What are the best breast pads? There is so much choice available it can be hard to narrow it down. As a new mum you’ll leak milk after your baby is born, so it’s important to have great breast pads in your motherhood arsenal. We’re going to give you the low down on what choices you have for breast pads and the benefits and drawbacks of each type.
To find which breast pads are the best for tackling the dreaded wet patches you’ll need to know what features to look out for. We’ve researched all the available pads on the market and sorted the best from the worst. Take a look at the criteria we used to decide what helped us make the cut.
Criteria for the Best Breast Pads
1. Comfort – You’ll be wearing the pads for long periods of time throughout the day, it’s important they are comfortable to wear against your tender breasts.
2. Easy to wear – Do the pads stay in your bra easily without slipping out of place through the day?
3. Leak Proof – The main aim of the pad is to prevent any milk leaking onto your clothing.
4. Discreet – 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. Convenience – How easy are the pads to use and maintain?
6. Price – Low prices are great for infrequent use, but you don’t want to skimp on pad you’ll be wearing on a daily basis, as you usually compromise the features above.
The right breast pads for you will be the ones which perform best in the criteria most important to you.
Top 6 Best Breast pads
Disposable Breast Pads
These are the most commonly used type of breast pads. These little super absorbent pads are bit like soft sanitary towels for your breast. They have a sticky side which help them stay in place in your bra, just remember to put them in the right way around! They are single use only, so should be disposed of in a bin once soaked.
Benefits of Disposable Breast Pads
- Hygienic to use – often individually wrapped, great for keeping in your handbag for emergencies
- Practical – very low maintenance as disposable of after each use
- Discreet – very thin and virtually undetectable under your clothes
- Waterproof – The material absorbs the milk and the waterproof backing prevent it leaking onto your top or bra.
Disadvantages of Disposable Breast Pads
- Cost – As single use pads you’ll need to maintain a supply of these until your leaking reduces.
- Not eco-friendly – if you’re not comfortable with using plastic against your skin, or contributing plastic to landfill, then check out our other breast pad suggestions below.
- Reduced air flow – The waterproof layer in disposable breast pads makes it difficult for air to flow, plus holds in heat and moisture. This environment can make you more susceptible to infections such as thrush.
- Irritating – The plastic materials make these breast pads itchy with a tendency to rub the skin, we recommend avoiding them if you have delicate or irritable skin.
As a rule of thumb we suggest disposable breast pads for convenience and hygiene. Check out our top picks of disposable breast pads.
Lansinoh Breast Pads
These Lansinoh breast pads are hands down the best rated and bestselling disposable breast pads available. Most mums, midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding support workers will recommend these pads to you.
The most surprising thing about these pads is just how absorbent they are for being so thin. A special layer inside turns any liquid to gel and prevent the pad from becoming over saturated, like the cheaper brands, and leaking. Although you’ll pay more for these than the supermarket brands, the extra few pounds is really worth it for comfort and reliability. Our suggestion would be to buy in bulk to bring down costs.
Pros: Really thin, non-slip, don’t leak, individually wrapped
Cons: Lots of plastic (backing and packaging),
Tommee Tippee Breast Pads
Our second choice for great performing disposable pads is the Tommee Tippee Breast Pads. A great performing breast pad which is much more affordable than the Lansinoh.
The first thing we noticed was that these pads are a lot larger than the Lansinoh, so great for large breasts. They are extremely absorbent if you have a lot of leakage. The biggest downside was they had a tendency to move around as there is only one sticky strip on the back.
Pros: discreet, big, absorbent, individually wrapped
Cons: only one sticky strip, not contoured
Washable Nursing Pads
Think of reusable breast pads as the cloth nappy alternative to a disposable nappy. As the name suggests these are most commonly made of a breathable material such as cotton or bamboo, which can be washed and reused.
Benefits of Washable Breast Pads
- Comfort – the material makes them much soft on tender breast than plastic disposable pads.
- Breathable – Again the fabrics are natural occurring and allow airflow through the pads which is great for preventing infection or soreness.
- Durability – A good set of well-maintained washable breast pads can see you through breastfeeding more than one baby.
- Money saving – The initial outlay of pads is more expensive it’s a one only cost, and usually works out cheaper than repeatedly buying disposable pads.
- Eco-friendly – Can be recycled and won’t add to landfill
- Chemical free – a great option for sensitive skin or if you aren’t keen on using plastic products on your skin.
