9 Best Nursing Pads for Breastfeeding Moms
Breastfeeding can be a joyous experience but it also comes with a unique set of challenges, one of the most common being leaky boobs. Leakage can happen for a variety of reasons—your milk just came in, you have an oversupply or you’ve been away from your baby—or seemingly no reason at all. Whatever the cause, leaky breasts may leave you uncomfortable and embarrassed (with stained clothes to boot). Luckily, there’s an easy fix, and it comes in the form of nursing pads.
Yep, that’s right: After having a baby, you’ll most likely be wearing pads in your underwear and your bra (lucky you!). Nursing pads come in different shapes, sizes and types—deciding which option is best comes down to personal preference. Below find answers to a few frequently asked questions then browse our pick of the best nursing pads for every need.
Nursing pads—also known as breast or nipple pads—are absorbent fabric inserts that slip inside your bra and soak up excess breast milk. Typically made from soft cotton or a bamboo blend, nursing pads can be worn inside a tank top, maternity bra or pumping bra.
There are three primary types of nursing pads: disposable, reusable and silicone, and each come with their own set of pros and cons. Disposables are convenient but can be costly; reusables are more economical and eco-friendly but need to be washed; and silicone pads are pricey but can prevent leaks from happening in the first place.
The amount of nursing pads needed differs from person to person. The Mayo Clinic recommends changing breast pads regularly and you should always swap in a new pad if the one you are wearing is wet.
Aside from this, it depends on whether you’re using disposable or reusable nipple pads and how often you intend to do laundry. Disposable nursing pads tend to come in a pack of 100 or 200 (although smaller boxes are available); whereas reusable pads typically come in packs of 8 to 10.
While it can be tempting to stock up on postpartum supplies before baby arrives, we recommend testing a few different brands before purchasing nursing pads in bulk.
Pads you can clean and reuse will save you a bundle in the end; just make sure to stock up on several pairs, so you’re not left in the lurch when your pads are all soaked through. On the other hand, if the prospect of doing yet another load of laundry fills you with dread, disposable nursing pads might be the way to go. Slip them in and toss them when you’re done—it doesn’t get easier than that. Ready to start your search for the best nursing pads? Find our favorite reusable and disposable options below.
In the world of nursing pads, Lansinoh reigns supreme. These insanely absorbent nursing pads soak up 20 times their weight in liquid, while still being relatively thin for a discreet fit. Better yet, two adhesive strips ensure they stay exactly where you want them (day or night). The pads are also some of the softest in the disposable game, which will have your sore nipples breathing a heavenly sigh of relief. Still not convinced? Just look at the gold-star reviews from thousands of mamas.
Type: Disposable | Material: Paper pulp and sodium polyacrylate | Count: 100 pads
- FSC-certified material
- Fragrance free
- Individually wrapped for convenience
- Some parents say the pads bunch up and chafe their nipples
Itchy and uncomfortable these are not: Bamboobies nursing pads manage to feel like cashmere against your sore, sensitive skin—and just keep getting softer after every wash. Which brings us to our next major benefit: These washable nursing pads are not only eco- and wallet-friendly, but also low maintenance. Just toss them in the washing machine and dryer, and they’re ready to go again. This multi-pack includes three pairs of regular heart-shaped pads to wear during the day and a larger circular pair for overnight use.
Type: Reusable | Material: Rayon from bamboo | Count: 8 pads
- Thin and easy to conceal
- Soft velour material is gentle on sensitive skin
- Machine-washable and dryer safe
- Wash before first use
Pegged as the number one doctor recommended nursing brand, Medela offers a wide selection of breast pads. Our top pick? These ultra-thin disposable pads. At less than 2 millimeters, they are among the most discreet nursing pads for breastfeeding moms but the absorbent polymer core locks in moisture leaving you dry and fresh. Granted, they won’t be a match for heavy leakers—but for those looking for some backup against unwanted let-down, these can’t be beat.
