How to Stay Abreast with the Best Breast Pads for Nursing Leaks?

While I was still pregnant with my eldest, I would chat with friends back home who already had their babies. One stern warning I got was from my friend Kathy who clued me in the breast leakage. I vaguely recalled reading about it in one of the many baby books.

What I remember most vividly today is Kathy’s story. She said not long after she had her son, she’d gone to the store by herself while her parents stayed with the baby. It was an ordinary grocery shopping experience until a baby started crying loudly in the next aisle. I will not forget how she said this to me either…

“It was like, SPLOOSH! Waterworks! Suddenly, my boobs were gushing milk, and it was leaking through my top!” she’d told me. Fortunately, she had a hoodie around her waist, so she repositioned it over her breasts, finished her shopping at a record pace, and hurried home.

Kathy told me that I should get breast pads and never leave home or sleep without them. In China, I didn’t even know where to begin looking for them. But thankfully, I didn’t have to. My family sent me a box of essentials, and in it, they thoughtfully included a few boxes of nursing pads. So I was well covered, pardon the pun. 😉

Ok, so don’t look at me like that. Nursing pads are not something you have to wear ALL the time forever. You’ll only need them in the early days of breastfeeding while your body gets used to milk production. And some of you might not even leak! My friend Nicole said she never once leaked, and she wound up returning her unused purchase of reusable nursing pads.

Others of you will leak everywhere for several weeks like I did, or on rare occasions, you could wind up like my friend Lacey who dealt with it for an entire year until her son Clive weaned.

And as Kathy had warned me, leaking can happen at any time.

It could happen in your home with your own baby’s crying or while you are out without your baby, and you hear another baby cry. Your breasts could become hugely full and just start leaking out too. Once you become intimate with your husband again, you may leak then also. Sometimes, you just leak. And that is precisely why you want those nursing pads.

Fortunately, you’re spoiled for choice with the best nursing pads for leaking. But before you get them, here’s a rundown on the different types.

Different Kinds of Nursing Pads

While I didn’t get to pick out mine, I was incredibly grateful for them. They were disposable, so that made life easy. They were absorbent and soft, and I didn’t feel like my breasts were trapped with them.

One word of caution, though: you should always change your breast pads out when they get wet. In fact, if you return to work and have the reusable kind, you may want to get disposables to tuck in your bag. Having that wetness up against your breasts all day could cause skin irritations, make your nipples sore, and even encourage infections like mastitis and thrush. 😟

There are so many kinds of these breast pads in size, shape, and function. Some allow you to secure it with adhesive strips in your bra and some contour to your breasts. I’ll go through all those features best nursing pads review below.

Before I get into my list of the top rated nursing pads, here are the kinds of breast pads you will find:

Disposable

These are very convenient for travel and when you’re on the go. I had disposable, and they served me well. You wear them until they get wet, and then you just toss them. They are not all created equally as they have different shapes and thicknesses. Much like maxi pads and tampons, you may have to buy a few brands to try out and see which you like best.

Reusable

Definitely more cost-effective, these are designed to be washed and used over and over. Of course, that means they’re environmentally friendly. One pair won’t do it, though. You’ll need quite a few of them, so you’re covered when you’re doing laundry.

Silicone

These are more of a preventive type. They don’t absorb but instead, give your breasts gentle pressure to keep leaks from happening. They’re soft but sticky to adhere to your boobs naturally. You can wear them without a bra, which is helpful for sleeping or at a formal event and has a plunging neckline.

Hydrogel

If you have sore nipples, hydrogel pads are for you. They won’t help with leaking, but they are incredibly relieving for those awful breast pains.

Some women even make their own though you can’t really get the best fit. After I stopped leaking with my youngest, I still had almost a full box of nursing pads leftover. I went to a mom lunch with the other expat moms, and that’s when I found out Allison was trying to use cut-up maxi pads or old socks (clean ones, of course) to help with her leaking. I gave her the rest of my box, and she was so thankful she didn’t have to worry anymore. Just get the breast pads…I promise you they’re worth it.

So, what are the best nursing pads out there in 2020?

