The Best Postpartum Pads for the Fourth Trimester

Pads aren’t just for periods—they’re also a postpartum essential.
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By Emma O'Regan-Reidy, Associate E-Commerce Editor
Published March 13, 2023
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You probably haven’t touched a pad since your pre-pregnancy days (or maybe even before that!)—but if you’re approaching your due date, they’re about to make a swift comeback in your life. Postpartum pads are a fourth-trimester essential, whether you deliver baby vaginally or via c-section. As your body heals post-birth, expect to experience bleeding and discharge known as lochia. Postpartum pads absorb these fluids and prevent leakage, keeping you comfortable throughout the recovery process. Ready to find the perfect addition to your favorite postpartum undies? Below, read expert-backed advice about what to expect post-delivery, then shop the best postpartum pads for every need.

Do You Need Postpartum Pads?

“Postpartum bleeding typically lasts four to six weeks after delivery,” says Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s sexual health expert. Lochia (aka postpartum bleeding) consists of blood, clots and tissue from the uterine lining, explains Gil Weiss, MD, an ob-gyn based in Chicago. You can expect three types of lochia: rubra (bright red blood which lasts three to four days), serosa (pinkish-brown blood which lasts four to 10 days) and alba (whitish-yellow discharge that lasts up to 28 days). And since tampons aren’t an option while the vagina is healing, new moms typically use postpartum pads to collect the bleeding and discharge that follows birth, Ross explains.

So what’s the difference between a pad for periods and a pad for postpartum bleeding? In some cases, there aren’t any; you could stick with your go-to menstrual pads if they work for you. On the other hand, some have been specifically designed with lochia in mind. These options tend to be longer and wider in the back, and are also more absorbent, says Weiss. Likewise, he adds, they’re often made with soft, cushioned materials that are gentle against the perineal area, where new moms may be experiencing swelling or pain.

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If you’re not a fan of pads, or are looking for a more sustainable option, consider purchasing a few pairs of disposable underwear or period panties to absorb leakage. Some brands, like Knix, even offer reusable underwear options specifically designed for the postpartum period.

What To Consider When Buying Postpartum Pads

Lochia can be messy—very messy, says Ross, which makes picking the best postpartum pads all the more important. Feeling overwhelmed when you step into the pad aisle—or maybe don’t have time to browse with baby in tow? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Keep the following features in mind to find the best postpartum pads for your needs:

  • Size and style. Just like menstrual pads, postpartum pads come in all shapes and sizes. Different options offer different levels of absorbency, so be sure to pick one that aligns with how heavy your flow is. Others also have wings to provide extra anti-leakage barriers, says Ross. For protection as you sleep, opt for postpartum maxi pads that are made for nighttime usage.

  • Quantity. When stocking up on these postpartum essentials, you may be wondering how many you’ll need to get you through the next week (or even the next day). Weiss recommends changing pads every four hours—especially in the beginning—which equates to roughly six pads a day. New moms can expect to use postpartum pads for an average of four weeks, Weiss adds. In other words, that translates to a total of 168 pads overall—however, you may need more or less, depending on your unique recovery process. And, remember, as goes on, the amount of bleeding will change, so you might not need the same level of absorbency throughout.

  • Material. The perineal area is sensitive post-birth; you may even be experiencing hemorrhoids or recovering from vaginal tearing from delivery. To make yourself as comfortable as can be, Ross suggests choosing a pad made from cotton or one that has cooling agents.

  • Ice pads. Looking for more targeted relief? Instead of purchasing standard period pads, consider postpartum pads that contain additional features. Take ice pads, for instance. These unique designs can be placed in the fridge or contain cooling agents, resulting in a cold compress that doubles as an absorbent pad. They can soothe vulva, vagina and perineal swelling and pain post-delivery, says Ross. However, keep in mind that they’ll have to be changed more frequently than typical pads.

  • Witch hazel pads. Another option is witch hazel pads. The plant-based product contains chemicals called tannins, explains Ross, which can “help minimize discomfort caused by delivery trauma to the vulva, perineum and rectum.” Plus, witch hazel offers some bacterial-fighting properties to help reduce infections, adds Ross. This natural astringent typically comes in the form of a wipe or a liner that can be added to a postpartum pad.

Best Postpartum Pads for Every Need

Postpartum pads aren’t one-size-fits-all for a reason. You know your body best, so choose an option that aligns with your unique recovery needs. No matter what type of postpartum pad you have your eye on, we’ve got you covered. Below, check out the best postpartum pads to keep your comfort intact and leakage at bay.

Overall best postpartum pads

First up on our list of the best pads for postpartum bleeding: Always Infinity Flexfoam Pads. If you’ve used them previously for your period, you’ll know they’re made from breathable, flexible foam that seamlessly conforms to your body, resulting in optimal comfort. Depending on how heavy your flow is, you can choose from five different absorbency levels to avoid leakage. Plus, the pad’s super-absorbent top layer pulls moisture away from your skin to keep you feeling dry.

What We Love
  • Wings for extra protection against leakage
  • Breathable, flexible design
Things To Consider
  • Not specifically designed for postpartum bleeding

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 16, 32, 46, 96 or 184 pads
  • Available in five sizes

Best witch hazel pads postpartum

If you’re experiencing perineal swelling, pain or general discomfort after giving birth, postpartum pads infused with witch hazel can offer targeted relief. Take this option from Frida Mom, for instance. These liners can be worn on top of your postpartum pad of choice to soothe soreness. You can use witch hazel liners after your first post-delivery trips to the bathroom—plus, you could even pop them in your fridge for even more cooling comfort. Note: These are designed as pad liners, and they aren’t intended to absorb lochia.

