What Are The Best Nursing Pads? (2018 Reviews and Ratings)
Even as you embrace the joy of breastfeeding for its own sake, you may learn that breastmilk does not only flow when the baby is hungry.
Leaks can become a new reality to adapt to, but with the best nursing pads, your clothes won't show stains and you can stay dry, comfortable, and healthier too.
There are many attributes to consider when purchasing nursing pads, and we will be reviewing a few of them to determine which is the right one for you.
At a Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for 2018
Let's get started:
Types of Nursing Pads
Depending on your lifestyle, you may stick with just one type of nursing pad or switch between several, as they all have their separate advantages and disadvantages.
In general, the three types are:
1. Reusable nursing pads
They are great if you want to save money, help the environment, and know that you will have the time to keep them clean and dry whenever you need them.
However, many women find that they may need several reusable pads because they have to be washed and dried between use, and with a new baby to care for, finding time to do so can be difficult. They also have a slightly higher initial cost.
Reusable nursing pads are normally made out of cotton fabric, and have a nonstick side to keep them from falling off the breast.
They can be washed in a standard washing machine, and you can often buy them with the washing bag included to keep them from getting lost or damaged in the machine.
2. Disposable nursing pads
They can vary significantly in terms of materials, so you will want to study the labels to see if any use plastic lining.
Many are made of cotton-like material, and meant to be used once then thrown away.
While they are less Earth-friendly than the reusable kind, they work well for women who are traveling, at work, or going out on errands because it is easy to bring along enough for an entire trip.
The price may be lower initially, but if you keep needing more boxes, it can add up to a higher amount than purchasing a set number of reusable pads.
3. Silicone Nursing Pads
They are a short-term option many women use under fancy clothing or while swimming.
They do not hold moisture the way cotton-based pads do, but apply gentle pressure to the breasts in order to prevent leaks from happening.
Their sticky surface applies directly to the breast to hold them in place. (source)
How to Choose the Best Nursing Pads For Your Lifestyle
Ideally, nursing pads should be comfortable, effective, and easy to wear.
You should change the pads whenever they get wet, which might mean changing them a couple times a day or more, depending on your needs.
You should also avoid nursing pads with a waterproof or plastic liner, as those tend to hold more moisture and lead to soreness or even yeast developing where the pad presses against the skin.
The best will allow your skin to breathe even as they do their job.
Many women will combine both washable and disposable pads during the 3-4 months that they need them. Disposables are especially useful early on, when the flow is at its most irregular and leaks occur more often.
However, as time goes on and life settles into its new, exciting routine of a new baby in the home, many women make the switch to reusable nursing pads and throw them into the wash regularly to keep their supply on hand.
If you need to make your own nursing pads to catch sudden leaks, you can use a disposable diaper or feminine pad, then cut them down into a circular shape that fits inside your bra.
If those are not available, you can use almost any type of cotton fabric, because cotton is high absorbent and soft against the skin.
Other things to look for:
Best Ways to Use Nursing Pads
The video below has some additional tips for using nursing pads while out and about.
For one thing, you can layer thinner pads together for additional comfort or, if you are going to start breastfeeding but want to save a mostly dry pad for later, you can remove it and place it into your pocket while your baby eats.
How to Avoid Leaks While Breastfeeding
Advantages and Benefits Of Nursing Pads
To protect your clothes and save your sanity, you are going to want to invest in the best nursing pads.
Few breastfeeding moments can be as frustrating as a leaky breast, and few moments as embarrassing as a nursing pad falling out at the wrong moment and having to stuff it back in while out in public.
Not only are leaks embarrassing and uncomfortable, they can stain your clothes and ruin an outing. That is why many women will place nursing pads under their bra to catch leaks and prevent staining their clothes.
Typically, nursing pads become necessary during the first few days after giving birth, until your breastmilk becomes more regulated. Usually, that occurs after the first three or four months.
If you plan on breastfeeding during that time, you will want to have a supply of nursing pads ready. It is normal for those months if you leak after going a few hours without a feeding, when your baby cries, or when it is almost time for a feeding.
You will need a steady supply of nursing pads because it is important to change them soon after they become wet.
If you leave them against your skin, they can cause yeast infections, soreness, and possibly even leak through if the flow is heavy enough.
Protection and thickness varies across different types and brands, so you may want to use some for overnight usage and others for daily wear.
What Can Happen if Nursing Pads Are Used Improperly?
When done right, breast pads are safe and hygienic. They also protect your clothing from stains caused by breastmilk fat.
Yet as with anything that presses against your skin all day, you will want to make sure they are being used correctly.
