Best nursing pads for new moms.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed your baby with many benefits.

Unfortunately, there’s an annoying and embarrassing problem that comes with the territory:

Leaking breasts.

You hear a baby cry on the radio and the next thing you know, you’ve got two telltale wet patches on your shirt slowly expanding. Eek.

It’s bad enough dealing with breast milk leaks at home when all you’ll need to do is a little extra washing. But, when you’re out at the grocery store? Or worse, when you’re back at work in a meeting with your boss or a new client?

Nursing pads help save your dignity by soaking up excess milk leakage and many have a waterproof backing that won’t let milk leak through to your shirt. 

It’s perfect for the busy mom who doesn’t have time for endless extra washing or keeps forgetting to carry that spare cardigan in summer to hide the evidence… (aka every mom)

Note: this blog post probably contains affiliate links, which means we may receive small commissions from purchases made through links in this post (at NO extra cost to you). You can read our full disclosure for more information.

Our Top Nursing Pad Recommendations

Eco Washable Reusable Bamboo Nursing Pads

BEST ORGANIC OPTION

Check Price on Amazon

Bamboobies Nursing Pads for Breastfeeding

BEST WASHABLE ALL-ROUNDER

Check Price on Amazon

Rebabies Eco-Friendly Organic Bamboo No-Leak Bra Pads

BEST BABY SHOWER GIFT

Check Price on Amazon

Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads

BEST DISPOSABLE ALL-ROUNDER

Check Price on Amazon

NUK Ultra Thin Disposable Nursing Pads

BEST DISPOSABLE FOR LIGHT LEAKAGE

Check Price on Amazon

Nanobebe Disposable Nursing Pads

BEST SHAPED DISPOSABLE

Check Price on Amazon

Quick Navigation

What Are Nursing Pads and Why Do You Need Them?

Nursing pads are small pads that you stuff into your bra. Hands up f you thought your days of bra stuffing were over with your teenage years…

These nursing pads are super absorbent and stop any breast milk leaks from soaking through your nursing bra and through your shirt. Saving your dignity and your modesty.

But, what’s with the leakage in the first place?

If you’re new to momming it, or haven’t had your baby yet, here’s the deal:

In the early days of nursing, your breasts are doing their best to produce enough milk to keep your baby fed and keep up with demand. For some moms, it seems the boobs try to make enough for twins… or even triplets! 

What causes breast milk leaks?

  • pressure – when your breasts are full, even the slightest pressure (like cuddling your baby to your chest) can cause leakage.
  • your letdown – in the early days, your breasts may feel like they have a hair trigger let down. If you so much as hear a baby cry or think about your baby too much it can trigger your breasts to let down some milk. 

There’s no way to tell how much your breasts will leak until your baby arrives and you experience it for yourself. But, most moms do leak at least a little bit in the early days so it’s worth having nursing pads available to control the mess!

Types of Nursing Pads – Disposable vs Washable

There are two main types of nursing pads you can buy: disposable or washable. There are pros and cons for both sides and different uses for each. 

Here’s the scoop so you can choose what’s right for you:

Disposable Nursing Pads

Disposable nursing pads are similar to an ultra-thin sanitary pad (only smaller and rounded). They have an adhesive backing which helps the nursing pad stay in position in your nursing bra. 

Disposable nursing pads tend to be:

  • sold in bulk, so you can use and change them as frequently as you want to.
  • they stick to your bra so they tend not to shift as much with exercise and activity.
  • they are usually plastic backed so are capable of keeping big leaks from going through to your shirt.

On the negative side, disposable pads are:

  • not as breathable (because of the plastic backing)
  • not environmentally friendly
  • can still move, roll down in your nursing bra and get stuck in awkward positions.
  • nipples can stick to the nursing pad (which can be painful, but is relatively common with disposable pads)

Washable Nursing Pads

Washable nursing pads are made with cloth and can be washed, dried and reused over and over. They are often constructed with multiple layers that include a relatively waterproof backing, absorbent inner layer and a moisture wicking outer layer that helps keep you feeling dry. However, there are many different brands and the construction differs between them.

