Regardless of how you’ve given birth, that postpartum phase is a very delicate one. The rush of emotions, the physical discomforts, the realization that you are now responsible for a tiny human being, and – lest we forget – the new sensations in your lady bits.
Bleeding post-birth is a normal part of your healing process. The placenta leaves a wound at the site where it was attached to your uterus. This is where the blood – known as lochia – is coming from.
Heavy bleeding should be expected in the first few days and, if still sore and swollen, the last thing you’d want is something uncomfortable in your mesh underwear.
This is where postpartum pads come into the picture. The postpartum period is bound to be a messy one, so preparing the right products to contain postpartum bleeding will make your life a thousand times more comfortable.
After all, the last thing you’d want after giving birth is to be scrubbing away soiled bed sheets or a stained sofa. Not a pretty picture, we know.
So, read on to learn all about what postpartum pads are, why and how many you’ll need, as well as all the different types available for you to choose from.
But before we get into all of that, here’s a quick overview of what we believe to be some of the best postpartum pads of today.
Best Postpartum Pads – a Quick Look at Our Top 7 Recommendations
- Always Maxi Overnight Feminine Pads with Wings
- Poise Incontinence Pads
- Always Xtra Protection Daily Feminine Panty Liners for Women
- Wegreeco Bamboo Reusable Cloth Sanitary Pads
- Natracare Organic Maternity Pads
- Depend Silhouette Incontinence Underwear for Women
- Spring Maternity Mesh Disposable Delivery Panty
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
So, What Exactly Are Postpartum Pads?
Postpartum pads are the product you’ll definitely need to contain the bleeding you’ll experience in the six weeks post-birth. They’re far from sexy, we know, but choosing the right type will save you loads on laundry-time.
Once born, your baby won’t be the only one in diapers. Doesn’t make sense? Let’s clarify.
Regardless of whether you’ve delivered vaginally or via c-section, all new moms experience postpartum bleeding. You won’t be wearing diapers per se, but to contain the heavy bleeding post-birth you will be using something very similar: postpartum pads.
Postpartum pads are sanitary towels, specially made to contain the bleeding post-birth which, as Healthline notes, can last anywhere from two to six weeks.
How long postpartum bleeding phases last differs from one woman to another, so there’s no way in telling how much yours will last beforehand – but expect it to last anywhere from two to six weeks.
Since the consistency and amount of bleeding changes as time goes by, you will need to stock up on different kinds of pads to see you through these forty days. During this time, tampons and menstrual cups cannot be used.
What Different Types Of Postpartum Pads Can I Choose From?
There are various types of postpartum pads available for you to choose from.
Let’s start with the biggest and work our way from there.
Adult diapers are great for the first few days when bleeding is at its heaviest.
There’s no worrying that you’ll leak, and they’re super easy to use. They’re also great if you intend on popping in an ice pack or padsicle to ease soreness in your lady bits.
Adult diapers are best if you’ve had a vaginal birth. They might not be as comfortable for moms who have just undergone a c-section due to pressure on the incision site.
If you’ve had a c-section and are unsure about using adult diapers, be sure to consult your doctor about this for professional advice.
Mesh Panties And Maternity Pads
We wouldn’t suggest wearing maternity pads without mesh panties. Whilst sufficiently large, maternity pads usually come without wings, and – as a result – are a bit more challenging to keep in place.
Leaking is much more possible with maternity pads; which is why disposable mesh underwear comes in handy.
Once soiled, simply chuck away.
The mesh panty and maternity pad option is best for c-section mommas, although they’re still widely used after a vaginal birth too.
Large Overnight Pads With Maximum Absorbency
These pads are great for when your bleeding is less heavy, but still too much for your regular pad to handle.
They might be intended for night-use, but it’s very probable you’ll be opting for this kind of pad both during the day and night in the second half of your first week postpartum.
They’re easy to use and not as bulky as maternity pads, making them far more comfortable.
