Sorry, but you do need maternity pads. The flow after you have a baby is not the same as a period and you sometimes need two pads at a time. BUT please don't worry about it because the v.heavy flow doesn't last very long and the maternity pads are really comfy when you've just had a baby. Pack some big comfy knickers, too.
As an aside - have you got maternity pads with wings? I didn't, but found that putting a Always ultra night pad (with wings!) under the maternity pad worked much better than just using a non-winged maternity pad.
As for how many - who knows? Depends on what your flow is like, and that seems to vary wildly person-to-person. I think I used at least a box of 10 a day for about a week before dropping to just night pads, but a v. lucky friend of mine only bled for 5 days in total - I think that's v unusual though.
agree - always night pad with wings under a maternity pad - its important to use the proper pad so that you can check correctly for infection etc (the gel in normal pads obscures this).
You will need more pads than you could ever imagine... if your anything like me. I had to wear two pads at once for the first week. i bled for 4 weeks. but remember - you can always pop out for more after you've used your first batch.
I found natracare maternity pads to be THE most comfortable thing ever post birth, nice and soft which is just what you need ... Agree you'll probably go through ALOT at first but the hospital ward should be able to provide you with some too should you need any more whilst you're in. Also, I found that wearing my DH fitted boxer shorts to be much more comfortable than any type of knickers, especially at night...
And while we're on this delightful subject of lochia, how did you deal with, erm, leaking on your bed (at home) and stuff? Was that a bit of a nightmare? Shall I stock up on cheap/old sheets? (I've got two waterproof sheets on our mattress because it's expensive and I love it.)
You can buy maternity mats from Boots - or use the bedwetting kiddy ones. I stuck one under sheet in last couple of weeks in case my waters broke in bed (they didn't) then slept on top of one for first week or so. Also useful for lying on when airing your bits after a wash (helps healing if you can expose them to air as much as possible)
Another post birth tip from my midwife - wee in the shower with cool water directed at the area! Then air dry.
I only bled heavily for a day or so, then was basically like a period for about ten days after that.
The mothercare pads are awful- like a brick in your knickers. I liked the Boots ones. Once it slows down a little after a week or 2 you can use ordinary pads. At night I used to wear 2 pairs of enormous knickers to hold the pad in place.
I bought those disposable maternity knickers for the first day or so, but I've bleed terribly, and for weeks after with all three. Tescos and boots pads were okay, bit I agree the Mothercare ones were very uncomfortable, especially when wearing two straight after, they're very hard. I also got those dry night disposable sheet things (for children) to put in bed. After dc1, I had a plasticky mattress cover, but I used to end up soaked through with sweat (very sweaty nights for a few days after giving birth) and the mattress cover didn't help. Those dry night things help if, like me, you're constantly sitting up in bed and shuffling about trying to get comfortable enough to breasfeed when all your bits are sore.