Some reasons you might love washable nursing pads are that they are:

  • environmentally friendly
  • you don’t need to buy more – just wash and reuse
  • breathable, less likely to cause thrush
  • they tend not to stick to your nipples like disposables can
  • most brands get softer with use

On the negative side, washable nursing: 

  • have to be washed and dried prior to reusing (so you need to make sure you have enough and really keep up with your laundry schedule.
  • need to be changed more frequently
  • move around more easily during activity as they don’t have a sticky backing
  • can leak easier as there’s no plastic backing – some washable pads will leak through the stitching of the seams
  • you might need to use special nipple balms designed for washable pads (depending on the brand you buy)
  • washable nursing pads are prone to black mould growth if not washed quickly after use and dried correctly. Most washable nursing pads care instructions say to use a machine dryer to ensure that all bacteria and milk residue is sanitized between uses.

How do you decide what nursing pad is right for you?

There’s no one right answer – you might find there are times when you want the convenience of a disposable and other times when you want to use washables.

As a basic guide:

For exercise? Disposables are less likely to move.

For overnights? Washables may be more breathable and comfortable.

Environmentally friendly? Washables win every time.

Avoiding chemicals and plastics? Washables are for you.

3 Benefits of Using Nursing Pads

As a new mom, nursing pads are one of the most helpful things you can have in your bag of tricks to make your life easier.

  • minimises the need for washing – it’s much easier to wash (or use and discard) a set of nursing pads than it is to be constantly needing to wash and dry your nursing bras and shirts.
  • helps you feel more secure in public – soaking through your shirt can be embarrassing, especially when in public. 
  • helps tender nipples stay dry and protected from the fabric of your nursing bra – most nursing pads wick the wetness away which can help your nipples feel better. Also, if your nursing bra fabric is a little rough (most aren’t exactly soft) your nursing pads might be softer and nice on sore nipples

What should I look for in nursing pads?

Although most nursing pads are one size fits all, they definitely aren’t! Some moms will prefer different styles and types depending on their needs.

When you choose your nursing pads, keep in mind: 

  • comfort – are these nursing pads comfortable for you?
  • fit – do they provide enough coverage?
  • absorbency – are you a heavy leaker? Do you need an overnight style just to get through the day?
  • your activity level – do you plan to do a lot of exercise? Or are you very active in day to day life?
  • visible under clothes – nursing pads are supposed to be discreet. Are they visible under the usual sort of clothes you wear?

The Top 10 Nursing Pads 

Here are the best of the best nursing pad options for moms.

Top 6 Washable Nursing Pads

1) Eco Nursing Pads

Eco Nursing Pads come in a pack of 10 (5 sets) containing two different styles for lighter and heavier leakage. Colorful and contoured for a better fit, this pack comes with a laundry bag to keep things contained in the wash.

Speaking of washing, these do great either hand or machine wash but do best going through the dryer (the heat ensures every drop of moisture is gone and bacteria is killed) – they actually become softer over time too!

Pros

  • comes in a convenient 10-pack so you don’t have to wash too frequently.
  • contoured shaping for better fit
  • 2 different styles for lighter days and overnights
  • customer service is excellent
  • organic materials used in construction

Cons

  • somewhat visible under skin tight clothing.
  • need to be worn with a bra (not a nursing tank)
  • flower style is prone to fraying around the edges
  • tend to move around
  • can leak under heavy flows (the seams are NOT leak proof)

2) Bamboobies Super Soft Washable Nursing Pads

Washable nursing pad favorite here! This pack contains 4 pairs of pads – 3 sets of heart-shaped, ultra-thin, pads for daily use and 1 pair of overnight pads. 

Moms love the ultra soft bamboo rayon velour which is heaven on sore nipples! With time these even soften further. You can machine wash or hand wash, but best to dry them in the dryer (unless you’re having roll up issues, then you might try dry them flat.)