Organic Postpartum Pads
Organic postpartum pads are great for moms with sensitive skin or those prone to allergic skin reactions when exposed to chemicals.
When everywhere’s sore, the last thing you’d need is an allergic reaction to add to the discomfort and pain.
Thankfully, there are now plenty of organic postpartum pads available on the market, so there’s no shortage of options for you to choose from.
Think of them as the perfect cross between regular postpartum pads and cloth postpartum pads.
Postpartum Cloth Pads
Postpartum cloth pads are the most environmentally friendly of the bunch. They would require a greater investment up front, but will save you money in the long term.
Their soft nature makes them ideal for moms who have experienced tearing and are now dealing with stitches. Since they’re chemical free, they’re also a great option if you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergic reactions.
Another upside of postpartum cloth pads is that you can continue using them for your regular period, well beyond the six-week mark.
Just like regular pads, cloth postpartum pads need to be changed regularly to avoid any infections. This means that you always have to keep up with the washing – a downside when considering how much laundry newborns generate.
Since they don’t have any adhesive, cloth postpartum pads do have a tendency to move around, so you need to be extra careful not to stain any surfaces you sit or lie on in the first few days.
If you’re used to wearing regular pads during your period, then you’re well aware of what normal pads do.
Unfortunately, and as we’ve already noted, you cannot use tampons or menstrual cups in the first six weeks post-birth, so regular pads are the way to go.
Normal pads help save you from stains when the bleeding lessens but is still present. They’re also easy to use and disposable.
However, they might not be the best choice for everyone out there. Make sure to check the ingredients list first if you’re prone to allergic reactions.
As with all pads, change regularly to prevent any infections and chafing.
Panty liners are comfortable and convenient, but just like regular pads, can lead to allergic reactions and chafing.
Oh, and nothing hurts more than a panty liner that moves around and attaches itself to skin instead of underwear!
If you plan on using one of these, be sure to shop around for a brand that has something suitable for your skin – and one that attaches best.
Panty liners come individually wrapped or in packages. Individually wrapped panty liners are better for use when on the go, while panty liners without wrapping are not very hygienic if left in a bag for long.
Will I Need Postpartum Pads?
Oh yes, you will!
Each woman is different, but a certain degree of bleeding post-birth should almost always be expected. You’d also want to be at your most comfortable – after all, you’re managing your own healing and taking care of a new baby, and that’s definitely not an easy feat!
Postpartum pads will protect you from accidents and help keep your underwear and pants clean.
Finding the right fit and material, as well as keeping the area clean helps you heal better and in a more comfortable way, keeping any potential infections at bay.
These little (or big) wonders help keep the stains away. You wouldn’t want to be making any messes on your clean sofa or fresh bed sheets, as now is not the time to add to your regular laundry work.
Some postpartum pad brands, as well as reusable cloth pads, help keep nasty odors away too. Sorry, but lochia smells anything but great!
When Should I Start Wearing Postpartum Pads?
You will find yourself putting on some sort of postpartum pad immediately after your first shower post-birth.
If you give birth in a hospital or birthing center, you will probably be supplied with heavy duty sanitary pads and mesh underpants.
When Can I Stop Wearing Postpartum Pads?
In the first six weeks post-birth, it’s not suggested to go without a pad, even if it appears that the lochia has stopped. The amount of bleeding varies, it could go down to almost none one day, and come back again the very next day.
You can stop wearing postpartum pads once you’re completely sure that your bleeding has stopped.
Still, we do suggest to always have a pad in your bag when out and about, just in case the unexpected happens. You’ll never know when your menstrual period will make an appearance again, so: better safe than sorry!
The Downsides Of Postpartum Pads
Now that we’ve covered all the benefits that postpartum pads have to offer, there are a few (potential) downsides to wearing them that you have to be aware of.
Some women report unsavory skin reactions to postpartum pads. This may be due to the chemicals or material used in certain products.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no real way of telling beforehand if you’d react to a certain brand. It’s all trial and error.
