Best Nursing Pads
Curve by Cache Coeur became our favorite nursing pads the moment we put them on; they have many perks that other brands do not offer. They are thicker than average, however, they do not feel bulky while you are wearing them. Their shape and contour help them to lay seamlessly under a bra. There is even a small indentation for the nipple so you do not experience any points of pressure. The antibacterial mesh lining is very breathable and wicks away moisture from your skin helping you feel dry and fresh. The super-absorbent core layer locks away all leaks for up to 9 hours in the daytime version. We love that one pair can last so long, so you don't have to worry about changing out your pads as often, or bringing along extras when you are out and about. Curve pads come in 3 different sizes with varying levels of absorbency to suit your needs. They are machine washable, and Cache Coeur recommends using a washing net to keep them in tip-top condition.
Some users noted that the contour of the pads may not be perfect for every breast shape, which may allow them to shift around during wear, or not be as comfortable. However, we appreciate that they have a contour with a seam. Curve pads are also some of the most expensive on the market and cost more than 2x as much as the next in line. However, we feel that the cost is justified, as one pair will last you all day, during which time you may use 3-4 pairs of a different brand. You can get away with purchasing fewer pads, as long as you are ok with frequent laundering. Overall, we love the Curve pads. They are what we would use ourselves, and we highly recommend them to any nursing mother.
Lansinoh Stay Dry is our favorite disposable option. The soft material has a honeycomb texture that adds an element of cushion to the side that lays against your skin. The absorbent core lasted longer than other disposables we tested, and even when the pads were chock full of leaked breastmilk, we did not experience any leaks. The large size offers good coverage and catches liquids even if the pad shifts slightly during wear. The inner surface wicks away moisture from the skin and does not stick to sore nipples or leave any fuzz behind. The outer surface has a waterproof lining to keep your clothes dry. Each pad is individually wrapped and we think they are super handy to stash in your diaper bag in case you need one while on the go.
We are a bit disappointed by the adhesive strips. There are two small rectangles on either side of the pad meant to stick to your clothes and hold the whole thing in place. We found that the stickiness is not very strong, and doesn't last as long as we would like. If you wear these to bed and move around during the night, the adhesive has a tendency to stick to itself and crumple inside your bra. While they are contoured, the shape of the Stay Dry pads does not form very well to the breast and may show through clothes. Despite these drawbacks, Lansinoh pads are our top choice of the disposables we tested. Even if you choose to use washable pads, we recommended having a few of these around as backups, as they can come in handy if you ever run out.
BabyBliss Bamboo pads are made from a blend of cotton and bamboo terrycloth fabric on the inside and have a microfiber core with a water-resistant polyester outer. They have a deep contour that lays flush against your skin and helps the pad stay put during wear. We did not experience any leaks or sogginess while wearing the BabyBliss pads. They come with a mesh wash bag and are machine washable, but BabyBliss recommends using the cool setting on both washer and dryer. There are three different sizes available so you can choose based on your breast size and typical leakage amount. Many users report that these Bamboo pads are highly durable, and they come in a large pack, so you may never have to repurchase.
Unfortunately, the terry cloth texture of the inner lining is not as soft as we would like. For those with sensitive or cracked nipples, the material can feel a bit abrasive. It may be more likely to stick to the skin (ouch!) than a smoother texture. In order to create the round contoured shape of the pads, there is a seam in both the outer and inner layers. The manufacturer was thoughtful enough to place the seams on opposite sides of the pad, but they are still noticeable when wearing and may cause some discomfort. If you do not have issues with sensitivity and are looking for a durable, and budget-friendly product, the BabyBliss Bamboo is a good choice.
Bamboobies washable nursing pads have been a longtime favorite for many moms. During testing, our breastfeeding mom said that these are so comfortable that she couldn't tell where the pad started and stopped. The ultra-thin liners are indiscernible under clothing, and the bamboo velour inner lining is gentle on sensitive nipples. It also has good wicking properties to keep you from feeling soggy. We tested both the day version and the blue circular night pads. We found that the night version is a bit bulkier, but has much better absorbency, and maybe good for mommas who leak more heavily.
On that note, some moms may find Bamboobies to be too thin, and not absorbent enough for their needs. There is no contour to the fabric, but we appreciate that there are no seams either. Some users say that the heart shape helps them form more readily to the shape of your breast, while others say that the irregular shape made it a bit hard to correctly position the pad. However, we have very few complaints when it comes to Bamboobies, and we love them for their offer of discreet protection.
