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There’s a lot to get used to with breastfeeding. Something that comes as a surprise to many parents-to-be is that you can start leaking breast milk even before the baby arrives. So buying at least a pack of disposables or one set of reusable nursing pads isn’t a bad plan.
They tend to really come into their own in the early days of breastfeeding when your milk supply often takes you by surprise as your body gets used to breastfeeding. How much you leak has nothing to do with the efficiency of your supply, though. Some individuals need nursing pads even before their babies are born as we said; some only need them until their milk supply is established, while others need them every day even after they’ve stopped feeding.
For many breastfeeding parents, leaks only happen at night time when they are going longer between feeds, while others find their ‘spare’ boob leaks as their baby feeds on the ‘business boob’ and vice versa when they swap - it’s a magical, mysterious thing in many ways! A decent supply of breast pads, however, will cover you for all eventualities.
With so many different types of breastfeeding pads on the market, it can be hard to know what’s best. The main choice is between disposable breast pads and reusables (which you wash and then wear again). But there are various shapes available, as well as different sorts of materials from wool to silicone, bamboo to cotton.
The added bonus with disposables is that they often come with a sticky backing to fix them inside the bra, but lots of nursing bras have a little pocket for your breast pad so this shouldn’t put you off something without an adhesive strip.
There are even a few that promise to either prevent leaks, like the LilyPadz breast pads you’ll see here, and others that collect breast milk for you, so not a drop is wasted, such as the Elvie Collection Cups below.
Have a browse and you’re bound to find something to suit you. Here are the best breast pads, as recommended by parents.
How we chose our recommendations
To ensure we only ever show you the best of the best products, we always do our research thoroughly and make sure every product comes carefully vetted, tested, evaluated and with a clutch of honest reviews to recommend it.
Recommendations from real parents
We know that the best reviews come not from press releases, but from real parents who have tried the products in question, which is why, before recommending any new products, we always ask our trusted Mumsnet users, of which there are more than 7 million each month.
We know we can rely on Mumsnetters for honest feedback, both positive and negative and the mums we went to for advice on buying the best breast pads all had lots of useful information to share on a plethora of products.
We always ensure our information represents the latest recommendations from experts so you can rely on it, and we research each product thoroughly to ensure it follows the latest expert advice and stands up to scrutiny. We also consulted La Leche League for general advice on breastfeeding as well as the NCT for information on dealing with sore nipples while breastfeeding.
Having scoured Mumsnet for real and honest reviews, we also always check out real customer reviews across the internet from parents who have bought the products themselves, and given both positive and negative feedback to ensure every product we recommend comes with a clutch of good reviews.
Celebrated best products
Finally, we always check to see which products have won consumer awards and industry accolades or received recognition from trusted sources and feed this into our analysis, too, to help us choose the best breast pads on the market.
What are the best breast pads?
- Best overall breast pads: Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads
- Best budget breast pads: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Disposable Breast Pads
- Best reusable breast pads: BabyBliss Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads
- Best breast pads for large breasts: Close Pop In Reusable Breast Pads
- Best breast pads for leaking: Nuk Ultra Dry Disposable Breast Pads
1. Best overall breast pads: Lansinoh Disposable Breast Pads
Price: £5 for 60 | Buy now from Boots
“I never tried the reusable ones but the lansinoh disposable ones are very absorbent and very comfortable.” MoreIsMore
Lansinoh’s nipple cream is highly rated by Mumsnet users, asare their excellent value disposable nursing pads. They are very thin and lightweight, but can hold up to 20 times their own weight thanks to a special absorbent core.
They also have two adhesive strips to hold them in place. This helps you to shape them around your boobs for maximum coverage and minimal leaks. Breathable out and inner layers help prevent that ‘damp’ feeling in your bra, which in turn helps guard against thrush and sore, chafed nipples.
The pads are individually wrapped, making it easier to slip them into your changing bag and also means that you can change them after each feed if you need to. While some Mumsnet users say that these breast pads are over-packaged, it does make them more hygienic. The packaging is also recyclable, so they could be worse in terms of the environment.
2. Best budget breast pads: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Disposable Breast Pads
Price: £8 for 100 | Buy now from Amazon
“I used to hunt down Tommee Tippee ones as they seemed to have the most capacity and non-leakiness (I had serious milk surplus).” MsTrilobite
Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature Breast Pads are among the cheapest on the market but still offer great quality for the majority of mums and look and feel top quality. They’re nicely shaped and contoured to mimic the rounded shape of the breast, so you aren’t shoving something that feels like a frisbee into your bra. They also have a special moisture-trapping layer and, like the Lansinoh pads above, are individually wrapped so that they stay hygienic.
