Taking a Look at Disposable Breast Pads

It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, but when my son was first born, and even in the days leading up to his birth, I had leaky boobs. Even now, with Finn sleeping eleven or so hours a night, going to bed without some sort of protection can be hazardous, so I’ve taken it upon myself to look into as many types of breast pads as possible. There are so many varieties on the market, and most of them claim to do the same thing, so I was curious how the various brands compared. I’ve tried out seven different brands, not including the day and night version from the same company, and I’ll go over what I liked and didn’t like in each one.

(I should note that I didn’t consider washable breast pads for the same reason that I didn’t consider cloth diapers. Laundry in our house doesn’t always get done. It’s just not a feasible thing. When you have both a chronic illness and a baby, sometimes you need to pick the convenient option, and this was one of those times.)

So, what was I looking for in a breast pad? I wanted something that:

-Absorbed well;
-Was discreet;
-Stayed in place;
-Was comfortable and
-Didn’t irritate my skin.

Would I be able to find something that ticked all the boxes? Let’s find out.

First up, Philips Avent Day Pads.

 

They’re wrapped individually, and are easy to get out of the package because of the cross-over slit. If I needed to fiddle with them one-handed, it wasn’t a problem in the slightest. These pads have one adhesive strip, and stay in place fairly well, even if you use them through more than one feeding. I did find, however, that the inner material got bunched up if you pushed them down and pulled them up repeatedly. They also required careful placement in order not to be seen if you were using them with a soft cup bra. They were fairly soft on my skin, didn’t cause irritation, and absorbed a lot of liquid when I needed them to, so that was a bonus. The also provided ample coverage, so they will work for most breast sizes.

Individually wrapped, with an easy open, cross-over flap.

Individually wrapped, with an easy open, cross-over flap.

Outside

Outside

Inside, featuring leak guard ripples.

Inside, featuring leak guard ripples.

These are a buy if:

-You need something with structure
-Most of your bras have molded cups
-You need more coverage

The Philips Avent Night Pads are the same basic idea, with a few alterations. There are two adhesive strips, which keeps them in place much better, especially if you use the same pair through multiple feedings. They are supposed to be more absorptive, but I didn’t notice a difference, although they do have added leak guard rippled on the inside. Other than that, they are exactly the same in terms of feel and performance.

The same nifty packaging as the day pads, but with moons instead of suns.

The same nifty packaging as the day pads, but with moons instead of suns.

Outside, with two adhesive strips.

Outside, with two adhesive strips.

Inside, with a double row of leak guards.

Inside, with a double row of leak guards.

These are a buy if:

-You need structure
-You need better adhesion
-Most of your bras have molded cups
-You need more coverage

I tried the pads from Johnson’s after getting a sample set from the hospital. These guys have a lot of structure, and hold their shape well. They have a nipple form on the outside, so they are good for wearing under form-fitting clothing… but only if you have a smaller bust. I found that the pad itself didn’t have a lot of surface area, so if I was wearing a soft cup bar, it tended to look like I had extra large nipples. This wasn’t  bad, but it wasn’t the greatest. The small surface area made them less than ideal for sleep, as well. I did find them to be very soft and comfortable to wear, and they absorbed a lot of fluid if I needed them to. I would probably buy them again if I needed something really natural looking for a special occasion, but they didn’t really meet my every day needs. Also, with a lack of individual packaging, they just weren’t right for on the go.

The nipple shape of the Johnson's pad.

The nipple shape of the Johnson’s pad.

An inner indent meant no chaffing, even on high sensitivity days.

An inner indent meant no chaffing, even on high sensitivity days.

These are a buy if:

-You have a smaller bust
-You need a lot of structure
-You wear mostly soft cup bras

Medela makes some really great pumping gear, so I figured I would love their breast pads. I was wrong. The first thing I noticed was how noisy they were, even then I was wearing them. If I was moving around a lot, there was a definite crinkle in my chest area. They were, however, surprisingly no-show, probably due in part to the pleat at the bottom of the pad. It gave them a nice shape without a lot of added bulk. They were able to absorb a ton of liquid, but I didn’t find them overly soft, they didn’t stay in place well due to a lack-lustre adhesive strip, and if I chose to leave them alone through multiple feedings, they didn’t keep their shape. These were not one that I considered going back to for any reason. (Note: The pads being shown on the website are very different from the ones I had. I’m hoping these are a newer model, and if I could find them, I would give them a shot.)

