buying guides

How to shop for the best breast pads for you

This page contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small amount of money if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our articles and reviews are written independently by the Netmums editorial team.

Okay, so they’re far from glamorous, but breast pads are one of those breastfeeding products that you really can’t live without.

In the early days of breastfeeding, your milk supply is unpredictable, and your breasts are likely to leak profusely around the clock.

Using breast pads helps to absorb these leaks, so you don’t end up with embarrassing wet patches on your clothes.

They’ll also help to protect your bras from stains and stickiness if you’re using nipple cream.

Some women start to leak small amounts of colostrum – the ‘pre-milk’ that your boobs produce in readiness for breastfeeding – in the later stages of pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if you end up needing breast pads before your baby is born.

What to spend
The cheapest breast pads tend to be found in supermarkets and pharmacies.

These are disposable, and cost from as little as £3 for a box of 80.

Branded disposable breast pads tend to be a little more expensive – around the £5 mark.

If you’d prefer to use washable, reusable breast pads, expect to pay around £5 for a pack of two or three pairs.

You can also buy cloth breast pads in funky colours and designs, at around £5 per single pair.

At the upper end of the scale you can buy silicone reusable breast pads, or pads that are designed to be warmed or chilled to soothe sore breasts.

These cost about £15 per pair.

Key features
Disposable breast pads consist of layers of absorbent material with a waterproof backing.

They’re mainly circular, although you can also buy triangular ones, which are designed to be more discreet.

Some are flat, while others are slightly shaped to fit the shape of your breast.

When you’re buying disposable breast pads, look at how they fit into your bra.

Some just slip inside the cup, making them quick and convenient to use, but these may slide out of place or bunch up.

Others stick to the inside of your bra cup with one or two adhesive strips.

Those with two strips tend to be the best at staying put.

Disposable breast pads come in a range of thicknesses.

Standard breast pads are highly absorbent and good for everyday use, but can look a bit bulky under clothes.

Slim breast pads are less noticeable, but also less absorbent, so are best if you only leak lightly.

Night-time breast pads are extra thick so you don’t need to change them so often.

You can also buy gel-filled breast pads, which you can warm or cool to relieve nipple soreness and engorgement (overfull breasts).

Breast pads often come individually wrapped, which obviously means more waste, but keeps them clean in your changing bag.

Washable breast pads are a more eco-friendly option than disposables, and can also save you money in the long run.

These are made of a soft, quick-drying fabric such as microfibre or bamboo, with a waterproof backing.

They don’t stick into your bra, so they can move around a bit, and they may be less absorbent than disposable pads.

They usually come in white, but you can also buy other colours such as black and nude to match your underwear, as well as brighter prints and colours.

Silicone breast pads work differently; instead of absorbing breast milk, they stick directly onto your boobs and put gentle pressure on your nipple to stop your breasts leaking.

They can be worn while swimming, exercising and even if you’re going braless, and you don’t need to keep changing them throughout the day.

They do, however, need to be cleaned each evening with a special washing liquid, and are more expensive to buy initially.

You can also buy gel-filled breast pads, which you can warm or cool to relieve nipple soreness and engorgement (overfull breasts).

These are good if you’re struggling with tender boobs, but are not designed to be as absorbent as normal breast pads.

Need to know
You’ll need to change your breast pads frequently at first – probably at every feed – as you’re likely to leak heavily in the early stages of breastfeeding.

For this reason, lots of mums prefer to start with disposable pads for convenience, and then move on to more economical washable pads later on, when their milk supply has stabilised and leaks are less likely.

Some women find they can manage without breast pads completely once breastfeeding is well established.

And, if you shop via Netmums Rewards powered by Kidstart, the more money you spend, the more money you'll save for your kids.



  • Breast pads are designed to absorb leaks of breast milk, and are often needed from late pregnancy.
  • Disposable breast pads are quick and convenient to use and more absorbent.
  • Washable breast pads are more environmentally friendly and cost less long term.

Related products


Tommee Tippee Breast Milk Storage Bags

RRP £5.49


Breast Milk Storage Bags 5.0 out of 5 , 1 based on 1 ratings 1 user comments.



Theraline Original Pregnancy & Baby Feeding Pillow

RRP £44.95


Original Pregnancy & Baby Feeding Pillow 5.0 out of 5 , 1 based on 1 ratings 1 user comments.



Medela Quick Clean Bags

RRP £12.99


Quick Clean Bags 5.0 out of 5 , 1 based on 1 ratings 1 user comments.