawbacks of using these pads.
Washing – Ultimately it’s another task some mother can do without. They are small and won’t take long to wash. You’ll need to set up regular routine so you have a supply ready to wear and aren’t caught short.
Initial outlay– At first it will be more expensive to build a supply, or see our DIY options below to save money. The cost work out in the long run as you won’t need to replace them and can be reused with subsequent pregnancies.
More prone to leaks – These pads absorbent but they are not waterproof and will leak through if soaked. You’ll need a stash to replace them frequently, especially if you leak a lot.
Check out our top washable nursing pad recommendations.
Super soft bamboo nursing pads from bamboobies are the best rated washable nursing pads on the market. In each pack you receive three pads of different absorbency to adjust for day and night use. They come in cute heart shapes to contour to the breast and stay in place.
Pros: super soft and comfortable, skin friendly, discreet, very absorbent, thicker pads for night use
Cons: Expensive, can’t use with lanolin as decreases absorbency
Mother-Ease Cloth Nursing Pads
A close second place for reusable pads is the Mother-Ease pads. The are large and so can hold a lot of milk before they will soak through. They are available in three different fibers including organic cotton terry, bamboo terry or cotton terry with a StayDry layer.
Pros: Budget friendly option, Very absorbent, cool and breathable, large size
Cons: Fairly bulky, can grow mold if air dried (try to machine dry)
Silicone Breast Pads
A lesser known third option is silicone breast pads. These are thin silicone shapes which you place over the nipple to apply slight pressure and hold in leaks. They are can be reused either short or long term depending on the brand. The downside of these pads is that they are the most expensive option.
If you need a very discreet option then Lilypadz are the answer. These pads are almost paper thin and can’t be seen with your bra on. They work by applying a slight pressure to the nipple to hold in any leaks. You can use them for up to two month before replacing. The brand accommodate for larger chested mom with a larger size available if you are over a DD cup.
Pros: Great for swimming, Very discreet, great when milk supply is established
Cons: not great for excessive leaking, for occasional use, expensive
These Lansinoh Soothies are short term reusable gel pads. Designed to prevent friction for sore nipples. They also provide cooling relief. They can be reused for up to 72hrs and absorb any milk which leaks.
Pros: Great for sore nipples, cooling can prevent leaks
Cons: Expensive (around $10 for 2 pads), Cannot be washed
Mix and Match
Remember you don’t have to tie yourself down to washable or disposable nursing pads. You can utilize the benefits of both types to meet your leakage needs. Here are some option which may help you figure out what will work best for you.
- Night Leakage? For times when you leak more, such as at night, use disposables. During the day switch to washable nursing pads, wash and leave to dry overnight.
- Forgot to wash? If you opt for washable nursing pads, we recommend keeping a small supply as a back up in case you are ever caught short. You may also want to keep a spare set in your handbag in case of any accidents when out and about.
- Supply establishing? You will leak a lot as your supply establishes. If you are using washable pads you’re more likely yo leak through. You may want to use disposable pads until your supply establishes and then switch to reusable when the leaking is minimal.
Penny Pinching Options
- When at home simply cut up some old face cloths and wear them in you bra. It may look unsightly but it will save your disposable or an extra wash of a reusable set.
- If you are the crafty type make your own nursing pads. Check sites like Pinterest for sewing patterns or Ravelry for knitted or crochet nursing pad pads.
- If you are ever caught short cut up a clean disposable or old cloth nappy for short term use until you can get more pads.