Your breasts will probably do a little leaking in the weeks after baby arrives, and nursing pads can hang out in your bra to catch the drips. The idea is to keep your bra, clothes, and nipples dry.
Disposable pads: These are convenient because, well, you can simply throw them away after each use. Opt for pads that feel comfy and allow air to circulate around your nipple. Stay away from anything lined in plastic — they can trap moisture, leading to bacteria growth and sore nipples.
Cloth pads: These are often made of soft, breathable cotton, and can be washed and reused, preventing waste. You can even make your own: Just cut four-inch circles from cloth diapers.
Stick-on silicone pads: These are a fairly new invention and work by compressing your nipples to prevent leakage (rather than absorb it). If you use these, clean them with a vinegar/water solution — regular soap can destroy their stickiness.
Whichever type you choose, be sure to change them ASAP when they get wet. And keep in mind that many moms stop leaking after the first few weeks, so there's really no need to invest in a year's supply.