Everything you need to know about Nursing Pads
As an expectant mother, you have already been making many decisions on how you want to raise your baby. One of those decisions is whether or not to breastfeed. If you have decided that breastfeeding is for you, you will need to purchase nursing pads. For the first few days after your baby is born, you may be able to get by without them, but as your milk comes in you will need nursing pads.
What are Nursing Pads?
Nursing pads absorb milk that may leak between feedings. You wear them inside your bra to keep it dry and keep milk away from your clothing. They come in different styles, shapes, and sizes and can be disposable or reusable. No matter which style you choose to use, make sure they are contoured to fit snugly against your body. You may find nursing pads in the form of flat circles, but they will bunch when placed in your bra. Also, choose nursing pads that are soft and absorbent and that allow your breasts to breathe - avoid those with waterproof or plastic liners that can trap moisture against your skin.
Why do I need Nursing Pads?
When you choose to breastfeed, you need to be prepared for your breasts to leak milk in between feedings. It is also common for your milk to leak if you hear a baby crying or it is close to the time your baby would normally feed. Also, while your baby is nursing on one breast, the other will leak - this is because your let-down reflex happens in both breasts at the same time. It takes a little while for your milk to become regulated so expect to wear nursing pads for at least a few months.
As mentioned above, you don't want to trap moisture against your skin. It is important to keep your nipples as dry as possible to avoid irritation or yeast infections. That means that even when you are using breast pads, they need to be changed frequently when they are wet.
Disposable or Reusable?
There are beautiful associations when it comes to nursing - cuddling with your baby as you provide nourishment. And, while breastfeeding is a wonderful and rewarding experience, it does come with some unpleasant side effects like sore nipples (for a short time - it usually takes a few weeks for nipples to toughen up) and leaking breasts.
Nursing pads can help keep you comfortable and prevent embarrassing leaks from soaking through your clothing. They are available, like diapers, in disposable or reusable options. So which is the best option for you?
Disposable Nursing Pads
Disposable nursing pads are made of a thin absorbent material and come in different levels of absorbancies similar to sanitary napkins. You can purchase a box of disposable pads that contain anywhere from 50 to 200 or more. They usually have a sticky back to adhere them to your bra, which can impede breathability. When they get wet, simply throw them in the garbage and put in new ones.
Many disposable nursing pads, like disposable diapers, contain absorbent chemicals that you will be putting directly against your skin. They also lack proficient air circulation, which can lead to discomfort and trapped moisture. Breast infections thrive in moist environments, so if you are especially leaky, you will have to go through a lot of disposable pads, which is not only inconvenient, but also expensive.
Reusable Nursing Pads
Reusable nursing pads are cloth pads (some with a breathable leak-resistant layer) that fit into your bra similar to disposable pads. Because they are made of natural fibers, cloth nursing pads provide better air circulation, which is necessary to aid in the sore nipple healing process. Rather than disposing of these pads after use, they are easy to wash and dry - most can be washed easily with your baby's clothes, but you may prefer to wash them in a laundry bag to keep pairs together.
Not only will you be saving the environment by reusing your pads instead of throwing them in the garbage, but you will save money as well. The cost of a box of 60 disposable nursing pads is around $10. While the amount you will need can vary greatly, you will have to keep purchasing pads, which will add up. Washable nursing pads are much more economical. You can expect to need between 6 to 9 pairs of nursing pads, costing about $7 a pair.
And if you have more children in the future, you already have the nursing pads; they are designed to last!
What to look for in a reusable Nursing Pad
How many should you buy?
Generally, a breastfeeding mom will start out with six sets. This will allow you to have about one to two pairs in the wash, three pairs available throughout the day, and one spare pair in the diaper bag in case of emergencies. That being said, every woman is different. It all depends on how much you leak and how often you want to launder. (If you're cloth diapering your little one, you can throw them in with your diaper load every other day!) You may find you need more pairs in the beginning until your milk production regulates.
There are so many products on the market, so how are you going to determine what brand to go with?
There are four factors that you should consider before purchasing a reusable nursing pad. Make sure your nursing pads fit the following criteria:
First and foremost, these little pads will be like a second skin to you all day every day, so make sure they are comfortable! You will want to pick a pad that is super soft and doesn't stick to your nipples when they get wet. For maximum comfort, choose a nursing pad with a stay dry layer against your skin. This will wick the moisture away from your breast and into the core of the pad, which leaves you feeling dry even when your pad is saturated.
You will also want to make sure that your reusable nursing pads are very absorbent. The more absorbent they are, the longer you can go between changes. The longer you go between changes, the less you will have in the wash at one time. The less you have in the wash at one time, the less you have to buy. The less you have to buy, the more money you save - seems like a no-brainer!
Coverage is also an important factor to consider. You want to make sure that your nursing pad is large enough to cover a fair portion of your breast so that it doesn't bunch up inside your bra, which makes them less noticeable under your clothing.
Lastly, - and this seems obvious - be sure to choose a nursing pad that is contoured! Your breast is round, so why on earth would you buy a nursing pad that is flat? A contoured nursing pad will cup your breast like your bra does, and sit flush to your skin without any bunching or moving around. This results in no "peek-a-boo" moments.
We want to make sure that you have as positive an experience with your reusable nursing pads as you do with your baby's diapers. You will have enough surprises and stress with a brand new baby in your life without having to worry about your nursing pads!