3 Best Ways To Use Of Breast Pads And Tips To Choose Them

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How to use breast pads postpartum? Also called nursing pads, they are placed inside the bras to absorb leaking milk. It is usual for mothers to experience milk leakage as a let-down reflex between feedings when their nipples rub against clothing, during sexual intercourse, or when their baby cries. It is common in the first few weeks after delivery, when the baby is being weaned, or when the body adjusts to the reduced need for breast milk upon formula feeding.

Milk leakage is a normal sign of the let-down reflex. It is common in the first few weeks after childbirth, when you wean the baby, or when you become engorged if reducing breast feeds. It happens because the body takes some time to adjust to breast milk production as per the reduced need.

Breast pads help prevent dampness from ruining garments and causing skin discomfort, and certain breast pads may even offer additional support for the breasts. They may also serve as a soft cushion between the bra and the sore nipples caused by breastfeeding.

Read on to learn about the many types of breast pads, their benefits, and how to use them properly.

Different Types Of Nursing Pads

The following are the different types of nursing pads:

  1. Disposable nursing pads: The disposable nursing pads are to be worn once and then discarded. They are available in various sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. They may be a little expensive over time.
  1. Reusable nursing pads: They are more cost-efficient as they can be used repeatedly. They are also environmental-friendly. 
  1. Silicone pads: They are non-absorbent and instead put mild pressure on the breasts to prevent leakage. They are made of sticky material and get gently adhered to the breast. They can be used along with a bra or without it. They are useful in activities such as swimming or under certain types of clothes.
  1. Homemade pads: These are made at home by cutting disposable diapers or sanitary pads. Some women may also use handkerchiefs or cotton material by folding them and placing them on breasts or cutting them in circular shapes, stitching layers of them together, and putting them over breasts. Homemade pads give you the flexibility to choose the type of material you use. 

You may also encounter hydrogel pads for breasts in the market. They are cooled in a refrigerator and then used to provide relief from cracked or sore nipples. These are not useful for leaking breasts.

How To Use Breast Pads? 

You may observe the following steps to use breast pads efficiently. 

1. Placing the breast pads

  • Wear the bra before placing the bra pads.
  • Gently slide the pad on the nipple in a way that the entire nipple gets covered.
  • You may apply nipple cream or lanolin on the sore nipple before putting the bra on if you feel mild irritation.
  • Pads can be used with both regular and nursing bras.
  • If the pads move out of position later during the day, position them correctly or change the pads if they feel full.

2. Removing the breast pads

  • Take off the bra and gently peel the pads if they are stuck to your breasts to avoid skin irritation.
  • Dampen the pads with water if they are stuck to the breast.
  • Dry milk and moisture can be a breeding ground for fungal infections or thrush (1). Therefore, clean your breasts and nipples with a clean cloth or mild soap and warm water before placing a new pad.

3. Changing the breast pads

  • You must change your breast pads whenever they feel too damp.
  • Disposable pads should be disposed of after each use.
  • Homemade and reusable pads should be soaked in warm soapy water and washed gently with hands.
  • Silicone pads are reusable a certain number of times. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and usability limit. 

How To Choose The Right Breast Pad? 

You should keep the following points in mind when choosing a breast pad for yourself (2) (3).

  • Consider your needs before deciding on which breast pads to buy.
  • Think of how many months you intend to breastfeed, your budget, and whether you will express breast milk or breastfeed.
  • If you plan to breastfeed the baby for over six months, it is suggested that you buy reusable breast pads as they will be cheaper and eco-friendly.
  • If you are on a budget and have crossed the initial phase of heavy leakage, you may consider using homemade breast pads.
  • Choose a breast pad with cotton or fabric liner or a liner made from any other absorbent material. Do not buy breast pads with plastic liners since they will not absorb leakage.
  • Avoid using toilet paper or facial tissue as breast pads. They dampen easily and fall apart.
  • If you are still experiencing leakage, you may consider using a larger breast pad.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you notice any lumps, hardness, pain, or bleeding from your breasts since it may indicate a clogged duct or an infection called mastitis

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I stop my nipples from sticking to my breast pads?

Promptly changing the nursing pads as soon as they get wet is the best way to prevent them from sticking to your breasts. You may also try wearing breast shells between feeding sessions if you have cracked or sore nipples. It prevents the nipples from sticking to nursing pads, which otherwise can worsen the irritation.

2. What happens if you don’t change your breast pads?

Wearing a wet breast pad for long can irritate the soft skin around the nipples and cause nipple bruising (nipple fissure). Broken skin can create an entrance for bacteria that can cause infections, such as thrush and mastitis.

How to use breast pads is a common query most new mothers have. Breast pads can be placed inside bras to absorb leaking breast milk. It is normal for nursing mothers to have let down reflex and milk leakage if the nipples are rubbed on clothes or when the baby cries. Sometimes long gaps between feedings due to working hours could also lead to milk leakage. Gently remove the pad to avoid skin irritation and dampen it before removing it if it is stuck on the skin. Disposable and reusable nursing pads are available in the market. You may also make DIY nursing pads at home.

Key Pointers

  • The first step to using a breast pad is to choose the right type.
  • This may depend on your need, budget, breastfeeding duration, and comfort level.
  • You may use a nipple cream or lotion to avoid any irritation.
  • Wear your bra and follow the instructions for putting on and taking off the breast pad.


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Mindy Cockeram

Mindy Cockeram is a Childbirth and Breastfeeding Educator currently residing in Southern California, where she teaches at a non-profit hospital. Her career began after the birth of her second child when she changed career direction and trained as an antenatal teacher with the National Childbirth Trust in London, England. She taught childbirth classes for both the Wimbledon & Wandsworth Branch... more

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. She also holds a certificate in lactation counselling from iNational Health... more