To counter this, you can opt for organic postpartum pads which are gentler on the skin and on the environment. Another option is using reusable postpartum cloth pads.
Regardless of how large some postpartum pads are, you can still experience some leaks in the first few days post birth, which is when the bleeding is at its heaviest.
This is especially true with maternity pads that come with no adhesive wings. These kinds of pads tend to move around in your underwear, leading to pesky stains.
You will very probably be wearing some kind of pad for six weeks; as you change from one absorbency to another, as well as from one brand to another, you may experience some chafing.
Even the softest pads can lead to chafing at times. As indicated by Period! this can be due to not changing the pad often, or wearing tight clothes.
Going pad free for a couple of hours (if possible) can help the area breathe better.
What to Avoid When Shopping for Postpartum Pads
To keep the downsides we covered above at bay (as well as other potential problems that might come up), be sure you avoid the following when shopping for postpartum pads.
Pads That Are Too Bulky
Pads that don’t fit well and are too bulky can lead to great discomfort in an already-sore area.
Despite what some people think is true, how bulky a postpartum pad is doesn’t necessarily serve as an indication of how absorbent it is.
Slightly thinner – and far more comfortable pads – can still be equally absorbent.
After all, you’ll be wearing pads for weeks, so being comfortable while doing so will make postpartum life better.
Wrong Absorption Levels
Most postpartum pad brands indicate absorption levels on the packaging of their products, so be sure to check that out before you buy any.
You wouldn’t want to stock up on low absorbency pads for the first few days post-birth! Go for higher absorbency levels in the beginning, lowering as your flow lessens with time.
Pads That Are Too Small or Too Big
You’re going to want total coverage in the first days post birth if you plan on staying away from nasty surprises.
The postpartum pad you wear should reach well into the front and back. Go for smaller sizes as you progress through the 6-week period.
If you’re prone to skin irritation or allergic reactions, opt for chemical-free or organic postpartum pads.
Keep away from scented pads if your skin is sensitive – the last thing you’d want in that area is an adverse skin reaction!
Cloth postpartum pads are a good option for super sensitive skin.
Ingredients You’re Allergic To
Continuing on from the previous point – check the ingredient list on your postpartum pad package before using.
You should always make sure that the postpartum pad you’re thinking of buying doesn’t contain any ingredient(s) you’re allergic to.
Best Postpartum Pads – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 7 Recommendations
There’s lots of stuff you can do to help yourself have a smoother postpartum phase, and – as anyone who has been there and done that will tell you – it all begins with picking the right postpartum pads.
Always Maxi Overnight Feminine Pads with Wings
During the postpartum period, you’ll be using a diverse selection of sanitary pads. In the first 40 days post birth, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to protecting yourself from leakages and stains.
The Always Maxi Overnight pads make for great daily and night pads in the days when you no longer need adult diapers or maternity pads, but have a flow that’s still too much for a regular pad to handle.
Investing in two or three packets of these will likely be enough to see you through the lochia days. Any leftovers can easily be used as nighttime protection during your normal menstrual cycle, too.
What sets these pads apart from their competition is that they really stick to underwear without moving. This is a huge plus, especially when moving around in bed and getting comfortable for those night-time feeds.
They also don’t tend to leave any adhesive residue, saving your underwear from unnecessary trauma. And, since they stick well to panties, there’s no accidental sticking to someplace else with movement. Thank us later for an ‘Ouch’ averted!
Still, if you’re planning on using these in the very early days, it’s best to pop an incontinence sheet on your bedding, just in case any leaks were to happen.
As you may be well aware of by now, the amount of bleeding can change drastically from one day to the next. Breastfeeding may also lead to gushes that can take you by surprise.
They do absorb well, and are good at preventing rashes or chafing.
- Can be used both during the postpartum period, and as night time pads during your menstrual cycle.
- A well-sized option for the postpartum phase that’s not too bulky and does not clump under clothes.
