Toward the latter part of your pregnancy and during the postpartum months, nursing pads are an essential item to have. Many new moms may neglect to include them in their hospital bags, but their use will definitely make your life easier.
Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, you’ll need to use nursing pads (otherwise known as breast pads) at some point during your mommy journey.
But just having them at your disposal alone is not enough – knowing how to correctly use and care for your breast pads will help make your transition into motherhood a bit smoother.
As a mother, there’ll be certain comforts and luxuries that you’ll inevitably go without. Sleep, long showers and spur-of-the-moment trips will become a thing of the past, but comfort and dignity don’t have to be!
Incorporating nursing pads into your daily wear and routine should be easy. Let’s get into the details on how to use, remove, and to take care of your nursing pads.
How To Use Disposable Nursing Pads?
Remove the pads from the package and peel off the adhesive lining. Be sure to handle nursing pads with clean hands.
This can be tricky at first, but will get easier after a few attempts.
The key here is to make sure that you place the pad over the center of your nipple. You should undo your bra strap and eyeball where the pad should be placed over the nipple.
Once you have a good position, it’s time for the next step.
Press the adhesive backing to your bra. The adhesive part goes into the cup of your bra.
You may need to reposition if it’s not aligned correctly to avoid leakage.
When the nursing pads get wet, you’ll need to change them immediately.
Have some spare ones packed away in your diaper bag, purse, or drawer for quick use.
Sometimes, you may find that the pads can become stuck to your nipples. In this case, avoid yanking the pads off. Simply wet your nipples with some lukewarm water, or some good ole’ fashion spit if you don’t have access to water. Slowly peel away.
If your nipples are cracked or chapped, this step will help you avoid any pain. The last thing you want to deal with in your sleep-deprived state is sore nipples!
Risks Associated With Not Properly Replacing Nursing Pads
We talked about how you should replace nursing pads as soon as you notice that they’re wet. There are many reasons for this.
First of all, it can cause irritation to your nipples. In this case, nipple cream can help mitigate the symptoms.
Besides the fact that wet breast pads can cause irritation and be uncomfortable, they can also lead to infection.
Bacteria breeds in moist, warm environments. Nursing pads left unattended become the perfect hang out for bacteria to thrive.
Bacteria can lead to infection which can enter your body and lead to clogged milk ducts. This can be very painful and will wreak havoc on your nursing attempts.
Another issue that may arise is candidiasis, a harmful type of yeast infection which causes thrush. This can also be detrimental to your breastfeeding routine and can be spread to your baby.
If you choose to wear reusable breast pads, make sure to wash them properly to kill any such bacteria.
How To Use Reusable Nursing Pads?
1) Check For Dryness
These sort of breast pads are specifically designed to lock in moisture and can take a while to dry. Before wearing them, be sure they are completely dry.
Similar to wearing disposable pads, you’ll want to make sure your nipple area is dry or apply cream if they’re particularly sore or chapped.
3) Secure The Pad
Unlike disposable nursing pads, reusable breast pads don’t have an adhesive backing. You’ll want to ensure that the pad will cover the surface of your nipple.
Simply wedge the pad in between your bra. Placing these pads isn’t as tricky as they aren’t stuck in that spot once they’re placed.
4) Adjust Accordingly
If the pads come out of place due to activity levels, sweating or other reasons, be sure to re-position them so they’re covering your nipple area properly.
The material used to make recyclable pads is much thicker than material used to make disposable ones.
Sometimes, the pads can be seen through your blouse. If this is the case, there are a few suggestions.
Try to wear tops that are dark colors or patterned. You may also want to invest in thicker padded bras to hide pad visibility.
Again, you’ll want to remove wet breast pads as soon as you are able to.
If you’re not at home, toss them in a Ziploc bag or small wet bag until you get there.
Remember to throw them in the wash when you get home. You want to avoid having them sit or to soak them.
Be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions regarding washing as each brand is different.
Washing varies depending on the materials used. Most are made of cotton, bamboo, wool, or synthetic threads. Therefore, directions may call for a hot water wash only while others may need cold only water or to be hand-washed.
Similarly, drying instructions will differ among brands. For example, you can throw some in the dryer while others must only be air dried.
Following your brand’s specific directions will prolong the life of your pads and limit material breakdown.
8) Disinfect When Needed
This step will need to be completed if you’ve discovered any bacterial growth or if your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms of a bacteria related infection.
How Do I Take Care Of My Reusable Nursing Pads?
Keep Them Together
Cloth or reusable breast pads are made so that they can be washed along with regular laundry.
Some suggest keeping them in a separate mesh or lingerie bag so you can keep the pairs together. This way you won’t have to search all over for your missing pad.
They’re small and can easily become lost, just like the socks you throw in the dryer that magically disappear!
Read Washing Guidelines
As stated earlier, follow the manufacturer’s directions for washing.
Generally, you’ll want to wash with minimal detergent and rinse them well afterwards. This will help clear any product residue that can compromise the absorbency of the pads in the future.
It’s best to let your nursing pads air dry.
Make sure to lay them flat so they don’t develop wrinkles and pleats which make them lay incorrectly in your bra. You want to ensure that your nursing pads aren’t easily visible through your clothing!
Also, many moms recommend letting the pads dry in direct sunlight because it can minimize any stains and bacteria.
Tips For Using Reusable Breast Pads
– Get pads made of breathable fabrics. Research different brands.
– Larger-sized pad edges will cover more surface area which will make them less noticeable through your clothes.
– Have a box of disposable nursing pads on hand for cases of contamination with your reusable ones. Disposable ones are also useful for on-the-go situations or when you may be on vacation and/or don’t have access to a washer and dryer.
– When wearing reusable nursing pads, wear dark-colored tops or shirts with patterns to easily disguise any leakage.
– Different brands are shaped differently. Experiment with brands and find one that works best for you and your comfort level.
How Often Do I Need To Replace My Nursing Pads?
This really depends on your specific needs.
Some women leak frequently while others may only encounter this issue occasionally. Leaking can be at its prime during the first few months after birth while your supply is regulating.
Experts agree that breast pads should be changed at the first sight of dampness. Some women replace breast pads after each feeding, which could total up to between 8 to 11 times a day. Others may only need to change pads twice a day.
Most disposable pads come in boxes of 60. It’s a good idea to keep some stashed in your diaper bag, purse, or in your drawer at home.
Depending on how quickly you go through boxes, you might even decide to make your own reusable nursing pads to save on costs.
Breast pads can be made from old handkerchiefs, the lining of cloth diapers, or sanitary pads. However, according to some sites, this option may not be the best. It can prevent proper airflow to your nipples and will retain too much liquid.
If you plan on nursing for a while and choose to use reusable pads, you should have at least eight pairs in rotation.
This way, you can have some in your car, your purse, the office or wherever you may need them.
It’s also a helpful tip to keep an extra blouse stored away in case of an accident or a bad leak incident.
Wrapping It Up
The use of nursing pads is a daily fixture in most postpartum women’s lives.
Just like maternity clothing and nursing supplies, breast pads are designed for a mother’s convenience too.
The concept behind them is pretty straightforward, and putting them to use is even more effortless if you follow the above steps.
Disposable nursing pads provide easy, one-time use. Reusable pads, on the other hand, can easily be positioned within the bra and provide multiple uses over time.
Whether you decide to go the disposable or reusable route, wearing them and caring for them correctly will support you in adjusting to life as a mother.
There are many challenges in the life of a mother; leaking or spraying breasts don’t have to be one of them!