Disadvantages of Disposable Breast Pads
- Maintenance – You have to be committed to regularly washing and drying your pads to ensure you have a ready to use supply.
- Cost – As we’ve already mentioned it is expensive to build a supply. Remember they pay for themselves overtime as it’s a once off payment and they can be used for more than one baby.
- Not Waterproof – If you need more protection against leaks then disposable pads are the better choice. These pads absorb milk but they does not have a waterproof backing to prevent excessive leaks transferring to your clothes.
Washable breast pads are the most natural, eco-friendly and cost effective option. Check out our top washable nursing pad recommendations.
Canny Mum Bamboo Pads
Super soft bamboo nursing pads from CannyMum are the bestselling washable breast pads on the market. Available in three different colours to match you underwear including black, white and natural.
The bamboo fabric feel luxurious compared to disposables and will keep any nasty bacteria or fungal infections at bay. The pads are easily washable in a normal 30-40 degree wash so will be ready to reuse in no time. They are thick so will show through your clothing especially if you have an unpadded bra on, but the thickness helps to absorb a lot of milk.
Pros: Super soft and comfortable, skin friendly, very absorbent, easy to wash
Cons: Expensive, can be bulky in bra
Ana Wiz Breast Pads
A close second place for reusable pads is the Ana Wiz pads. They are really thin with a PUL backing for extra protection against leaks. These pads are available in natural or pink and blue patterned.
If you have large breast then these are the best washable pads for you. The large size also help to hold a lot of milk, which is great if you leak a lot. The pads are soft absorbent bamboo and the waterproof back protects your clothes. We’d highly recommend these for night use if the first few weeks, when you tend to soak through disposable pads easily.
Pros: Budget friendly option, thin, leak proof, soft, large size
Cons: Not contoured, not great for smaller breasts
Silicone Breast Pads
You may be surprised to know there is another alternative to reusable or disposable – the silicone breast pad. This type of pad is a soft layer of flexible silicone which is placed over the nipple to effectively ‘hold’ milk into the breast. They are a rather expensive option for short term use, but are suitable for certain occasional situations such as special occasions or activities.
LilyPadz are a bit of a unique concept, they work by applying pressure to the nipple to prevent leaks rather than catch them. The pads are transparent and thin and are sticky so don’t need to be worn with a bra.
They remind us a bit of boob tape for breastfeeding, and are for short term use only. Although they are washable it is recommended they are replaced after two months of usage. A fantastic solution for women who need to have a very discreet solution to breast pads for a special outfit or for activities like swimming. After use, simply wash, rinse and air dry and then they are good to use again.
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 a great option if you have sore breasts and need to prevent friction to allow you breast to heal. The pads are short term reusable gel pads which stick to the breast.
Like the LilyPdaz they offer short term relief but combine the job of protection the breast and absorbing leaks at the same time. They can also be cooled to provide extra relief for your sore breasts. One set of pads can be worn for up to 72hrs before needing replaced.
Pros: Great for sore nipples, cooling can prevent leaks and provide relief.
Cons: Expensive, Cannot be washed
Breast Pad Basics
What are breast pads used for?
Breast pads or nursing pads are designed to deal with any leakage of breast milk. Even if you decide not to breastfeed you may still need pads in the first week to deal with any leaks until your milk dries up. It will take your milk supply a few weeks to establish if you continue to breastfed or express. During this time you are likely to leak, this may be an excessive or minimal amount.
How to use Breast Pads
Regardless of what type you choose, all breast pads will cover your nipple. The breast pad will either stay in place in your bra or stick directly to your breasts. You should change your pad at least every 3-4 hours or more often if soaked. IT is important to keep your pads dry as the warm, moist environment caused by breast milk can lead to infections such as thrush.
Tips for breast pads:
- Night Pads – Disposable pads perform better for being leak proof, use disposables overnight when most mums tend to leak though onto clothing or bed sheets. Switch to washable pads during the day to let the skin on your breasts breath.
- Keep Backups – With a new baby it’s easy to forget to wash reusable pads. Buy a backup box of disposable pads to keep handy in case of an emergency. Disposables are great for keeping in your handbag when out of the house.
- First Few Weeks – Your milk let down is in overdrive and until your supply establishes you’ll leak a lot. You may want to use disposables until your supply establishes and then change to washable pads once the leaks settle down.