Once again, individually wrapped.

Once again, individually wrapped.

A bottom pleat made for minimal show through, no matter the bra, but you could hear them with the slightest movement.

A bottom pleat made for minimal show through, no matter the bra, but you could hear them with the slightest movement.

Medela i

The Ameda pads that I tried intrigued me because of their unique, triangular shape. All the other pads that I had see and tried thus far has been round, so I wanted to see that kind of advantage another shape could have. First off, they’re perfect for bras with a smaller cup, but they lack an adhesive strip altogether, so they weren’t great for overnight use or for use with larger bras or multiple feedings. They are very comfortable and quiet to wear, and the absorbency was up there with all the larger pads I tried. They also maintained their shape well, but tended to get twisted around in larger bras. They come wrapped in sets of two instead of as singles, which cuts back on the amount of garbage, so that was nice.

Ameda i

Packaged in pairs!

Packaged in pairs!

Slight nipple contouring, but not so pronounced as with the Johnson's.

Slight nipple contouring, but not so pronounced as with the Johnson’s.

These are a buy if:

-You wear bras with smaller cups
-You have a smaller bust
-You’re looking for something with no adhesive

Up&Up are the Target house brand, and for the price, I was surprised with the quality. The adhesive strip is really big, but wasn’t as sticky as I would have liked. The pad itself covers a lot of area, so it’s great for larger busts and bigger bras, but tends to peak out of smaller cup bras. They’re soft, quiet, and non irritating, but they claim to have a “no leak backing”. In theory, this is great, but I found that they didn’t breath very well, so I didn’t use them for over night wear. If I did, my boobs felt clammy in the morning, and I needed to let them breathe for a while afterwards. absorbency was good, however, and I really think the plasticky backing was overkill. (I forgot to get photos of these before I ran out).

These are a buy if:

-You need performance on a budget
-You have a larger bust
-You’re looking for occasional wear, and don’t need pads overnight

My favourite pads, by far, are the ones by Lansinoh. They are the softest of all the ones I tried, and are easy to hide no matter what kind of bra or top I’m wearing. They are the only pad I tried that wasn’t specifically a night pad that has two adhesive strips, so the pads stay in place really well. They also hold a ton of moisture. I don’t know what’s in them, but it absorbs a lot. The only downfall of the material is that it can start feeling a tad squishy if you leak a lot all at once. These were the best all around pad, and the ones that I keep on going back to.

Easy open, individual packaging.

Easy open, individual packaging.

Double adhesive strips to keep the pads in place.

Double adhesive strips to keep the pads in place.

Lansinoh i

These are a buy if:

-You need sometime for both day and night wear
-You have sensitive skin
-You need something to reliably stay in place

The last one I tried is Parent’s Choice, the Walmart house brand. These weren’t bad, but I found that I liked the Target brand better. These were a little smaller on surface area, and unlike the Target ones, were not individually packaged. They did have the advantage of not having the plasticky backing, but the smaller surface area was a bigger detriment in my mind. Softness and absorbency was fine, but they did tend to bunch with extended wear. (I forgot to get photos of these before I ran out).

Parents Choice i Parents Choice o

These are a buy if:

-You’re looking for a pad for a smaller bust
-You’re on a budget

For “bust size” reference, all of my nursing and maternity bras are 36 D-DD, so I’m a little on the larger side. I also have fairly sizeable nipples, so I like some coverage. I should also note that since Finn has started solids, I’m not having as much leakage. That doesn’t mean that I can go pad free. Every time I try, my boobs decide to get milk every where.