The adhesive isn’t as sticky as on some breast pads, but some Mumsnetters recommend not using the adhesive at all. That way, you can slip them in and out of your bra whenever you feed and reuse the same one over a few feeds
The Closer to Nature pads have won several industry awards as well as impressing Mumsnetters and other customers with their excellent value for money and good quality, too.
3. Best reusable breast pads: BabyBliss Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads
Price: £13 for 14 large or medium pads | Buy now from Amazon
“I love BabyBliss Organic Bamboo Nursing Pads! I used them for my first born and have rebought them for baby number two...” MichelleOR84
BabyBliss’s reusable pads come in three sizes so you can easily find one to suit your cup size. They also come with an organza laundry bag to help keep them together in the wash.
Made from super-soft bamboo, these organic breast pads feel really comfy against the skin but also have three layers, including a polyester outer layer to make them really absorbent. They’re gently contoured to fit your natural breast shape.
4. Best breast pads for large breasts: Close Pop In Reusable Breast Pads
Price: £12 for 6 | Buy now from Amazon
“I’ve got a three week old and have pretty big boobs. Using Close Pop In re-usables and so far so good. Cheapest place I’ve found them are on Amazon.” AHPForThe123
Generously sized, these tear-shaped reusable breast pads have you completely covered. They’re shaped to fit your breasts’ natural contours and have a ‘seal-to-skin’ binding which helps to keep them in place. The seal isn’t quite as strong as with the Lily Padz (below) but the breathability is much better.
A polyester layer next to the breast wicks moisture away quickly to an absorbent bamboo Terry core which locks leaks away. This bamboo layer also helps to regulate temperature, helping you feel cooler and more comfortable. On the outside is a layer of waterproof laminate for peace of mind.
You get six in a pack and they also come with a laundry bag to help stop any going missing in a big washing load.
5. Best breast pads for leaking: Nuk Ultra Dry Disposable Breast Pads
Price: £3 for 30 | Buy now from Amazon
These breast pads are super-thin and super-absorbent but they don’t add additional bulk. They are softly curved to mimic the shape of the breast and are virtually invisible under clothes, even under a tight-fitting top..
Each pad is made up of three layers: a breathable outer layer to prevent sweating and dampness, a soft, fleecy inner layer for supreme comfort next to your skin, and a middle layer, which has liquid retention properties to wick milk away and lock it in the centre of the breast pad. Customers say they wore them all night with no leaks.
A sticky strip keeps the pad in place all day or night, if you need it, but if you prefer you can use the pad without.
6. Best silicone breast pads: LilyPadz Non-Absorbent Breast Pads
Price: £17 per pair | Buy now from Amazon
“Silicon ones are great. Wash off and stop stop the leaks, 'stick' to your skin so aren't noticeable”. NewNameAgainAgain
LilyPadz are a great alternative to conventional breast pads. Rather than soaking up your breast milk as a regular reusable pad would, such as the Cheeky Mama pads, below, they are actually non-absorbent and designed, instead, to use a small amount of pressure to stick to your breasts and therefore limit leaks – although you may want to avoid these if you have a history of mastitis.
The makers also reckon you can go braless with them, although that would very much depend on the stage of your breastfeeding journey and how sore your boobs are.
The pads have been midwife-approved and clinical trial-tested. They are washable and reusable for weeks. Wash with a moisturiser and oil-free detergent when needed, then air dry and re-apply. Don’t towel dry these - they tend to easily get bits of lint stuck to them which you’ll never quite get off again.
7. Best breast pads for sore nipples: Medela Safe & Dry Disposable Nursing Pads
Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon
“Medela pads were my favourite, although the Lansinoh ones were a close second. I also had some disposable ones, but they were really thick and leaked so I only used them once.” MinnesotaNice
Medela’s breast pads have a natural-fibre lining, making them extra gentle on the skin. They’re ideal for the early days of feeding when it’s likely your breasts will be super sensitive.
The pads also have an ultra-absorbent core that distributes moisture evenly around the pad by turning it into a gel, keeping it away from your breasts. If you find you’re a big leaker and you don’t get on with the NUK pads we’ve featured above, these would be a good alternative choice.
