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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