Ameda ComfortGel pads are ideal for soothing nipples that are sore and chapped from breastfeeding. The smooth gel surface prevents further agitation from chaffing and may offer a cooling effect that eases discomfort. Unlike many other gel pads, these have tiny holes in the center that allow some airflow. This balanced out the moist environment with an element of breathability. Many moms store their pads in the refrigerator or freezer to amp up the cooling sensation. The ComfortGels are reusable for up to 6 days when properly cared for, allowing you to get the most out of every pair.
When using and reusing these gel pads, it is imperative that you follow cleaning instructions in order to prevent potential infections. We also noticed that the circumference gets smaller after each use, and provides less coverage, so they may not be usable for the full 6 days. But if you are looking for some relief from the soreness that can come with newborn breastfeeding, the Ameda ComfortGel breast pads may be just what you need.
Mama Designs Bamboo are reusable breast pads with two layers of bamboo fleece with a flexible laminate backing in the middle to prevent leaks. The material is ultra-soft and maintains the cushy texture after multiple washes. The pads hold an impressive amount of liquid and evenly distribute it over time so there are no wet spots. We especially like that the fleece makes them some of the best-wicking pads in the group. Even without being pre-contoured, the fabric molds to your breast shape and stays put throughout the day. The pack comes with both day and night versions, which are the same materials and thickness but have different circumferences.
Our biggest gripe with these pads is that they shed a lot. Even after being washed multiple times, our tester had a bunch of leftover fuzzies on her nipple whenever it was time to nurse. While this may not be a big deal to some, it was enough to deter our tester from using them more than was necessary. They also tend to warp into more of an oval shape after washing, but this does not affect the performance of the pads overall. Otherwise, we like the slim fit and cozy material of the Mama Designs and think that these may be good for moms with extra sensitive skin.
Kindred Bravely Organic are nursing pads with three layers that have wicking, absorbing, and waterproofing properties. They are some of the largest reusable pads we tested and may be good for larger busted moms who need extra coverage. We feel that the pads stay put well and move with your body, even over nighttime use. We like that they are machine washable, but would recommend investing in a mesh wash bag so you don't lose anything.
These pads are much less contoured than others. Some moms like that as they keep down the "pointiness", but some feel that it is not deep enough to prevent creasing around the edges. Even with the minimal contour, there is still a seam straight through the middle of the pad that could cause discomfort. The terry cloth is not as soft as other fabrics and it tends to pill after multiple washes. Our tester noted that when the pad is full, it does not wick very well, and you may be left feeling soggy. In the end, we found that these pads are very similar to other pads in our review, but are more expensive and do not perform quite as well. If you like the design, we recommending taking a look at BabyBliss Bamboo pads instead.
Medela Disposable pads are another popular choice for many moms. They are reliably absorbent and come individually wrapped to ensure they stay sanitary until opened. They are lightly contoured and have two adhesive strips on the backside to fix the pad to your bra. The material on the inside and out help to actively pull moisture away from the skin, so you never feel soggy or damp.
They are a bit smaller than Lansinoh pads and much thicker in the center, so they may create more of a bulge under your shirt. The adhesive on the backside is not very strong, and we found that if the pad gets too wet, it loses the stickiness altogether. Although we did not experience any leaks during testing, these pads seem to reach their maximum absorbency sooner than some others. Medela pads are definitely capable, but a bit underwhelming. If you are looking for a top-performing disposable in the same price range, we believe Lansinoh is the better choice.
NuAngel nursing pads have multiple layers of soft cotton fabric. They are the only product we tested that is completely free of synthetic materials and would be a good option for those who only want natural materials close to themselves and baby. They are above average in terms of absorbency, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that they are highly breathable and do not leave you feeling soggy after a few hours. Although there is no waterproofing layer, the thickness of the pad distributes liquid evenly and reduces leaks and wet spots.
Our least favorite part about the NuAngel pads is the bulkiness. The multilayered cotton is not contoured and is not very flexible. The shape shows through most clothing and may feel a bit stiff while wearing. Our tester compared the feeling to that of stuffing your bra. Many users also mention that the pads do not wash well. They may shrink or become rough over time and tend to bunch up and wrinkle when they come out of the dryer. If you don't mind the potential bulk, and prefer natural materials over synthetic, the NuAngel breast pads are a good choice.
Eco by Naty Bamboo nursing pads boasts that they keep all plastic off the skin. Many parts of the pad are biodegradable, although as a whole, it is not. We appreciate their efforts to blend the convenience of disposable pads with the health and eco-benefits of reusable ones. However, that is where the advantages end.