The Lansinoh were my clear winners (did I mention each box comes with breast milk storage bags?), but the only ones I would hesitate to buy again are the pads by Medela, which was a big surprise. I didn’t really experience any irritation with any of the brands, unless you count waking up feeling like I had slept in a plastic bag after wearing the Up & Up pads all night, although I don’t have overly sensitive boobs or nipples. There is definitely something out there for everyone and, more importantly, every boob. Happy feeding!

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Getting Teeth and Starting Solid Food

Shawn and I took Finn on his fist vacation (and plane ride) to visit Shawn’s parents last week, and that was when Finn decided to start teething in earnest. He’s been getting, shall we say, chewy, for a while now, but it we really noticed it starting to cause him discomfort last week. Naturally, it was going to happen when we were away and things were all sorts of out of whack (more on that in another post).

Finn has liked putting stuff in his mouth ever since he figured out that he can get his hands to his face all on his own, but now it’s all about what he can get in there and chomp on. Some times, he’s perfectly all right, but there are moments when I know his mouth is causing him some distress, and both of us really wish that there was more we could do for the little guy.

He has teething toys, rubber toys, wash clothes that we soak in cold water. His Sophie the Giraffe toy has been gummed so much that the colour is starting to come off her feet. My dearest wish is that the teeth that are trying to make their appearance do so in a timely manner and don’t decide to go up and down a few times first. That would be awful. My wisdom teeth did that, and it was torment for me as an adult. I can only imagine what that must feel like for a nearly-six-month-old baby.

Luckily, his sleep hasn’t really been affected all that much. He still goes down for 7-8 hours at a time, gets up to breast feed, and then goes back to bed for another 2.5-4 hours. True, it’s not the 11 hours we were getting for a while, but that was extraordinary, and I’m happy with what we have. Last night, though, we did get 12.5 hours straight. Part of me wants to attribute it to the fact that we started feeding solid food a few days ago, even though I know it’s a coincidence. It’s more likely due to the fact that he’s still exhausted from our trip to Langley, and being back in your own bed feels amaze-balls.

I was planning, initially, to go right up to the six month mark with breast feeding (that would have been July 21, for anyone who has lost track). Finn has been showing a lot of interest in food for a while now, and he decided all on his own while we were on vacation that he should try and drink water from a cup. So be it. He drank water from a cup, and took water from an adult size spoon no problem, so the timeline moved forward a little. Babies tend to work on their own schedules.

When we got home, Finn had his first taste of rice cereal. To say he was pleased would be an understatement. He even tried to take the spoon from me and feed himself. That just made a mess, but it was a definite “A” for effort. He now has a training sippy cup, from which he will only have water to protect his unsprouted teeth, and two kinds of cereal. Tomorrow, we start veggies. I can say that he likes rice over oatmeal so far, but that could just be the texture aspect. The rice cereal is much more smooth, and probably feels more familiar on his palette.

Now, I’ve had some people ask why I didn’t start solids sooner. You can start as early as four months now, or so I’ve been told. Regardless of that, it’s never something that I was going to do. I just didn’t see the point in starting solids at such a young age when he was able to get all his nutrients from breast milk. he still loves to nurse, and has breast milk after his morning and evening cereal. Not only that, but until babies are able to do a fairly decent job of sitting on their own, they’re not going to do a great job of swallowing, so what’s the point in rushing? I didn’t want Finn to feel the need to wean himself early because I wanted him on solid food. I don’t mind breast feeding at all, so going EBF for the first six months was never an issue for me. (And hey, standard disclaimer: if you do solids earlier, great! I hope it’s going well! It’s just not what was right for us.)

So, at six months (or nearly six months), Finn:

  • sleeps through the night
  • sits on his own, with only minimal balance issues
  • can stand, needing only his hands held for  balance
  • drinks water from a sippy cup on his own and an adult cup with help
  • really wants to feed himself, but lets me do it (while holding his own spoon)
  • weighs more and is taller than I was at age one
  • is getting much more free with his laughter (though not as free as he is with his smiles)

He still amazes us both, every single day. Being a parent, while it’s not for everyone, is the best job I’ve ever had. Cliche? Yes. Truth? Absolutely.