- Can easily be transformed into a padsicle.
- Not a maternity pad, so be careful of leaks if using in the very first days post-birth.
- Not ideal for women with super sensitive skin.
Poise Incontinence Pads, Maximum Absorbency
The postpartum phase is made up of 40 days of varying levels of leakages from places you never even thought possible. Unfortunately, bladder leakages are all too common post-birth.
Your pelvic muscles stretch to accommodate your baby’s exit into the world, and it’s quite common to experience bladder leakages in the first few days. (If this continues, you’ll have to speak to a pelvic floor specialist, because incontinence due to giving birth shouldn’t be something you have to live with.)
Once you’re fed up with all the adult diapers, mesh panties, and gigantic maternity pads, it helps to know that there is another in-between option to help you out before graduating to smaller sanitary pads.
The Poise Incontinence Pads come in a maximum absorbency level that can also safely protect you from any bladder leakages.
We’ve all had to painfully stifle a sneeze or two to not wake a sleeping baby, and I can personally vouch that its effect on the pelvic floor is brutal. With these pads, you’ll know you’re covered, no matter what.
- High absorbency, without the added bulkiness.
- A good option for dealing with light bladder leaks without going for the bulkier adult diapers.
- Some reports of irritation during and after using these pads.
- Adhesion strip can sometimes stick to underwear and be quite difficult to remove.
Always Xtra Protection Daily Panty Liners
Truth is, you’ll be running around in panty liners for quite a while post-birth. Lochia has a tendency to come and go – one day you think ‘all clear’, and the next it’s back to a massive mess.
Having a panty liner on offers peace of mind when out of the house in the first 40 days – and beyond.
The Always Daily Liners offer protection without the bulkiness of a regular pad. They’re great to use once the lochia has reduced considerably, and offer great protection for your first period post-birth.
There’s no saying when the first menstrual cycle after you give birth to baby will say hello, but a panty liner helps keep your clothes safe and a red face away if it decides to come out of the blue while you’re out of the house.
The great thing about these panty liners from Always is that they adhere to underwear really well. No matter how you move, walk or run, you can rest assured that the panty liner will stay firmly in place.
If you’re concerned about skin irritation, it helps to know that these dailies are unscented, yet can easily absorb odors.
Panty liners are one postpartum prop that any leftovers can be easily used. So, this means that you’re very unlikely to experience any loss in stocking up.
- Easy to use and comfortable.
- An extended feeling of freshness.
- Great for days when you’re not sure if your lochia or cycle will return.
- Possibility of chafing or skin irritation.
- It’s advertised that the product can be used daily but, speaking from experience, a proper break with just cotton undies is definitely needed to prevent the above from happening.
Wegreeco Bamboo Cloth Sanitary Pads
We’re all aware that disposable sanitary towels and tampons generate a lot of waste. Most of us are also conscious that our way of life needs to change if we’re going to really make an impact in saving our planet.
Wegreeco’s Reusable Bamboo pads allow you to experience the postpartum phase and your menstrual cycle in a more sustainable manner.
They make up for a more significant cost than if you’re buying standard disposable pads, but this is one investment that will continue giving.
Thanks to the various sizes available that you can choose from, you can switch between one and the other according to your flow, both during postpartum and during the monthly cycle.
It’s also worth mentioning that they do a good job at neutralizing smells, a must-have when dealing with lochia in the first few days post-birth.
We never thought we’d be using ‘cute’ and ‘postpartum pads’ in the same sentence, but these Wegreecos are high on the cute factor as well!
- Sustainable and kind on the environment.
- Soft on the skin and not bulky.
- Kind to the skin – very little (to no) chances of irritation or allergic reactions.
- You need to keep up with the laundry, or else you’ll need to buy a good batch. This is especially true when managing your flow in the first days post-birth.
- If you usually use a menstrual cup during your periods, you’re unlikely to get prolonged use out of these, which might not really justify the cost.
