Leaking when you’re breastfeeding is the WORST – especially when you’re at work or in public! I wore breast pads all of the time because I hated feeling like I’d just had an “accident” with my boobs. Here are five of the best breast pads available, and how to choose the right ones for you.
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Two Types of Nursing Pads – Reusable vs Disposable
There are two types of breast pads – reusable and disposable.
Reusable nursing pads generally have a bamboo covering that sits against your breasts, a cotton filling on the inside for absorption of breast milk, and a leakproof lining on the back. However, there are other types of reusable pads that are made of silicone and “trap” the milk rather than absorbing it.
Some reusable pads can be washed in the washing machine, while others need to be hand washed. Usually, reusable pads are more expensive than disposable nursing pads, because you can use them multiple times. (However, most reusable breast pads will need to be replaced after 2-3 months, so they don’t last forever.)
Disposable breast pads are usually made of cotton and also have a leakproof lining on the back. Many brands of disposable pads also have an adhesive strip that you can use to attach the pad to your bra and prevent slippage.
How Often Should You Change Nursing Pads?
You should change your breast pads when they become damp (so basically, whenever you leak). I will admit to using the same nursing pad through several leaks – especially in the beginning when I leaked about once an hour – but ideally, you should change them each time.
This is especially true if you are having issues with thrush, vasospasms, or cracked and bleeding nipples – if you are having any breast health issues, you should discard disposable breast pads frequently and make sure to wash reusable breast pads so that any yeast on them is killed.
How Many Breast Pads Will I Need?
How many breast pads you’ll need to use in a given day depends how frequently you’re leaking.
To estimate how many you’ll need each day, I would count how many times you leak one day – which will be different for everyone – and multiply that by two. (Note that this number will be a lot higher in the first six weeks or so, before your milk supply has regulated, than it will be later on.)
How many reusable breast pads you’ll need depends on how frequently you can wash them. If you leak 2-3 times a day and do laundry every other day, for example, you’d need 8-12 reusable breast pads.
The Six Best Breast Pads
Lansinoh Breast Pads
Lansinoh breast pads are my favorite disposable pair and the ones that I have used most often.
(I once used a pair for an entire day of leaking when my baby was a newborn – don’t do what I did, you might get thrush – and weighed one pad at the end of the day. It held 3 oz of breast milk, so it can absorb big leaks.)
- Lansinoh nursing pads are comfortable, leakproof, and breathable so that you don’t feel “wet” after you leak.
- They have an adhesive on the back so they stay in place. (Though I never used it because I’m lazy and found that they stayed in place without it.)
- These breast pads are sealed individually so you can just throw them in your bag without worrying they will get dirty.
Over the course of a year (or however long you breastfeed), you’ll end up buying a LOT of breast pads, and they aren’t ideal for the environment.
Davin & Adley Nursing Bra Liner
Davin & Adley makes a unique one piece nursing pad that lines both sides at the same time.
Davin & Adley Pros
- One thing that I hated about most nursing pads was one coming off while I slept and having to hunt for it in my sheets the next morning. Since this covers both sides, this happens a lot less with this liner.
- They are well-made and come with a bag for machine washing.
- They are discreet and not at all obvious through clothing.
Davin & Adley Cons
- It sells at a higher price point than some other options.
Kindred Bravely Reusable Nursing Pads
Kindred Bravely Breast Pads are a soft, basic set of reusable breast pads at a good price point.
Kindred Bravely Pros
- Comes with a really cute carrying bag so that you can stick these in your diaper bag and they won’t get dirty.
- Have stitching down the middle of the pad to prevent issues with lumpiness and bunching.
- These nursing pads are at a much lower price point than other reusable breast pads – they are less than $15 for a set of eight.
Kindred Bravely Cons
- Some women who used them said they were visible under a shirt without a padded bra.
These Hey Mama disposable breast pads come in a fun, cute box and are super soft and effective.
Hey Mama Pros
- These pads are made of very soft material and are really comfortable, especially for disposable pads.
- They have an adhesive on the back that help keep the breast pads in place.
- No need to wash these nursing pads.
Hey Mama Cons
- They work best with a padded bra; otherwise, the “pointy” fold might be visible to others.
- May have a higher long-term cost than buying reusable nursing pads if you breastfeed for more than a few months.
- They may be too large for some women.
LilyPadz are a different type of reusable breast pad – they are made of silicone rather than an absorbent material. They are kind of like a menstrual cup for your breasts – they collect the milk for a certain length of time, and then you dump it out when you’re ready.
- LilyPadz are waterproof, so you can use them at the pool or the beach without worrying about leaking.
- These nursing pads are good for the environment, and at a lower price point than other reusable breast pads.
- You don’t have to deal with wet breast pads after your first leak because the milk isn’t absorbed into anything.
- Can be soothing for sore nipples.
- They need to be replaced every few months, so you may need to buy them multiple times if you breastfeed for a year.
- These breast pads need to air dry after washing, which takes time (so you may need multiple sets).
- You need to be careful to get all of the air bubbles out when applying them, or breast milk can spill.
- These are best for women without oversupply and after the newborn stage.
Bamboobies sends you two types of breast pads – one for overnight use, and one for everyday use. The overnight pads (the round ones) are larger and perfect for use when you have a newborn and are leaking frequently. The heart-shaped pads are lighter weight and therefore less noticeable under your clothes when your baby is a little older.
- These are good for sensitive skin. They have an inner layer of bamboo rayon velour for comfort (perfect for new mom nipples), and then the waterproof outer layer to prevent leaks.
- You can wash and dry them with the rest of your laundry in the machine.
- Because there is no adhesive on the back, some users found that they didn’t stay in place as well as other breast pads.
- Some users found that the material sticks to your nipple after it gets wet.
- There is a higher upfront cost than buying disposable nursing pads.
How to Choose Nursing Pads
When you’re trying to decide on the best breast pads for you, here are the things to think about:
- Reusable or disposable breast pads – Obviously, this is the biggest question. Think about how you feel about environmental issues vs washing breast pads. It might actually make sense to do a mix of the two – buy a set of reusable breast pads like Bamboobies, and then buy a box of disposable pads like Lansinoh to throw in your diaper bag for emergencies or to use while your breast pads are in the wash.
- How long you plan to breastfeed – If you don’t plan to breastfeed for more than a few months, it probably doesn’t make sense to invest in a lot of sets of reusable nursing pads. However, if you feel strongly about not using disposable pads, the Kindred Bravely set is priced low enough that it might make sense.
- Where will you use them – If you will be spending a lot of time in a swimsuit, LilyPadz are the best option.
- Skin sensitivity – For those with sensitive nipple skin or recovering from a nipple injury, Hey Mama is the best disposable option and Bamboobies are the best reusable set.
What are your favorite breast pads? Tell us below in the comments!