Each one comes individually wrapped to keep them clean and lint-free, and making it easy to just pop a spare into your changebag. And with two adhesive strips at the back on the waterproof layer, these pads won’t slip around.
8. Best for collecting milk: Elvie Catch Breast Milk Collection Cups
Price: £20 (RRP £30) | Buy now from Amazon
“They collect the milk rather than soaking through loads of pads, and give your nipples a bit of space/air for healing.” Spam88
Elvie, the makers of the first silent wearable breast pump (also a Mumsnet Best winner), have designed an alternative to breast pads that don’t just absorb leaked milk, they collect it – up to 1oz or 30ml per cup, making them slightly different to the silicone LilyPadz we also review on this page, which aim to prevent leaks rather than simply collect the milk. If you’re suffering with mastitis or other breastfeeding issues, the Elvie ones might be the better choice as they let your milk flow freely
The silicone cups sit neatly in your bra and you can then use the collected milk as a top-up feed or to put in your baby’s bath or on their skin – breast milk is supposed to be good for baby acne, cracked nipples or epistimotemy stitches, too.
Each cup is surrounded by a silicone skirt that prevents slippage and can be rotated to find your best fit. Once in place, the cup can collect milk for up to three hours before it needs emptying, cleaning and drying.
9. Best breast pads for small breasts: Cheeky Mama Cloth Breast Pads
Price: £12 for 6 | Buy now from Amazon
“I really liked the cheeky wipe reusable ones, but I did keep a box of Lasinoh ones on hand for when the reusables were too bulky.” ThursdayLastWeek
Cheeky Mama’s Bamboo Breast Pads are shaped for a close fit, making them ideal for smaller boobs. They come in a pack of six (three pairs) and are 11cm in diameter. We liked the fact that they are available in black as well as white, too.
There’s a cotton top against your skin, a cotton inner and a PUL backing, meaning they are thinner than many disposable pads and soft to wear. You can wash them at 40 degrees, too so it’s easy to keep them feeling fresh.
10. Best eco disposable breast pads: Eco by Naty Nursing Pads
Price: £3 for 30 | Buy now from Amazon
“I've gone for both. A couple of packs of disposable ones for the very beginning when I'm sore and knackered and everything is new and overwhelming then reusable bamboo pads for the longer term” Sel2223
If you want disposable pads without quite so much damage tothe environment, Eco by Naty Nursing Pads tick all the boxes.
They are soft, absorbent and thin enough to be discreet, but also made from 100% chlorine-free natural and renewable materials – and the packaging is recyclable, too.
The breathable and natural lining, which draws milk towards the absorbent core, helps to reduce irritation and keep everything feeling fresh and dry They’re also a good choice if you’re still pregnant and aren’t yet sure whether you’ll get on with breast pads and therefore need to invest in reusables. If you’re someone who wants to do your best for the environment but also want a bit of flexibility and to make life easy on yourself, buying some of these alongside the reusable Little Lamb washable pads, below, might be a good compromise.
11. Best breast pads to help prevent thrush: LittleLamb Washable Bamboo Breast Pads
Price: £15 for 10 | Buy now from LittleLamb
“I have LittleLamb ones. Never used anything else, but these are very absorbent. Downside is that they are more expensive and take a while to dry (due to being made of bamboo, which makes them super absorbent).” CupcakesK
LittleLamb Bamboo Breast Pads come in two sizes – 11cm and 13cm. Because they're woven rather than knitted, you get three times the yarn in any one place, which makes them really absorbent. It does mean that they shed a few fibres for the first dozen or so washes though, and woven bamboo also shrinks by up to 10%, but woven yarn that’s shrunk actually absorbs more. They even come with their own laundry bag too.
The other downside some mums mentioned is that, because they are made from bamboo, they are very absorbent so can take a little longer to dry, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You get ten in a pack, and their absorbency means they can last all day, so you shouldn’t find yourself running out. Bamboo has antibacterial qualities and is highly breathable so these are a great choice if you suffer with breastfeeding thrush or any other condition that worsens in warm, damp environments.
