Leaking or spraying breasts are a natural, and often humorous, part of breastfeeding. Every woman will experience a bit of leaking during her breastfeeding days. Some daily, some rarely, some before they even give birth. Many women leak when they hear a baby cry, even if that baby isn't their own. Breast pads absorb the errant milk so you don't have to walk around with the tell-tale wet circles on your chest.
Breast pads are inserted into your nursing bra to absorb excess milk and keep your bra and clothes dry. They're available as either disposable or reusable cloth pads that you can machine wash and use repeatedly.
Disposable breast pads are convenient and no-fuss: use them and throw them away. They have a soft top layer which is gentle against your skin and an absorbent core draws moisture away from your skin and prevents embarrassing leaks or staining. A breathable outer layer allows air to circulate between your breast and the breast pad. Some disposable breast pads are simple flat pieces of cotton which may scrunch under your bra, making it obvious you are wearing a breast pad. Many disposable breast pads are contoured with a nipple indent, providing a close, almost invisible fit.
Reusable breast pads are usually cotton or wool. Most have cotton lining which is soft against your skin. The absorbent padding absorbs moisture and may draw it away from your skin and behind a leak-proof liner. Look for flat seams which won't irritate your tender nipples. Reusable pads are not as convenient as disposable pads, but they are machine washable and environmentally friendly.
No matter what kind of breast pad you choose, look for pads that allow air to circulate around your nipples. Some have a plastic-lining to protect your clothes, but they retain moisture which can irritate your nipples.
Always change your pads immediately after they get wet. Wet breast pads are a breeding ground for bacterial growth which can lead to a yeast infection and thrush for your baby. If the pad dries and sticks to your nipple, moisten it with warm water so that you don't remove any skin as you pull it away from your breast. Wash your nipples afterwards with warm water only to make sure they are clean and bacteria free for your next feeding.
If you don't mind the extra bulk, you can make your own breast pads by cutting four-inch circles from old cloth diapers. If you run out of breast pads, a folded cotton handkerchief tucked inside your bra will do the trick.
- They may not be environmentally friendly like cloth nursing pads, but I really liked my Johnson's Nursing Pads. They were very absorbent with a breathable cover so my nipples always felt dry and my clothes stayed dry. They were contoured so they fit nicely in my bra and weren't noticeable through my shirt. They were quiet, no plastic rustling like some I had tried. I sincerely tried to go the cloth route, but found these to be much nicer. Comfortable, absorbent, and invisible – everything you need in a nursing pad.