We found these to be the worst-performing breast pads of the group by a long shot. When faced with the same amount of liquid as other options, the Naty pads became sopping wet. During use, our tester had to change these out much more frequently than other brands, or risk the milk soaking all the way through and reaching her bra. When wet, the adhesive strip on the back would lose all stickiness, and they did not provide any sort of breathability or wicking properties. While we appreciate the good intentions, we cannot get behind a product that does not serve its intended purpose. If you are very concerned about plastic use, we suggest going with a top-performing reusable option.
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been researching and testing a wide variety of baby products for nearly 10 years, gather experience and knowledge from parents, professional caregivers, and our founder and pediatrician Juliet Spurrier. Leading this nursing pad review is Senior Review Editor, Abriah Wofford. With 5 years of baby gear testing under her belt, and many years of professional childcare experience, Abriah has more than enough context to help make informed decisions on the best products. To augment our research and testing with some hands-on use, Justice Wofford assesses comfort, absorbency, and overall ease of use while breastfeeding her 1-month-old infant.
Analysis and Test Results
Nursing pads might be a must-have item for your breastfeeding days depending on your milk production. They catch potential leaks, saving you from a soaked bra and embarrassing wet spots. Let us help you find a set of pads that is reliable, comfortable, and fit within your budget.
When you use a pad while nursing, ideally it will disappear beneath your bra and you will forget it is there until you have to change it. While that goal may not be attainable all the time, some products come closer than others. Elements such as the texture of the fabric, the bulk of the material, and the contour of the pad all make a huge difference when in use. The Curve pads have a shape and structure similar to the padding you find inside a bra. They are easy to wear, and do not crumple, wrinkle, or have any awkwardly placed seams. We also loved the BabyBliss Bamboo for their deep contour that reduces gaps and wrinkles, although the terry cloth texture on the inside may not be as gentle as other options.
Lansinoh disposables have a very pliable construction and soft material, so even though the contour is not so deep, they still form to your shape well. The NuAngel cotton pads are some of the least comfortable to wear. The cotton fabric is soft, but the pads are bulky and a bit stiff, making them feel awkward when placed inside your bra.
The absorbency of a pad can vary depending on the thickness, material, and size. When thinking about what may be best for you, consider whether you are a heavy leaker or light. How frequently are you able to change out your pads? The most absorbent brands are usually larger and bulkier and may be overkill for some people. They do not fit under clothes as smoothly as lighter weight pads. The exception to this is the Curve pads, which boast a 9 hour wear time and are absorbent enough to catch and lock away all leaked milk. While they are thicker than average, they are perfectly molded to be nearly invisible under clothing. Bamboobies are some of the thinnest pads we tested. They are very comfortable to wear but are best for light leakers because they do not have a large capacity.
The majority of the time, disposable pads will out-absorb reusable options. This is because many of them contain SAP, which is the same material found in diapers that makes them so absorbent. However, we did not find this to be true when using Eco by Naty. They do not disclose if they use SAP in their nursing pads, however, they were the least absorbent product we tested, leaving mom feeling soggy much sooner than other brands.
Many moms choose to use a combination of reusable and disposable nursing pads. Disposables create more waste and can feel similar to wearing a diaper on your chest, and our tester preferred reusable pads when at home. However, the individually wrapped pads can be super convenient to keep in your diaper bag or purse while out and about.
No one likes feeling constantly soggy. Our favorite pads wick away moisture and leave you feeling fresh as a daisy. The Curve pads were one of the best reusable options in this metric, along with the Mama Designs Bamboo. Both felt only slightly damp when loaded to the max. Disposables also excel in this area. The SAP inside helps keep moisture in the pad and off the boob.
Eco by Naty Bamboo missed the mark on this one too. When loaded with the same amount of liquid as other products, Naty pads were sopping, while others merely felt damp. Kindred Bravely and BabyBliss were both average-performers in terms of wicking. The terry cloth loops create a slight buffer between the liquid and your skin, but they do not keep you as dry as some other fabrics might.
If you choose to breastfeed your newborn, you will need a few supplies to help you along the way. Nursing pads are something many moms consider essential, and having a set that fits well, prevents leaks, and is comfortable can make a world of difference. We used each product over a multi-week period and compared them side-by-side to find the ones that work well in different situations. If you are still not sure what is best for you, try out a few different brands before purchasing more of your favorites.
— Abriah Wofford