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Everything you need to know about nursing pads – Disposable, reusable, hydrogel and milk saver

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on Oct 29, 2023 · 5 mins read

The first few weeks after birth are full of ‘fun’ postpartum surprises:

There’s a “bit” of hair fall, there’s aching in muscles you didn’t even know existed, and you learn many other wonderful things that your body can do.

And one fun surprise is that your breasts leak!

Yep, there’s no nozzle to turn them off, and the on switch seems to be super sensitive. A long hug from your partner, and even your baby’s cry can trigger your mothering instincts and drive your milk glands into power mode.

But I guess that’s hormones for us mums. We break into sobs after watching one emotional commercial, and the neighbours’ cat’s cries can make our systems go into overdrive to feed an infant. Thank God for nursing pads!

Here’s what you need to know about them:

What are nursing pads for & how do I use them?

Nursing pads are breast pads that have been invented to help mums overcome the dilemma of milk stains and awkward encounters. They’re made from cotton, organic fibres, and even silicone and hydrogel to absorb milk that may leak in between feedings.

You can simply place a nursing pad inside your nursing bra or a regular bra. Some even come with an adhesive strip or velcro to help you keep them in place.

There are four different kinds of breast pads:

  • Disposable,
  • Reusable,
  • Hydrogel and
  • Milk Saver.

You don’t have to pick just one favourite. It is always a good idea to have a few different types in your stash so you can choose one according to your needs.

Disposable pads:

As the name suggests, these can be used once and tossed away after.

The advantages? It’s easy, convenient, hygienic, and doesn’t involve keeping a track of washing. However, it isn’t very eco-friendly, and if you have to use pads very frequently, it can get a bit expensive.

Our advice:

Save these for trips and emergencies. It is also great to have an extra pack at your desk or in your bag for when you forget or just need a little backup.

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How to use reusable breast pads

Reusable breast pads are cloth pads made from natural fibres that are breathable and can be repeatedly washed and reused.

These are great for everyday use at home, for the nighttime, and even for work. You need to have multiple packs so you can change them often and find a washing routine that works for you. This might take a little more time to get used to and a little extra leg work, although they can be easily washed with baby clothes.

One study compared different materials like bamboo, viscose, soybean, etc to see which material performed better in terms of absorbency, air permeability, and antibacterial properties. The study concluded that the best nursing pads are made from soybean fibre.

What we recommended:

Invest in good quality reusable pads and ensure a good washing routine. Pick one made from organic material, and it will last for a long time.

Just make sure you have a good washing and drying routine because unhygienic breast pads can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Hydrogel nursing pads

Here’s another fun postpartum surprise: Sore breasts and cracked nipples. If you happen to get these, we promise, things do get better and these hydrogel nursing pads help along the way.

These genius pads are used as a cooling cushion to help ease soreness and pain and skip the friction that may be caused by the fabric of the bra or the nursing pad.

Plus, they are BPA-free and non-toxic, which makes them completely safe for breastfeeding mothers. Some hydrogel pads are individually packed and can be used for 24 hours, while others can be heated and cooled according to your needs.

Hot and cold breast packs are great when you need something to help with the engorging. (To be honest, they sure beat stuffing cabbage leaves down your bra for engorged breasts.)

If it isn’t obvious enough, I’ll just state it outright. I am a fan of hydrogel pads, and research happens to agree with me. One study found that hydrogel dressings are more effective for pain management than lanolin.

The only con? They don’t soak up the leaks, so you can only tackle one problem at a time.

Nevertheless, it is important to have at least one stack on you for those days when you just need some cooling relief.

Milk saver breast pads

It can be painful to watch that precious liquid gold drip away, which is why these milk-saver breast pads are a good investment.

They do as the name suggests and ‘save’ the milk in a little shell. They’re easy to use and clean, as well as discreet, portable, and comfortable. There’s no need for an intensive washing and drying routine. Just be sure to buy that one that is BPA-free.

How to wear breast pads without a bra

Wearing a bra at home or at night can get quite uncomfortable, but how do you wear breast pads without a bra?

Thanks to nursing tank tops, you can use breast pads without a bra. Another great option is to use soft silicone pads instead of washable breast pads. These have a sticky surface that allows them to stick to your breasts.

Nursing pads have come a long way and have fortunately made leaking milk ducts — and wailing cats, easier to tackle.

As parents, we never stop learning. If you are keen to hear from trusted experts on topics ranging from sleep to starting solids, check out Kiindred’s selection of Kiin Courses. Our panel of experts are some of the best in their fields and are here to make your parenting adventure less mystifying and way more fun. Each course comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee, so you can purchase with confidence.


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