Nursing pads are a breastfeeding essential, however, finding the right breast pad for your needs can be difficult - you often have to try a few until you find one you like.
With so many disposable and reusable breastfeeding pads on the market to choose from, we’ve found five of the best in each category to make choosing the right ones a little bit easier.
You might want to layer two pads and use both a disposable and reusable nursing pad inside your maternity bra, with the two layers of protection offering peace of mind in case of an accident. Find our top picks below.
What are nursing pads used for?
Are you a new parent? Whether this is your first or your third child, it’s important to know what nursing pads are really used for. According to leading UK pharmacy services, LloydsPharmacy, “Nursing pads or breast pads are worn under your bra against your breast and they stop milk leaking onto your clothing. Whether you chose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your breast will produce milk after you have given birth, you might find that your nipples will leak small amounts of milk throughout the day.”
How often should nursing pads be changed?
Each brand of nursing pad has a different shape, size and absorbency level, which will affect how often you should change the nursing pads. We'd recommend changing nursing pads as soon as they are damp. If you're using disposable options, you can end up using around six a day. That said, how often you change a nursing pad is completely up to you.
The best nursing pads for breastfeeding mums 2021
Best disposable nursing pads
Shortlisted for Best Product for Breastfeeding (excluding breast pumps) at the Mother&Baby Awards 2015
Medela Disposables are made with superabsorbent materials designed to prevent leakage and maintain dryness while still staying discreet under your clothing, making the breastfeeding process much more comfortable for you and your little one.
Our review: "The pads are large in size for larger coverage and therefore less chance of leaking. They are contoured and flexible to fit nicely into your bra. The two adhesive strips also ensure that the pads stay in place no matter what you’re up to.
"They can however, be slightly bulky and are sometimes visible over the top of the bra cup, but if placed properly in the bra then there should be no problem."
Read our full review here.
Shortlisted for Best Product for Breastfeeding (excluding breast pumps) at the Mother&Baby Awards 2019
The Lansinoh Stay Dry Nursing Pads prioritise comfort and security and are one of the most popular nursing pads on the market. They come with excellent leak-proof coverage and a waterproof layer that keeps your clothes protected.
Tried and tested by our mum reviewer, Francesca: "I already have recommended this to anyone who is breastfeeding. It really is the best pad I have found. In the early days of breastfeeding, I found I was leaking quite a lot and this really helped. They are small enough to stash in any changing bag and are super convenient."
Read our full review here.
NUK Ultra Dry Nursing Pads provides great absorption and long-term moisture retention to keep you comfortable while still being thin and contoured, making them virtually invisible under clothing. This product comes with MilkLock technology which is designed to trap all leaks and the soft inner fabric will keep you feeling safe and confident.
Mum review: "Much better than any others and I’ve tried ALOT as I have a fast milk flow and let down randomly throughout the day. A lot of others leaked or became too heavy but these were up to the challenge! Very happy with them would buy again! I like the fact they don’t come in too much packaging like some of the other brands - less faffing about in the middle of the night or if I’m having a quick pour and need to grab one quickly or one-handed!"
This nursing pad is designed to stay put for longer, and uniquely shape to your breast for the perfect fit and superior absorbency. We love that the disposable nursing pads are wrapped in pairs, meaning less wasteful packaging and more convenient unwrapping.
Mum review: "Best I've tried. So comfortable to wear and great for bigger chest ladies. It has a great secure fit due to the adhesive backing on them so great on the go without worrying if you'll leak."
The ultra-thin and highly absorbent NatureBond nursing breast pads are so discreet that only mums know they are wearing them. This product is perfect for workouts at the gym and for a night out as they don’t make your bra look too bulky or pointy.
Mum review: "I have ordered this product for the second time now. They are very good and highly absorbent, they seem to hold more liquid than other pads. Which is ideal for nightime use.
I love that the pads are individually wrapped and folded. The sticky section on the back is just right too, meaning the pad wont slip or become detached."