Natracare Organic Maternity Pads
Not all postpartum pads were created equal, and some can easily irritate your skin.
Going for an organic option will help you heal better post-birth, without bringing in any of the undesirable side effects associated with regular pad-use.
The Natacare Organic Maternity Pads are made of a natural plant-based material and are perfume free. The cover is organic cotton, so you can be sure that there are no nasty chemicals coming close to your skin.
Thanks to their natural make-up, these postpartum pads are great for women with sensitive skin. They’re also great as padsicles: just pop a few into the freezer, and voila, you have a handy soothing ice pack to ease the pain!
While they’re very absorbent, they tend to be narrower than other products available on the market. They attach to underwear via a narrow adhesive strip on the back and unfortunately have no side flaps, something to take note of if you prefer a more secure attachment.
- Incredibly soft on the skin without any nasty chemicals or perfume.
- Quite thick and tend to look bulky underneath clothing.
- No adhesive flaps.
Depend Silhouette Incontinence Underwear
You would never be happier at the mere sight of your very own diaper, waiting calmly to be worn. Getting dressed after that first shower is euphoric!
With contractions safely stored in memory (hopefully afterpains are not too much of a pain), the pushing stage well over, and your baby safely snug in their crib – don’t be surprised if you end up exhaling a sigh of relief at the sight of your very own diaper.
The Depend Silhouette Incontinence Underwear has been designed to offer maximum protection during what is quite a vulnerable time for your lady bits.
Adult diapers are never really fun, and the puffy crotch is far from sexy, but at least it’s been made in a design that fits, works and looks better than lots of other bulky adult diapers out there.
If it makes you feel any better, they come in ‘exclusive colors’ as well, so going for boring beige is only optional.
Not all new moms go for adult diapers post-birth. However, no one will deny their convenience and ease to wear, as well as the exceptional safety from leaks they provide.
- Not bulky – they fit well under clothing.
- You have to be careful when putting one on, as the material can tear easily if you’re not gentle with it.
- Offer great protection, but they shouldn’t be kept on for very long.
Spring Maternity Mesh Disposable Delivery Panty
You’ve packed the baby’s hospital bag, and now it’s time to pack yours. I remember how the stark difference in the contents of the two separate bags made me laugh (but cry on the inside).
While the little one’s bag was packed with cute outfits, teeny tiny diapers and a comfy blanket, mine looked almost pitiful! Mesh panties, adult diapers, gigantic pads, breast pads, and all sorts of nipple creams to go in armed against the dreaded soreness.
That said, I’ll be forever thankful for my mesh undies – and my nipple creams, but that’s a story for another time.
The Spring Maternity Disposable Panty is a hospital bag staple, especially if your hospital or birth center does not provide them.
They’re high waisted, making them ideal for both vaginal and cesarean births. The high waist element also helps the postpartum pad stay in place.
In the first couple of days of postpartum, and when leaks are usually the norm, mesh panties are a laundry-time saver.
Soiled? Simply toss away and put on a new one. If not soiled, you can quickly and easily change the maternity pad and leave the same panty on.
This model is also conveniently seamless, which means it will still look good under your pregnancy leggings without clumping up. (Yes, you will probably still be wearing your maternity leggings in the first few days).
- Breathable to help with healing.
- Stretchy fabric that holds the maternity pad in place.
- They’re marketed as disposable, but some people report that they can still withstand a couple of washes on a gentle cycle.
- They might run a bit small, so make allocations for that when purchasing.
- Following on the previous point: they fit snugly, so may not be the most comfortable option if you experience extensive tearing.
How Many Postpartum Pads Will I Need?
There’s no one right answer to this for everyone out there. How many postpartum pads you’ll need will greatly depend on your specific flow.
Nonetheless, to help you aptly prepare with the stocking up, this is what we suggest:
Adult diapers or maternity pads: 24 adult diapers or maternity pads should see you through the first few days of heavy bleeding. If you’re birthing at a hospital or birthing center, it is probable that you’d be provided with these necessities, plus mesh underwear. Consider reducing the amount if this is so.