1. Lansinoh Stay Dry: Best disposable nursing pads for breastfeeding!

It fails my mind to remember which brand of disposable nursing pads I had. But I have several friends who explicitly used the Lansinoh brand and were more than just a little enthusiastic about them.

My friend Kim said these were her go-to best disposable nursing pads. “They were like the best maxi pad out there but for your boobs. I remember feeling a leak while I was at work, yet I felt completely dry. These soaked it all up, and they were really comfortable,” she told me via email.

They’re contoured to fit discreetly in your bra, waterproof to prevent mess, and come with adhesive strips to keep it secure, so no worrying it will just pop out in the middle of the board meeting as everyone gasps in horror.

Bottom line:

Lansinoh has been a big brand for moms and babies for 35 years. It has even won awards, and I personally know 4 different moms that used them, and each of them recommended them. These are disposable, so if you want to save the environment, I think you might want to choose something else. For busy moms that are on the go, disposables are most convenient, and I think you’ll love this brand, which gives you 200 breast pads for a reasonable price.

2. Medela Safe & Dry Ultra-Thin: Best nursing pads for leaking!

Medela is another big name brand moms tend to gravitate toward. The catch with these though is you kind of need to know how massive your leakage is. These are made for light to moderate leaking, and while they do a fantastic job for that (says my friend Andrea) with an absorbent core and waterproof layer backed up with a leak guard, if you have heavy leakage, you will need to change them much more often.

Andrea’s leakage wasn’t out of control, and she said she loved Medela, but her sister-in-law didn’t. “My SIL had very heavy leakage, and she constantly had to change these. She went through the box of 120 pads just like that!”

One thing I noticed that might bode well for you, especially when compared to Lansinoh, is that these Medela breast pads have an entire adhesive-covered backing, which seems even more secure. Andrea liked that too, and she said it was very comfortable against her sensitive skin. So, if you have skin that is easy to irritate and want to use disposables, Medela might be for you. It costs less than Lansinoh; however, you’re getting only 120 in the box rather than 200.

3. BabyBliss Bamboo: Best eco-friendly reusable nursing pads!

My friend Melinda is what we lovingly refer to as a “tree hugger.” She loves the earth and everything on it, so when she got pregnant with her first, I knew what to send her for her baby shower. I didn’t know anyone who had used these BabyBliss bamboo breast pads, but from the description, they sounded like a perfect fit for Melinda.

You can order them in 3 different sizes, and each pack of reusable nursing pads comes with 14 nursing pads made from bamboo and polyester. They’re contoured and designed for comfort. Plus, they come with a unique laundry bag, so you never lose them.

After the baby shower, Melinda sent me a thank you. But it wasn’t until after she had her daughter Brianna that she really thanked me. “I love these reusable nursing pads! Thank you so much! I had no idea I’d need them at all, and I should have known you KNEW I did. This was one of the best and most useful gifts for the baby and me. Thanks for thinking of Mother Earth too!”

See? This is why we all love her. She’s just so sweet. 🤗

In any event, if you want to save the planet and keep skin from being irritated, these top reusable nursing pads are an excellent choice, and for the price, you get 14 of them and a laundry bag, which is a wonderful bargain.

4. Bamboobies Reusable: Best washable nursing pads!

Ok, so the heart shapes are adorable, no? I love that, but the thing I see here is that the best nursing pads for small or large breasts aren’t really covered. With the BabyBliss, you have more options for getting the right fit because they are offered in 3 different sizes.

But these Bamboobies are great for washable nursing pads. You get 3 pairs of them that are heart-shaped and adorable. Then you also get 1 pair of a really thick overnight nursing pad. The ones for day time are much thinner. I think this is great for moms with a minimal amount of leakage. If you leak a LOT, though, you will go through all these pads in a flash, using your backup ones and then standing around waiting for laundry to hurry up.

Is this comfortable?

My friend Jessica used these, and she said they were very comfortable for her. It’s made from bamboo viscose, and she told me they’re really soft and very good with leaks. “My leaking wasn’t too bad, though. I wound up buying a second pack of these because the 4 you get wasn’t enough, and I wish I’d known that beforehand, but I was delighted with how they worked for me,” she said.

