*Updated April 24 2016: woo hoo more reviews!!!
Let’s face it: whether or not you plan to breastfeed, your boobs are going to leak milk. And for as long as you breastfeed, your boobs are going to leak milk. And unless you want to ruin everything you wear, you are going to want nursing pads. But have no fear, I have done the work for you – comparing SIX different styles of washable and disposable nursing pads from four different brands. I’m proclaiming myself to be the world’s first breast pad connoisseur. And oh yes I’ve got real-life photos too! (Of the pads, not my boobs).
Something to think about as you read this review: one of these may be more affordable or more convenient for you, depending on whether or not you are a stay-at-home mama or pumping at work. Or you may have different ones for different circumstances, which is what I do.
You’ll need multiple sets per day especially when your baby is very young; it’ll take 2-6 months for your milk to regulate (where you make just the right amount, not too much).
I’ll tell you what I recommend as I go, both for at-home and on-the-go.
I do have affiliate links here for products I recommend! I was given a few of these to review, but most of them I’ve purchased over the years. Trust that I’ll always tell you the truth!
Disposable Pads: Lansinoh
The Lansinoh disposable pads are great for tucking into diaper bags, breast pumps, in your car’s glove box, etc. I love that they are very thin so you don’t have to worry about bulk under your work clothes. I used these a lot when working/pumping because they were more convenient.
They come individually wrapped and folded in half. For being paper, they’re pretty soft. It feels almost little tissue paper – lots of thin layers. I don’t feel like they’re overly bulky (and as someone who was constantly around 60+ students at a time, noticeability was something I couldn’t tolerate).
I do feel like these paper pads are “loud” – you get that rustling sound when opening or adjusting them. But the big complaint here is just the waste. I hate throwing away the wrapper, and the pad after just one use. So I use these as a convenience or a backup, but nothing more. (Think emergency stash in glove compartment or purse).
Washable Pads: Medela
My first go-to washable pads were the ones made by Medela. I trust this brand for anything breastfeeding and so it was a no-brainer.
I do like that they’re very soft, and they have two unique sides – the mesh net side is what goes against you.
I don’t like that they’re very small in diameter (the smallest of any pads I’ve reviewed), and they’re also the thickest. That means they’re the most obvious under clothes. I think this design also makes them hold less milk but that’s just my opinion.
I like these the least of all the washable pads on this list.
Washable Pads: Ameda
After my less-than-stellar experience with the aforementioned Medela pads, I went back to the store and purchased these Ameda washable nursing pads. And I gotta say, I do like these much better. They are larger in diameter, and not quite as thick. Both sides are the same so it does not matter how you put them in your bra or shirt.
Honestly, you can still see them in your shirt; they are just not as obvious as the Medela pads, but still more so than the disposable ones. The big thing that bugs me about these Ameda pads is that they really lose their shape when you wash them (see that mess in the photo? Yeah…). They get extremely wrinkled and crumpled up, and are a pain to flatten back out. Yes, even if you wash them in a mesh bag. Those wrinkles are hard to get rid of and never completely go away. I’m actually to the point where I’m about to throw a few away because they won’t keep their shape.
These also really discolor badly with breast milk, which I guess is inevitable but it is really obvious with these pads.
Washable Pads: Bamboobies
I’d heard about Bamboobies on some of the mothering blogs I read, but always had decided that they were expensive. When I saw a deal for a free pair, I jumped at the chance to snag some!
I did some light Internet stalking and came up with this information about this company: a mom of three named Kerry wanted to make some environmentally conscious, supersoft breast pads that were absorbent and kept their shape. Bamboobies use rayon velour from bamboo, and also have a milk-proof backing on all washable pads. You stay dry, the earth stays happy. Love it!
Ok so these regular pads are AWESOME – they’re super soft, super thin, and honestly just the only “cute” pads on the market. I was initially surprised by how big they are, but it makes sense as that means they’ll be less noticeable under clothes.
These fantastic pads are a unique shape not just because it’s cute and different, but it also helps the pads to not wrinkle up. Remember when I mentioned that about the Ameda pads? Yup, not an issue here. Brilliant!
I’ve come to find *ahem* that these don’t exactly soak up a lot of leaked milk, so they may not be the best bet if you’re a brand new mom. But they have special overnight pads which I’ve reviewed below!