On Breast Feeding

Let me start off by saying I have spectacular nipples. They are a great shape and a nice size, and I’ve always known they would be perfect for breast feeding. I suppose that means that I’ve always wanted to beast feed, which is true. It just made sense to me. Why give your baby man made crap when they could be eating what nature intended?

(Yes, I am all about “breast is best”, because it is. I also know for a fact that anyone can breast feed. Some people just have a harder time getting established. However, I want anyone reading this to know that I do not look down on those who exclusively formula feed or who choose to supplement. Different things work for different families and you need to do what works for you.)

The thought never crossed my mind, not once, that I would have any issues getting feeding established with my son. I mean, I had been leaking colostrum for months, so my supply was going to be good, and I had these perfect nipples. What could go wrong? After needing a c-section to get him out, I’m so glad that I was right.

Once I got our first post partum nurse to show us both now to get a really good latch, we were golden. I also had to realize that Finn was incredibly impatient, and expressing a little bit on to my nipple before offering to him let him know that yes, there was food to be had. Otherwise, he would pull off and get disgruntled after attempting to eat for all of five seconds. This little trick became invaluable in the first week with him.

He lost just under 9% of his body weight after birth and was a little slow about gaining it back. This was probably because my true milk didn’t come in full force until he was six days old. It had started to change over, but I didn’t get the rock hard, oh-my-god-am-I-engorged boobs until then. One of my nurses suggested that I try pumping to get my milk in faster (no luck), and possibly feeding him some formula to make sure he was getting enough. I refused.

That may sound horrible to some people. Why would I refuse to do something that could benefit my child? What if he wasn’t getting enough? Well, let me tell you, the amount of pee he was generating was proof positive that he was getting enough to eat. He peed all the time, especially when his diaper was off. His jaundice (yup, he had a good bout of preemie jaundice) wasn’t getting any worse, and I was determined to do things the way I wanted. My birth went way off course, so this was going to go as planned, dammit!

20140402-091714.jpg

As you can see from the above photo, he latched well and ate like a champ. Sure, he looked like a banana for a while, but as soon as my true mill came in, there were no more issues. He had one period where he gained almost a pound in five days!

My problem came, and and still comes, with pumping. For some reason, it didn’t matter now or when pumped, I could barely get anything at all. Manual, electric… It didn’t seem to make a difference, and I was starting to get extremely stressed about it. If I didn’t manage to pump enough to save, Finn would need to have formula in addition to breast milk when Shawn and if needed to leave him. I know, that’s not the end of the world but it’s definitely not something I wanted to do.

I thought I was doing something wrong. Surely, it wasn’t meant to be this difficult. It didn’t matter what I tried, however: after a hot shower, first thing in the morning, nothing worked. Luckily, one of the post partum feeding experts that works with my mum told her that some women just can’t pump efficiently. It has to do with their let down reflex. My milk will not let down unless Finn is actually eating. Looking at a picture of him doesn’t work. Listening to him fuss doesn’t work. He needs to be physically at my breast.

I’ve come up with a plan to deal with this. Usually, when he’s eating off one side, the other side will leak. Instead of letting it go to waste in a breast pad, I’ve starting letting it drip into a storage container. I’ve gotten up to an ounce from dripping alone! Then, as soon as I can after he’s finished, I manually express whatever I can. It has to be right after he’s eaten, or I don’t get a thing. Sometimes I end up with three or so ounces after a day, sometimes just one, but it’s taken a lot of the pressure off that I was feeling while trying to use a breast pump. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t give up entirely.

I know some people hate breast feeding, or at the very least don’t enjoy it at all. For me, it’s something that makes me feel accomplished. I call Finn Tiny Bacon because he likes to eat so much, and being such a direct part of his diet feels really good. It’s going to be nothing but breast milk until six months for our little guy, and if things go as planned, we’re going to keep it up until he’s at least a year. He’s doing do well with it, I don’t see any reason to change what we’ve got going on.

Hey, he’s 14.6 pounds at ten weeks. Breast is definitely best in this instance :-)>