Jessica was happy with her purchase, though I should point out that Bamboobies, cute as the name and shape are, cost more than the BabyBliss option. So if budget is a concern, think about that and the likelihood that you will need much more than 4 pairs of reusable breast pads.

5. Kindred Bravely Organic: Best nursing pads for sensitive skin!

None of my friends had used Kindred Bravely, but we all would have definitely tried them as we discussed these. They’re entirely organic and derived from bamboo, so if you have sensitive skin and want a washable and reusable nursing pad, this is for you.

You also get 8 of them in a pack at a very fair price. Bamboo tends to be more durable than cotton, and the drawback I’m told of the washable ones is they get a lot of washing, and if you have to use them for a while, they will eventually wear out. These were made by moms though, moms who have been through this thing before where hindsight is always on point.

Interesting fact:

With bamboo, it absorbs more and lasts longer. The interior features highly absorbent microfiber while PUL fabric on the exterior adds a waterproof layer of protection. Since they’re natural, they allow more airflow. Plus, it comes with an adorable wet bag that you can stash in your bag when you’re out and about. The price is right, and it’s a good option for moms who want the best nursing pads for heavy leaking and a natural product.

6. Cache Coeur Curve Ultra Soft: All-day leak protection!

Cache Coeur’s Curve nursing pads can be found at Target. My friend Rachel practically lives in her local Target. She had received some disposable breast pads at her baby shower, but they “weren’t cutting it” as she put it. She kept going through tons of them, and she wanted to see about another brand.

Her husband watched little Carter, and she enjoyed the bliss we as moms have come to love of roaming the aisles at Target. Here’s more from an email Rachel sent me:

“I was enjoying my Starbucks and taking my time through the aisles. I then saw a female employee, so I asked her where I’d find breast pads for nursing. It turns out, she was a mom too, and she told me she had something better in stock than the disposables. She handed me a 2-pack of the Curve nursing pads and told me they were amazing. She said if I hated them, I could return them, but she insisted they were the best. I got home and put them in, and all day, I stayed dry and comfortable. There were no leaks, and it soaked up everything, so I didn’t feel wet. I loved these!”

On the package, it says you get 9 hours of protection, which Rachel said was definitely right. Designed for comfort and hygiene, these are made with antibacterial materials that are soft and keep skin from cracking and chafing. They’re curved to fit your breasts so you don’t have to feel like EVERYONE can see them.

These are a great choice and a little pricey for just 2, but they do hold up so much longer. Rachel said she had gone back and gotten a second 2-pack as a backup, which she encourages you to do if you buy this brand.

7. Medela Soothing Gel Pads: Best cooling nursing pads!

Sometimes, it’s not the leaking that’s the problem. It’s the pain from those early days of breastfeeding. Medela thought of that with these soothing and cooling nursing pads. They are contoured and designed to cover even bigger breasts.

You can reuse them up to 24 hours after opening, so while only 4 pairs come in a pack, you should have enough to get the relief you need. If you’re always in so much pain from breastfeeding that you want to use these, you should contact your breastfeeding coach to see if you can get a better latch. You’ll feel better, I promise.

I remember when my eldest was born, and my nipples were so sore. I had a nipple cream, but I would have loved to have these patches for fast relief when I did get that odd moment of sleep.

One word of advice here is to be sure you clean off your breasts after wearing them before you start nursing!

8. M&Y Organic Bamboo: Best no show nursing pads that you can use again and again!

M&Y kind of tackles all the concerns you have about your boobs when breastfeeding. It handles leaking, sore nipples, and offers a no show feature so you won’t feel like everyone knows you’re wearing them. They come in medium or large but not small, though, so these might not be your best option if you have smaller breasts.

For a really great price, you get 14 pads, a laundry bag, a gift bag, and an eBook. Lots of great extras here plus they offer a lifetime quality warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee, something that my friend Tamara said she didn’t need. “I was really skeptical about reusable nursing pads, but the organic bamboo was comfortable and easy to wear, and these lived up to everything they said they would,” she told me.