They aren’t as ‘shaped’ as many other reusables, such as the Tommee Tippee and BabyBliss pads, but that does mean you can pop them exactly where you need them and move them around more easily
12. Best hydrogel breast pads: Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
“The hydrogel pads are really soothing and help to heal the nipple between feeds. I couldn't use Lansinoh nipple cream as it made mine worse but maybe that's a cheaper alternative. The discs have definitely got me through the first couple of sore weeks this time round.” Roley
These ‘Soothies’ are designed as a short-term solution rather than to be worn long-term as a breast pad, and they’re expensive for something that is, at the end of the day, disposable. However, many mums, particularly new mums, have sworn by them for getting through the early days of breastfeeding or getting past a tricky stage or sore or cracked nipples.
The absorbent pads have a cooling hydrogel inside them (which is vegan, by the way). You remove the sticky backing and carefully place it in your bra between feeds to bring much welcome, cooling, soothing relief to sore nipples. They come with a tray that you can put them on while feeding to prevent them getting lost or picking up fluff, and each pair can be used for up to 72 hours.
As we said, they’re a temporary measure. If you’re still in agony after 72 hours’ use, you do need to speak to the health visitor, midwife or GP, but as a crutch to get you through a difficult couple of days, they’re a must.
There are lots of types of nursing pads available on the market. We’ll help you navigate your way through the best and find the pair for your, erm… pair.
What are the different kinds of breast pads available?
Breast pads are either reusable or disposable. Disposable breast pads usually have adhesive to hold them in place and are thrown away once you’ve used them. Reusable breast pads can be made from bamboo, cotton, polyester or even silicone.
Make sure you opt for ones that are breathable – you can do this by avoiding pads with plastic or waterproof liners. Silicone breast pads are a bit of an exception here; often their purpose is to prevent leaks rather than absorb them, but if you’re suffering with mastitis or similar, it’s best to give them a miss until you’re back on an even keel.
How often do I need to change my breast pad?
You should change your breast pads whenever they get dampas moisture around the nipple can lead to bacteria growth, but otherwise, see how you go. There’s no one answer to how often you should change your breast pad. Some women never leak and never need breast pads. Some need lots in the early days until their supply is established. Some only leak when they experience let-down, while others need breast pads for the whole time they feed and beyond.
In the early days, you might find you need to change your disposable breast pad at every feed – which can be 10 or more times a day. Sometimes you might need to change them after every other feed or you may need to change the side you are not feeding from.
By the time your supply is established, you’ll likely use between one and three pairs of breast pads a day, but some particularly absorbent pads might even last you all day.
Do reusable breast pads work?
Disposable breast pads are great when you're on the go and come individually wrapped for maximum hygiene. But reusable breast pads work just as well and can be used again and again, making them an eco-friendly and a more affordable option than disposable pads.
They can also be more comfortable against the skin than disposable nursing pads, particularly if they’re made from cotton or bamboo. Washing them actually makes them even softer and more comfortable to wear. This can make all the difference in the early days, especially if your nipples are cracked or sore.
Can breast pads cause mastitis?
No, breast pads don’t cause mastitis; it’s usually caused by engorgement and blocked ducts or cracked nipples caused by a poor latch. However, bacterial growth at the nipple can be a contributory factor so you should keep the area clean and dry. As long as you ensure you change your breast pads often enough and don’t let the area become warm and damp, which can lead to bacterial growth, you’ll be fine.
Should I wash breast pads before use?
It’s perhaps a good idea to wash reusable pads before you use them just so you know they’re completely clean. They might feel a little softer for a wash, too.
How many breast pads should I pack in my hospital bag?
Buy a pack of disposables for hospital so you can see if you need breast pads or not. You may find you don’t but you’ll be glad you had them if you do leak. A box of 20-40 should get you through a good few days and decide if you need more or if you want to invest in some reusables.
How long do I wear breast pads for?
Some women find they only need them when they first start breastfeeding. Others carry on using them all the way through and while they wean their baby off the breast, too. It completely depends on how your body works.
Should I wear breast pads at night?
If you want to. Some women prefer to ‘hang free’ a bit at night and let a bit of air at them, but lots of mums find that night time is when they leak most as they’re often going longer between feeds then, so you might want to wear some pads inside a sleep bra if you’re finding you’re waking up in a pool of milk regularly. There’s certainly no reason not to wear them at night.
What are the best breast pads to buy?
Lansinoh really seem to understand breastfeeding and their Disposable Breast Pads are a firm favourite among Mumsnet users. Their domed shape and secure adhesive make them ideal for leaks.
When it comes to reusable breast pads, BabyBliss Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads are very absorbent, yet discreet, making them a firm favourite with many breastfeeding mums.
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