Best reusable nursing pads
Unlike other brands, the contoured shape of these eco-friendly pads moves to fit your breasts, so there is no bunching in your bra or sliding around. Plus, the neutral colour won't show through clothing. With a total of four layers to each pad (including a waterproof layer and three absorbent, soft bamboo layers), you're unlikely to get any leaks.
Mum review: "As a first time parent, I had no idea what to expect in terms of milk production and leakage, so bought these hoping for a cheap and sustainable solution. I'm now three weeks into breast feeding and cannot recommend these highly enough!
"They're incredibly comfortable to wear, and super absorbent. My baby sometimes sleeps for seven hours at night, and although my boobs become very full and sore, these pads have not leaked once even though they're saturated on the inside - all while remaining soft and comfortable enough to not hurt or irritate sensitive skin. It seems as though they're designed to wick moisture away from the surface layer, and so far I've not had any problems with feeling damp or chafed. They wash brilliantly, dry quickly and so far I haven't noticed any sour milk stink coming from them (even when they've sat in the laundry basket for a couple of days).
"The only negative I could think of is that they're not the slimmest option, which is possibly more obvious on my smaller chest (32B/C). However I think that's a small and negligible compromise to make for such a high quality, sustainable product."
These reusable nursing pads can be found in three different sizes, so you will be able to find the best one for you. This product has all the same advantages as the competitors, it’s comfortable and secure - but also comes with a free laundry bag for them to be washed in and an organisation bag to keep them all together, avoiding the risk of losing any part of it.
Mum review: "After reading the reviews, I wasn’t sure how suitable these would be as I have a strong let down and was leaking a LOT of milk. I finally bought some seven weeks postpartum whilst still leaking lots during and between feeds. I only regret not buying them sooner as I’m saving loads not buying disposables and they soak the leakage up perfectly.
"The only complaint I have is that since they don’t have the sticky strip at the back, they do move around a little. This could just be because I bought large and maybe should have gone for medium but with the heavy leakage I thought large would be better. I’m currently wearing 34C t-shirt style underwired bras and find they just fit in my cups. Overall I’d 100 per cent recommend as they’re better for the environment and purse!"
Another soft and comfortable product that is both highly absorbent and leak-proof. These reusable organic bamboo nursing pads also come with a wash bag and storage pouch. This is very similar to the product above, but it comes with a 10 per cent guarantee of a refund with no questions asked.
Mum review: "I have been using these for almost a week and have zero complaints! I do recommend washing before use though, I forgot to and had little bits of fluff on me. Really comfortable and don't really move around much which is a bonus! I can see me saving a tonne of money as I have been buying the disposable ones until I couldn't get my usual Tesco delivery nor could I get into the shop itself to buy, so I caved and spent the money on the washable ones. Best investment, really wish I had these from the start (baby is 17 weeks). Anyhow enough rambling. They are great, comfortable, barely know they are there unless they're really soggy."
These nursing pads are excellent for mother, baby and the environment. EcoNursingPads promises to use only the best materials to create a discrete and protective product. Made with organic bamboo, they are softer and more absorbent than cotton or disposable pads.
Mum review: "I have waited a while to review these as wanted to test them out first. I definitely wouldn't go back to disposables as they feel so much more comfy and they have the same absorbency. Also disposable pads always get folded and the sticker ends up stuck to my skin which was painful to pull off. I got two packs as I don't always get time to do a wash. Would recommend the contoured ones it helps them stay in place."
This product is made with different materials to result in an ultra-soft and soothing bamboo rayon velour with an absorbent inner layer of cotton and outer milk-proof liner to help prevent embarrassing leaks. It includes two pairs, one for the day and one for the night.
Mum review: "Have been using these for over a month now. Still love them. I wash them with any wash: baby clothes, sports clothes, dark or whites, non bio liquid or sports wash. Also tumble dry them. Still working well. I bought five packs (of 4) in the end as I get through 8 bamboobies in 24 hours. Highly recommend these."