Additionally, you can use nipple creams with them without problems, so these are a good option for environmentally friendly moms who want the best of everything in one nursing pad.

9. LilyPadz: Silicone breast pads for stress-free summer fun!

My lovely friend Summer lives on Clearwater Beach in Florida. True to her name, she loves summer. She was born up north in the middle of a snowstorm, so her parents thought the irony was hilarious. Eventually, they moved to Florida, and Summer has never left since.

Now with her kids a bit bigger, she told me that LilyPadz were her favorite breast pads. They’re made from silicone, and while you only get one pair that costs a bit more, they are discreet, comfortable, and prevent leaks.

“Best thing I ever got. I’m always wearing those strappy tanks because it’s so hot, and I couldn’t have lived without these while I was in my early days of nursing my kids. These are amazing, and I fully recommend them. They’re the only breast pads you’ll ever need,” Summer said.

Price is a bit high, but you don’t have to wash them, wear them without a bra when you sleep, wear spaghetti straps or even no straps, and go swimming with them while they prevent leaks and keep your clothes dry. Sweet!

10. Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads: Best breast pads for cracked nipples!

I wanted to give one more option for mamas with sore nipples. These are the best cooling nursing pads, according to my friend Jasmine. “Oliver was so aggressive that every time he nursed, I was in pain. I wanted to give up, but my lactation consultant told me about the Lansinoh Soothies, and these saved me. They soothed and healed my sore nipples, and I didn’t have to give up on breastfeeding,” she said.

They can be reused for up to 72 hours, and they protect from bra friction while giving you a cooling, soothing sensation. They’re vegan too, and if you want more cooling relief, you can put them in the fridge.

FAQs About the Best Breast Pads

And yes, I’ve received lots of questions about the best nursing pads, which prompted me to write about them. You ask, I answer!

Are nursing pads really necessary?

Well, that depends. Do you WANT to leak all over the place? If you don’t, then yes, they are. But as I said, you won’t be using them for a long time. You can use them again for another baby as you grow your family. If you’re fortunate, you won’t leak at all, but most of the time, you will experience some leakage.

You might think, “Well, fine. I’ll just stay at home. I don’t care if I leak there.” Oh, yes, you do. Because your bed, sofas, and every other soft surface in the house will get leaked on, and everything will smell like sour milk 😣 .Just get them.

When to start wearing them?

I packed the ones I got in my hospital bag, and if I were you, I’d do the same. Put them in your diaper bag and keep them in your bra in the first few weeks after the baby comes along. Very few of you will need to wear them for a whole year.

How often should you change nursing pads?

When they are wet, you need to change them. Of course, this depends on the kind you’re using. The reusable, washable type will feel wet faster while most disposables tend to be absorbent. And the Curve ones you can get at Target can absorb for hours on end, so if you’re back at work, those might be a better option.

How many nursing pads do I need a day?

Again, it depends on how much you’re leaking. I think having anywhere from 8 to 12 breast pads is ideal because it gives you time to wash them. If you go with silicone, you only need one pair, and you don’t have to wash them, so that’s a good option too. The boxes of disposables usually have enough, but if your leakage is heavy, you may need to keep buying boxes or look for a more absorbent one.

What is the best fabric for nursing pads?

Experts tend to recommend organic bamboo. It’s very soft and absorbent, plus it is gentle on all skin types.

How to clean nursing pads?

If you have washable nursing pads, each brand has special instructions for washing them. I think it’s a great idea to choose the ones that come with a laundry bag though you can always use any washing bag designed for delicates if the brand you buy doesn’t include one.

Think about the detergent you use too. You want something that won’t irritate your sensitive breasts.

Final thoughts…

If I had to do this all again, I’d choose the BabyBliss option for the best reusable nursing pad and Medela’s Safe & Dry for something disposable. But really, this is all up to you. Make sure you choose for your comfort, and if you get something as a gift, don’t assume you’ll love it. Maybe you will, but now you know you have other options, so if someone gives you disposable nursing pads and you want reusable ones, you can find the right one.

And please don’t forget to clean your breasts before nursing! Just wipe them with a baby wipe to make sure, so you don’t have any trouble. 😀