My only other complaint about these, though very minor, is that they are very flimsy. This should not normally matter – it is just an issue when I am trying to put one in my shirt with one hand! However if I am going out in public, these are the ones I would recommend using. They are by far the most subtle and are quite comfortable too.
Bamboobies Overnight Pads
OK so these things are absolutely fantastic. As soon as you pick one up, you notice quite a few things: they’re extremely soft, they are quite large, and they feel nice and thick. My confidence level immediately went up the first night I went to try these pads, knowing that I would not wake up in a puddle!
The side which goes up against your skin is Bamboobies telltale rayon velour (from bamboo) – it wicks away the milk and is ridiculously soft. The blue side is a soft milk-proof fabric. The leaked milk is absorbed, and stays trapped within the pad.
I have had absolutely no issues with these at all, and I really love them! I’m also six months postpartum and still feel I need something this heavy-duty at night, but to each their own.
The only thing I could see being a setback about this nursing pad is that the pad itself is very large in diameter. Maybe someone who is small breasted or likes to wear low-cut shirts would have an issue with these pads being visible. But then again, they’re designed for overnight, so… hopefully it would be a non-issue.
A box comes with a set of four, and you should really only use them once before washing.
Hands down, these are the only pads I’ll use at night. Ever. Again. I’d also recommend these all day long if you’re nursing a newborn and your milk supply hasn’t stabilized yet.
Bamboobies Disposable Pads
I think out of all the nursing pads I have ever tried, these were the most surprising. I honestly went into this review expecting mediocrity from every disposable pad, but that is not true of these. Once again, Bamboobies are exceeding my expectations!
The first thing I noticed was that these disposable pads don’t make that annoying, loud, tissue paper crunch with every move you make. They’re much softer, probably because they have bamboo viscose on the outside (which is also antimicrobial and antibacterial). A breathable milk proof layer lies on the back with two adhesive tabs.
The full name of these is the “Eco-Pure Premium Disposable” – a mouthful I know, but it identifies them as being eco-friendly and sustainable. In short, a comfy disposable nursing pad which doesn’t make you feel guilty.
Overall I love love love these – the adhesive is great, the pads are quiet (and thicker than the Lansinoh ones) and very soft. If I had one complaint, it would be that the material can sometimes disintegrate a little after a long day of wear. Once or twice I’ve found a small bit of the white top layer “fuzz” on the inside of my shirt. (I’m cheap and I try to wear each pad until it’s really worn out). But I guess they will break down a little after a while… Which makes sense given their reputation for being earth friendly.
By far, these are my favorite disposable pads.
A Few General Notes
You’ll find that, while you’re breastfeeding or pumping, your wardrobe relies on “how easy is it for me to get my boob out while wearing this?” Most of your tighter shirts won’t make the grade; if they do, keep in mind that these pads will all be somewhat visible.
Speaking of a breastfeeding wardrobe, I’ve recently done a similar article for various brands of nursing bras and tanks. You can find it here, same style: photos, honest commentary, all the good stuff for your ladies.
With any washable nursing pad, you’ll notice some discoloration from the breastmilk (usually yellowish). That’s normal and doesn’t affect their absorbency – and hey, it’s better to discolor the pads than your bras and shirts! But some of your reusable pads may look a bit icky after a while; if so, you can lay them in the sun after washing, bleach them, or just replace them.
And speaking of washing, you DO NEED to use mesh bags to put your pads in! Because, um, if you don’t… a pad can get jammed in your washer’s water pipe and make it leak all over the floor. And yes, I am maybe quite possibly speaking from personal experience. God, the look on my husband’s face as he pulled a sopping moldy breast pad out of the clog in the washer connection… Whoops. Sorry babe.
Medela’s pads come with the bag, or you can just buy some generic ones like these.
And if you’re hanging around the house or able to save some milk, please please please do yourself a favor and get a Milkies Milk Saver. I’ve saved over 175 ounces of milk, just sitting there nursing my baby. (What’s really insane is that this is milk I’d normally end up wearing as it leaked out… whoa!). I love the Milkies so much I even gave it its own review which you can read here.
And for all of my breastfeeding and pumping articles, click here.
Finally, I have an entire eBook about breastfeeding, pumping, and formula feeding your baby! It’s part of my Real Simple Motherhood series and you can find it here!
Ta-da! There you have it, the ultimate breast pad comparison. From my boobs to yours, happy nursing!