Pros

  • contains 8 nursing pads (4 pairs)
  • the ultra-thin heart-shaped pads are practically invisible under clothing
  • both ultra-thin and overnight styles included in the pack
  • waterproof polyester lining to prevent leaks
  • ultra soft bamboo rayon velour for sensitive nipples
  • multiple positioning options with heart-shaped style

Cons

  • some pads will roll up after washing (however, use is not affected)
  • can leak under very heavy flows (especially the ultra-thin style)
  • overnight style is not contoured or shaped which can lead to bunching.

3) Baby Bliss Natural Bamboo Reusable Nursing Pads

Finally! A nursing pad that comes in different sizes. As a larger breasted lady, I think it’s a bit ridiculous to expect a nursing pad to fit correctly on an A cup to a H cup… The Baby Bliss pads come in sizes ranging from M – XL and are contoured for a better fit.

This pack also comes with a mesh wash bag and like most reusable nursing pads, can be washed by hand or machine and is best dried in a dryer to avoid mold. 

Pros

  • contains 14 nursing pads (7 pairs)
  • multiple size options for smaller and larger ladies
  • contoured style for a better fit and less movement.
  • soft plush terry feeling which is nice for sore nipples.
  • don’t make ‘crunching’ noises when repositioning discreetly (unlike disposables).

Cons

  • not as discreet as some other options. Can be seen through tight clothing.
  • heavy leakers may leak through (or need to change more frequently.)
  • not as moisture wicking as disposables

4) Mother-Ease Reusable Nursing Pads

Made in Canada, Mother-Ease nursing pads come in 3 ‘flavors’: organic, bamboo and stay dry. The stay dry has a special moisture-wicking layer to keep you feeling fresh even through letdowns. 

Pros

  • contoured style for a better fit and less movement.
  • moms love the large size of these nursing pads for better fit and coverage.
  • very soft, comfortable and absorbent
  • discreet and don’t show through most clothes

Cons

  • terry cloth may be too rough on damaged nipples (or if you have a bout of thrush)
  • heavy leakers may leak through (or need to change more frequently.)

5) Kindred Bravely Organic Nursing Pads

Kindred Bravely provides a 4 pair set of organic nursing pads with a cute fabric carry case. The back of these nursing pads is made of PUL, a waterproof fabric to stop leaks while the inner layer is a soft bamboo to ease sore nipples. 

The bamboo fabric becomes softer with each wash and should be tumble dried to keep things sanitary.

Pros

  • work well for larger busted ladies
  • contoured style for a better fit
  • don’t shift around much when in position

Cons

  • visible through thin or tight clothing, or nursing tanks.
  • don’t wick as well as disposables, so can start to feel damp after letdowns.
  • can have small loose fibres coming out after washing, however, this doesn’t affect the performance of the nursing pad.

6) Rebabies Organic Reusable Nursing Pads


If you’re choosing nursing pads for a baby shower gift – this is the set! The presentation is beautiful and the nursing pads themselves are quality, absorbent and organic. This set contains both day use and overnight nursing pads with absorbency levels to match. 

Pros

  • comfortable, affordable and so soft.
  • these nursing pads are quite large which helps them stay in position and not shift around.
  • make a perfect gift set with mesh laundry bag included.
  • organic and very absorbent.

Cons

  • visible through clothing when wearing a thin bra.
  • not contoured or shaped – this may be a pro for some ladies!
  • no waterproof layer, heavy leakers be warned!

 

Top 4 Disposable Nursing Pads

7) Lansinoh Stay Dry

The bestselling disposable nursing pad in the USA – Lansinoh Stay Dry are great at keeping dampness at bay helping you feel fresh all day long. The honeycomb pattern adds comfort, while the adhesive backing ensures that your nursing pad stays exactly where you position it. 

Pros

  • 8very absorbent with a waterproof adhesive backing – perfect for heavy leakers
  • very thin and discreet under clothing
  • contoured shape for better fit
  • adhesive backing to help the pad stay put through activity
  • latex free for those with allergies

Cons

  • not biodegradable, however, the individual wrappers can be recycled.
  • may cause itching on sensitive skin
  • may roll down and shift position after nursing

 
8) Bamboobies Disposable Nursing Pads for Sensitive Skin

Bamboobies disposables are made with bamboo for sensitive skin and moms agree they are very soft!

