Whether you are using disposable or reusable nursing pads, you have to change them at some point during the day. Some people say that you should change them when needed, while others say you should change them whenever you feed the baby to avoid infection. Regardless of what everyone else says, you can never get a conclusive answer regarding how often to change breast pads.
Several factors determine how often nursing pads should be changed, and we shall discuss them in this article. Based on these factors, you will be able to decide on how many times you should change your breast pads.
Factors that determine how often to change breast pads
Some people swear that disposable pads are more absorbent than washable pads while others claim by the vice versa.
Nonetheless, the amount of liquid that the breast pads –disposable or reusable- can hold will determine how often you will need to change them.
Cloth nursing pads that are made from bamboo or hemp tend to be very absorbent. Some cloth pads even become more absorbent with frequent washing. So the more you wash them, the more absorbent they become.
Disposable pads are also made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, cotton, and polyester. So they also have different levels of absorbency.
Therefore, the number of times you will need to change the pads will depend on how much liquid your pads can hold without leaking. When you feel they are too full, change immediately.
2. The level of leaking
The amount of milk you are leaking will determine how often you should change the pads. The first few weeks after delivery, milk let down is usually very high, so you experience heavy leaking.
At this point, you may need to change the pads as soon as you start feeling wet. Most nursing pads are designed to draw moisture away from your breasts so that you can remain as dry as possible. Thus, if you start feeling wet, it is a sign that the pads are full and may start leaking through your clothes if not removed immediately.
The frequency of changing will, therefore, depend on how much milk the pads can absorb. As your milk supply stabilizes, you may not leak as much; hence, you may change the pads a couple of times a day and at night.
See also: Best nursing pads for heavy leaking.
Reasons why you should change nursing pads often.
1. Avoid infection
When nursing pads become damp, they create a favorable environment for yeast to grow. Yeast thrives in moist conditions and may cause yeast/fungal infection. Thus, it would help if you changed the pads immediately; they start feeling damp so that you do not get a nipple infection.
If you are using reusable breast pads, ensure they are well laundered and dried so that all the yeast is killed. This will help to prevent thrush.
2. Prevent nipple irritation
It would help if you changed your breast pads whenever they get wet because they can make your nipples irritated and sore when they continuously rub against the skin.
Sore nipples make breastfeeding very difficult. They are also susceptible to infections such as thrush.
Thus, changing pads as often as possible ensures your nipples remain dry and safe from infections.
So how often should you change breast pads?
My answer to this is as often as possible.
When the pads get wet, change them immediately. Doing this will minimize the risk of getting irritated and sore nipples, which may lead to nipple infection.
FAQ on how often to change nursing pads
Q1. How many nursing pads do I need?
The number of nursing pads you need depends on how much you leak.
If you are leaking heavily, you may need to change as often as possible – up to 6 times a day.
This is where you choose the most cost-effective nursing pads between disposables and reusable.
Remember, if you choose to buy reusable pads, you will have to wash them as often as possible since you will be using several of them per day.
Q2. How many reusable nursing pads do I need?
The number of reusable pads you need also depends on how much you leak and how often you want to do the washing.
If you change about three times a day, by the end of the week, you may be having a load of 21 breast pads to wash.
This means that you need to buy several nursing pads. However, you can choose to wash every other day if you do not want to stock up on more pads.
Q3. Should I wear breast pads all the time?
This also depends on how much you are leaking. If the leaking is quite heavy, you will need to wear pads all the time.
However, some breastfeeding moms choose to put folded handkerchiefs inside the nursing bra when at home and use nursing pads when in public. This helps to cut on cost if you are using disposable pads or minimize wash load if you are using washable pads.
Q3. Is it okay to wear breast pads to bed at night?
It is okay to wear breast pads to bed, especially when you are leaking heavily. Milk let down increases at night because your baby does not nurse too often compared to day time.
Thus, wearing nursing pads prevents milk from soaking through to your clothing and messing your bedding.
To answer the question about how often to change breast pads, a short answer is as often as possible. It mainly depends on the amount of leaking and the absorbency of the nursing pads.
In the early days after delivery, you may need to change the pads several times a day because the milk let down is relatively high. You also need to invest in highly absorbent breast pads for maximum protection.