Mesh panties: 5 should usually be more than enough, especially if the maternity pads you’re using are super capable of containing your flow.
Extra heavy flow overnight pads: A pack of 24 pads should be sufficient.
Normal overnight pads: Another pack of 24 should usually be enough to keep you going stain-free.
Regular pads: You’d be happy to graduate to the less bulky regular pads! If you’re a pad user, there’s no wasting if you stock up properly. 40 should be enough to last you through.
Panty Liners: Once your flow is lighter, a box of panty liners will be sufficient. Mother Rising recommends individually wrapped panty liners – they’re more convenient to carry around in your diaper bag.
You can always keep extra pads for any future pregnancies. If that’s a definite no for you, gift them to a friend or family member, or donate to those in need. Waste not, want not!
How Do I Use Postpartum Pads?
Basically, you can make use of a postpartum pad in the same way you would an ordinary pad during your period.
The only difference is that during the first few days post-birth, you will be dealing with very heavy bleeding, plus a potentially sore vulva and perineum.
As we’ve covered, it’s best to use different kinds of postpartum pads to cover the six weeks, depending on what works best for specific times.
You’ll be progressing from huge adult diapers to neat panty liners through these six weeks.
How To Use An Adult Diaper Post-birth
For the first few days, many women opt for adult diapers.
Simply pull them on as you would with undies. To ease discomfort, you can also pop in a padsicle or an ice pack.
A padsicle is a frozen sanitary pad which helps make you feel more comfortable while healing from a tear and/or dealing with a swollen area. It also helps soothe the pain from pesky hemorrhoids.
To wear, put on the adult diaper, then place the frozen pad inside it.
When the padsicle is no longer cold, or you need a change, simply replace the pad and keep the same adult diaper if it hasn’t been soiled.
If you’re not too fond of homemade padsicles, you can also opt for reusable or disposable ice packs.
How To Use Mesh Panties And Maternity Pads
If the sheer thought of adult diapers haunts you, another option is a mesh panty plus maternity pad solution. Mesh panties are also great if you’ve had a c-section, as there would be less pressure on the incision site.
Simply put on the mesh panty, placing the maternity pad on top and ensuring that it generously covers the front and the back.
Unfortunately, most maternity pads don’t come with wings, and they do tend to move, especially at night.
Some new moms also report soiling their sheets when using the mesh panty and maternity pad mix. To avoid this, you can consider placing incontinence sheets on the bed.
How To Use Other Postpartum Pads
Once the amount of lochia lessens, you can graduate to extra heavy flow overnight pads, later moving on to normal pads, and eventually panty liners.
Attach these pads to your usual underwear. If your bleeding is heavier during the night, opt for a heavier flow pad and older underwear that you won’t mind staining.
How To Use Cloth Postpartum Pads
Opting for reusable cloth pads after birth is also a possibility.
Many moms report that the gentle fabric feels far more soothing when recovering from stitches. They’re also chemical-free, so there are no nasty skin reactions to deal with.
Cloth postpartum pads can be used just like normal disposable pads.
Simply place on your underwear and you’re ready to go. When soiled, replace with a clean one and rinse the dirty one to make washing up easier.
My Green Nest suggests storing soiled cloth pads in a wet bag to keep them ready for washing up later.
Being as comfortable as possible in the postpartum period does wonders to your overall mood.
Finding a postpartum pad that best meets your needs at any given time will tremendously help with your healing, limit the stains, and make laundry more of a breeze.
We’re all unique, and we all go through different post-birth experiences. The range of postpartum pads available on the market reflects exactly this.
You can now shop around and, armed with the information in this article, see what works best for you and your needs.
Product photos: © Amazon.com
Many of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you follow these links and make a purchase (or purchases), KidSimplified might earn a commission. This, however, is at no extra cost to you.