What We Love
  • Offers targeted, cooling relief to the perineal area
  • Infused with witch hazel; free of dyes, fragrances and chemicals
  • Can be placed in the fridge
Things To Consider
  • Pad liners can’t be used alone to absorb lochia

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 24 pad liners

Best postpartum ice pads

Swelling is a common occurrence after giving birth, which is where postpartum ice pads can come in handy. New moms can count on these maxi pads to offer soothing relief and collect blood and discharge. Each postpartum ice pad can hold up to 260 grams of liquid, and is long enough to cover the entire perineal area. To use, simply bend the pad to activate the cooling agents inside, then chill out and experience 20 minutes of targeted comfort. What’s more, you can even use these postpartum ice pads as cold therapy on your c-section incision.

What We Love
  • 2-in-1 design works as an ice pad and an absorbent maxi pad
  • Long, wide style fully covers the perineal area
  • Simply bend the pad to activate cooling agents for 20 minutes
  • Can also be used to soothe c-section incisions
Things To Consider
  • Reviewers say that they’re bulky
  • High price point

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 8 pads

Best overnight postpartum pads

Need more coverage as you snooze (or at least try to)? These overnight postpartum pads have got you (and your backside) covered. They have a larger, wider back than an average pad and quickly wick away moisture to prevent leakage throughout the night. Plus, wings offer an extra barrier while keeping the pad securely in place. Choose from five sizes based on your underwear size and how heavy your flow is for optimal coverage.

What We Love
  • Larger than average pads to prevent leakage throughout the night
  • Affordable price point
Things To Consider
  • Not specifically designed for postpartum bleeding

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 20, 27, 36 or 108 pads
  • Available in five sizes

Best postpartum pads for stitches

If you’re recovering from an episiotomy or experienced significant tearing, you’ll want a postpartum pad that’s delicate against your healing stitches. Enter: These organic postpartum pads. Specifically designed for new moms, they’re 16” long and 32 times more absorbent than typical menstrual pads. Better yet, these postpartum pads are made of several layers of 100 percent organic cotton, resulting in plush protection; reviewers can’t get over how soft they are!

What We Love
  • Specifically designed for postpartum
  • Made from 100 percent organic cotton
  • Reviewers say they’re softer than expected
Things To Consider
  • Reviewers say they’re bulkier than average pads

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in a pack of 24 pads

Best organic postpartum pads

On the hunt for the best organic postpartum pads? Look no further than this option from Natracare. The pads for postpartum healing are made from natural materials, making them a soothing solution for new moms with sensitive skin. Best of all, reviewers say that they’re absorbent and soft without being bulky.

What We Love
  • Made from all-natural, biodegradable materials
  • Reviewers say they’re soft and absorbent
Things To Consider
  • No wings

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in a pack of 10 pads

Best postpartum panty liner

Have a lighter flow? Opt for a postpartum panty liner, like this one from Poise. The microliners can be counted on to absorb wetness and odor caused by blood, discharge or urine. What’s more, they’re ultra-thin, so you’ll barely notice they’re there as you go about your day.

What We Love
  • Ultra-thin, absorbent design
  • Unscented
  • Regular- and long-length options are available
Things To Consider
  • No wings

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 50 or 100 pads
  • Available in six sizes

Best reusable postpartum pads

Knix Reusable Overnight Leakproof Pads
Image: Knix
Buying Options
Knix | $40

Looking for a sustainable alternative to postpartum pads? These reusable options from Knix are sure to check all of the boxes on your list. This pack is designed for overnight usage, making them great for absorbing heavy lochia after giving birth. The standout postpartum pads hold up to 19 teaspoons of urine or 20 teaspoons of blood (aka the equivalent of using 20 tampons!). Plus, rather than sticking to your panties, they have a hook-eye closure that stays put as you move. When you’re done using them, simply put these pads in the washing machine for fresh, seamless protection again in no time.

What We Love
  • Thin, extra-long style
  • Features four layers of leakproof technology
  • Reusable, machine-washable option
Things To Consider
  • Only available in one size
  • Initially more expensive than other options

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of three pads
  • Available in one size

Best postpartum disposable underwear

Incontinence is common post-delivery as a result of a weakened pelvic floor. If you’re experiencing urine leakage, a heavy flow of lochia or simply prefer the feel of disposable undies, we recommend Always Discreet Underwear. Thanks to an absorbent core and stretchy fabric, they’ll keep you comfy and dry throughout the day (or night!)—and, best of all, reviewers say they don’t look bulky under clothes.

What We Love
  • Offers more coverage than standard pads
  • Quickly absorbs blood, urine and discharge to keep your skin dry
  • Made from smooth, stretchy fabric that looks seamless under clothes
Things To Consider
  • They’re lightly scented

Specs at a glance:

  • Comes in packs of 19, 32, 42 or 64 pairs
  • Available in two sizes

About the experts:

Sherry Ross, MD, is an ob-gyn and women’s sexual health expert. She’s also the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. She received her medical degree from New York Medical College.

Gil Weiss, MD, is an ob-gyn who works throughout The Loop in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois. He’s a graduate of the University of Toronto in Canada, and attended medical school at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He completed his residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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