Like all brands of disposable nursing pads there are some drawbacks to the Bamboobies: the environmental impact, pads sticking to cracked nipples and bunching up after dropping the cup on your nursing bra to feed. This was the most frustrating issue for me when feeding my little one – once the nursing pad was bunched up the adhesive side would occasionally stick to the nipple… ouch!

Pros

  • very absorbent with a waterproof adhesive backing – perfect for heavy leakers
  • soft and not itchy like other disposables can be
  • adhesive backing to help the pad stay put through activity

Cons

  • visible under thin clothing and nursing tanks.
  • may roll down, bunch up and shift position after nursing
  • not contoured

9) Nuk Ultra Thin Disposables
 

I challenge you to find a thinner nursing pad on the market – either disposable or washable! 

Note these are recommended for light leakage and established milk supplies only… so they won’t hold up to heavy leakage or engorgement in the early days of nursing. 

Pros

  • ultra-thin design
  • comfortable and soft
  • inexpensive compared to other brands

Cons

  • not great for overnights or heavy leaks (but to be fair, they state that upfront!)
  • some versions contain minimal adhesive or none at all which cause shifting during activity
  • can’t pack them into a diaper bag as they aren’t individually wrapped

10) Nanobébé Day and Night Disposable Nursing Pads

 

 

This sleek and classy design comes to you from Nanobébé and doesn’t it look fine! This multi-pack includes 40 ultra-thin daytime nursing pads and 20 super absorbent overnight nursing pads.

Pros

  • ultra-thin design
  • sophisticated shaping contours well to the breast
  • very absorbent and lasts longer without changing – great for heavy leaks
  • very comfortable

Cons

  • may not be great for women with larger breasts

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Pads

How many reusable nursing pads do I need?

There are a couple of factors that will help you determine how many reusable nursing pads you need:

  • how often do you want to wash them?
  • how heavy is your leaking?
  • how often do you change your pads?

Luckily, reusable nursing pads are usually sold in sets containing multiple pairs. I recommend starting with around 10 which should give you enough to wash every other day.

What are washable breast pads made of?

Washable nursing pads are made of fabric – the type depends on the brand. Common fabric types include:

  • terry cloth
  • PUL (for waterfproof backing)
  • micro suede

Some washable nursing pads are made with organic fabrics.

When should I wear nursing pads?

You should start wearing nursing pads once your milk start s to come in, usually around day 3 after your baby is born. 

How long do you need to wear nursing pads?

Wear nursing pads until you don’t need them anymore – once your milk supply is regulated and you stop leaking frequently. This usually happens after the first few months, however, it’s different for every mom.

How often do you need to change your nursing pads?

If your nursing pads feel wet, change them. Change them as frequently as you feel is necessary.

Can you wear nursing pads all day without changing them?

Some nursing pads are absorbent enough that you might feel confident going for a full day without changing them. If you aren’t leaking much, you may be happy to do this, however do keep in mind that it can be a thrush risk.

How do you clean washable nursing pads?

Your best bet is to follow the manufacturers care instructions as washable nursing pads are made from different fabrics depending on brand. Most will recommend a warm wash and a thorough dry through your machine dryer to make sure all the bacteria is killed before reuse.

How can you make your own nursing pads?

If you have a few spare burp cloths or terry diapers, you can easily make your own nursing pads by cutting, layering and sewing fabric together. Or you can always just stuff your bra for overnights with the cloth (no sewing required!)

If you have spare cloth diaper inserts, these would make for super absorbent nursing pads (great for overnights!).

In Conclusion

In those first few weeks and months of breastfeeding, you need the support of nursing pads which will stop you leaking through nursing bras and shirts causing mess and extra laundry.

Why not have the best of both worlds and have a stash of disposable and washable nursing pads? Old favorite, Lansinoh Stay Dry, is perfect for days when you are out and about, travelling or exercising while the Bambooties Super Soft Washable give you options for days (and nights) at home.