The biggest risk is bacteria
The warm, moist environment of overused nursing pads can become a breeding ground for bacteria which can then clog the milk ducts or cause illness and infection.
However, as long as you change the breast pads frequently when they become wet, bacteria will not have a chance to grow against your skin.
Yeast and thrust, while rare, can also occur more frequently in women who use nursing pads.
Approximately half of all women carry the Candida yeast on their skin harmlessly, without ill affect, but the warm dampness of a used nursing pad also gives it a breeding ground to turn harmful (source).
Again, as long as the pads are used correctly and changed regularly when they become soaked, there is very little risk, and the benefits easily outweigh them.
For those who are concerned, or have heavier than usual flow, disposable nursing pads may be a better option than reusable ones.
It is easy to buy more and will prevent the issue of what to wear if you were to run out of clean ones and need to wash them again.
Some women will keep disposables on hand as a backup even if they regularly use reusable nursing pads.
Nursing Pad Reviews
Here are our top 5 choices in 2018:
The Johnson and Johnson Company disposable nursing pads are smaller and contoured to make them fit discretely behind your bra while wearing them, and a rustle free exterior so you cannot hear them under your clothes.
Their discreteness gives them an advantage for women who need something to wear to work or at the grocery store that won't show.
One unique feature is the nipple indentation, which is meant to fit more comfortably over sore nipples.
The Johnson Nursing Pads are disposable, non-scented, and have a sticky back to hold them in place.
2. Hey Mama Disposable Breast Pads
The Hey aa pads are designed to help women who want a disposable pad that will stay in place and remain cool and comfortable as long as it is there.
They use a double adhesive to the bra for additional sticking power.
These pads have a three-grooved system for channeling leaks into the pad for moisture control, and can absorb up to 85mL.
The 3-D contoured design is meant to fit on multiple sizes and shapes and still stop leakage.
3. Baby Zeli Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads
The Baby Zeli Organic nursing pads are a top bamboo nursing pad for their comfort against the skin and their leak-proof design.
They come in several colors, which can be both a fashion statement and a way to blend in with the shirt you may be wearing that day.
The nursing pads are highly durable, machine washable and become softer after repeated washing.
They are hypoallergenic and a good choice for women who are sensitive to cotton or plastic breast pads.
There is cloth on both sides, and no sticky adhesive, but they are built to fit snugly and not shift around while wearing them.
One advantage of bamboo is that it allows airflow to move easily through the material, but also absorbs a high amount of liquid, so you get the best of both worlds in a reusable pad that is organic, natural, and eco-friendly.
4. Bamboobies Washable Reusable Nursing Pads
Ideal for the breastfeeding mom who cares about where her nursing pad comes from.
They use a mixture of bamboo, cotton, and polyester to create a breathable nursing pad that feels soft against the skin yet is both reusable and absorbent.
You can wash them in the washing machine or by hand. They are heart shaped, both for aesthetic reasons and because the shape helps keep them from wrinkling and bunching up under your bra.
Since they are made of sustainable materials and reusable, they are a very Earth-conscious choice, without sacrificing quality, as they are highly absorbent and will keep your clothes dry.
There are two varieties: overnight for heavy leaking and regular width for daily use.
5. Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
The Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry pads use a quilted pattern lining on the outside to boost their absorbency rates, with a honeycomb to allow breathing and stop leaks.
Each are individually wrapped so they can be easily thrown into a purse or carrying bag for breastfeeding ease wherever you go.
They have a discreet fit to avoid showing out from under your clothing, and the same contouring keeps them comfortable even after they get wet until you have a chance to change them out.
Lansinoh makes them with three levels of absorbency: moderate or medium for all day, or ultra strong for overnight, which can hold up to 20x its weight.
And the Winner is...
As all this shows, choosing the best nursing pads requires finding one that offers comfort against the skin, airflow, and absorbency all at the same time.
While all of the ones on the list display those traits to some degree, the best of the five is the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads.
While the disposable type may not have the same eco-friendly options as the bamboo reusable items on the list, it does offer a leak-guard, honeycomb design that draws moisture away from the skin and prevents leaks outside of the pad.
It also has a contoured design and double adhesive backing so women have the comfort of knowing it will protect them for as long as they need it to every day without sliding or bunching uncomfortably under their clothes.
The other advantage of a disposable is that it gives the flexibility to take them anywhere you need to go without worrying about having enough clean and dry nursing pads for the entire day or having to wash them.
That said, they also work very well in conjunction with top reusable pads like the Bamboozies, so that you can choose to have disposable pads on the go or washable pads at home.