Type: Disposable | Material: Polyethylene, polypropylene| Count: 120 pads
- Affordable price point
- Waterproof back layer and absorbent core
- Contoured shape and wide adhesive strip helps keep pads in place
- Regular absorbency
If you have sensitive skin or struggle with sore nipples, organic nursing pads are the way to go. Why? Organic materials tend to be naturally breathable, hypoallergenic and soft, resulting in less chafing and irritation. This reusable set by Kindred Bravely is our current favorite. Made from OEKO-TEX certified bamboo, these nursing pads are incredibly soft, super-absorbent and are free from harmful chemicals that may do damage to your tender skin. Plus, the pads are contoured to the shape of your breasts for a discreet and comfortable fit.
Type: Reusable | Material: Viscose from bamboo | Count: 10 pads
- Super-soft and absorbent
- OEKO-TEX certified materials
- Comes with a waterproof bag for storing wet pads on the go
- One size fits most
- Hand wash only
Bras aren’t one size fits all, but nursing pads typically are—which can make finding the right fit and coverage a struggle. Keababies takes care of that by offering three different sizes of reusable nursing pads: Medium (A to C cup), Large (B to D cup) and Extra Large (D cup and higher). BabyBliss pads also have a contoured shape (a rarity among washable nursing pads), making the fit that much better. Need further convincing? Over 20,000 people have awarded these pads five-stars on Amazon—and mama does know best.
Type: Reusable | Material: Bamboo-cotton blend | Count: 14 pads
- Four layers of absorbent material
- Organic bamboo lining
- Waterproof outer layer protects clothing
- Some parents say the pads don’t stay in place
Next up on our list of the best nursing pads is a set with serious staying power. Designed with a unique silicone exterior that grips onto your bra or top, these pads will stay firmly in place. And because your needs may vary throughout the day this set comes with low profile breast pads for lighter leaks and full-coverage pads that offer maximum protection day or night. Both options feature a soft bamboo lining that’s gentle on sensitive skin and sore nipples.
Type: Reusable | Material: Polyester, silicone, cotton and bamboo | Count: 12 pads (3 pairs full-coverage and 3 pairs low profile)
- Grippy silicone backing
- Made with organic cotton and bamboo
- Two different pad sizes offer customizable coverage
- Relatively high price point
A nursing pad that prevents leaky boobs sounds too good to be true—but thanks to LilyPadz, it’s a reality. Rather than absorbing any leaking breast milk, LilyPadz are made of medical-grade silicone that places pressure on the nipple to stop any leakage in the first place. You stay dry and your milk doesn’t get wasted—the ultimate win-win.
Type: Reusable | Material: Silicone | Count: 2 pads
- Gentle pressure prevents milk leakage
- Made from medical grade silicone
- Great option for nightime
- Relatively high price point
Instead of using nursing pads to absorb leaking breast milk and then toss it (either in the trash or the wash), what if you could collect that liquid gold with breast pads that save milk? That’s the idea behind the Milkies Milk-Saver On-the-Go pads, which discreetly slide into your bra or tank top and collect up to an ounce of breastmilk at a time. The spout design makes it easy to then transfer into a breast milk bag or bottle, so that you don’t waste a single drop.
Type: Reusable | Material: Silicone | Count: 2 cups
- Each cup holds up to 1 oz. of breast milk
- Top rack dishwasher safe
- Good option if your free breast leaks while you nurse baby
- Visible under clothes
- Some parents say the cups leak
Rather than combatting leakage, these breast pads are specifically designed to provide soothing relief to dry, cracked nipples. The natural gel layer cools the inflamed area and helps heal minor irritation, while the soft fabric backing prevents your breasts from chafing against clothes. These pads can be reused for up to 72 hours (just make sure to hold onto the original packaging to store them in). Keep them in the fridge for an extra layer of cooling relief.
Type: Disposable | Material: Vegetable-based glycerin | Count: 2 pads
- Reusable for up to 72 hours
- Gel layer soothes sore nipples
- Pads can be stored in the fridge to enhance cooling
- Expensive for a single set
- Not designed to absorb liquid
We get it—nursing or pumping requires a lot of gear, and it can be hard to find the best fit for your needs. To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing breast pads, including material, absorbency, value and practicality. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having dependable nursing pads that won’t let you down.
To decide which nipple pads are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading maternity brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for families, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating. And since many of us are also parents, we rely on our writers’ and editors’ experience using these products in their own lives.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
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