As an expectant parent, the questions are endless when it comes to childbirth, so much so that any new mum might find that they aren't as prepared for what changes occur to their body after giving birth, as they are for pregnancy and labour, so the best maternity pads might not be at the top of your shopping list.
Your first postpartum period can feel overwhelming, especially when you're tired from lack of sleep and still recovering from birth.
According to LloydsPharmacy, "After giving birth it’s common for you to experience vaginal bleeding and discharge, even if you have had a caesarean. This is known as lochia, and the bleeding comes from the area where the placenta was attached. Your body is getting rid of any additional blood and tissue that nourished your baby and is no longer needed."
Our favourite maternity pads shortlist 2023:
• Our favourite overall maternity pads: Lil-Lets Maternity Pads
• Our favourite organic maternity pads: Rael 100% Cotton Organic Menstrual Overnight Pads
• Our favourite eco friendly maternity pads: Teamoy 10PCS Reusable Maternity Pads
Maternity pads provide good protection and are here to support new mums during this experience. They also provide more protection than normal period pads, so that you can focus on your new baby.
Best overall maternity pads
Lil-Lets have always had our back when it comes to our feminine hygiene needs and, their range of
- Extra absorbent
- Cushioned and soft
- Not really suitable for use with disposable pants
Best maternity pads for a heavy flow
Winner of the 2020 Gold Best Pregnancy/Maternity Product in the Mother&Baby Awards.
- Good protection
- Some mentioned that there are cheaper alternatives
Best organic maternity pads
Made from organic cotton, the Rael 100% Organic Cotton Menstrual Overnight Pads are perfect to
- Super absorbent
- Made from soft organic cotton
- Some mentioned the wings don't stick well
Best maternity pads for sensitive skin
The Natracare - New Mother Maternity Pads are super absorbent and have a soft cotton cover, making
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Eco friendly
- The pads don't have wings
Best reusable maternity pads
If you're searching for sustainable maternity pads, then this pack of Teamoy 10Pcs Reusable
- Button snaps to secure in place
- Eco-friendly and reusable
- Some found they can sometimes move as it's only secured with poppers
Best budget maternity pads
Designed for use post birth, these My Little Star New Mum Maternity Pads have new mums in mind. As
- Extra long design
- Super absorbent core
- Some found they could curl up at the end
Best pads for post-birth incontinence
Jude has a range of incontinence
- Don't make you sweat
- Ultra thin yet still absorbent
- Some reviews found them a bit too wide
Best maternity pads: All you need to know
What to consider when deciding what maternity pads to buy
Just like regular sanitary pads, there are many options available to buy for maternity pads too. There are many that are made in a variety of sizes, materials and with different absorbency levels.
Because there are many options, you may be unsure what type to go for. To help you make your choice, we have advice from Koala Babycare on the things to consider when deciding which ones to buy.
Size and absorbency
The size and level of absorbency you need depend on the amount of bleeding and discharge you're experiencing. Immediately after childbirth, bleeding and discharge are heavier, and a pad with a higher level of absorbency is needed.
A good maternity pad should be made of hypoallergenic material that is kind to the delicate vaginal area. This helps prevent infection or irritation. Natural materials, such as cotton and bamboo, allow the skin to breathe. The material that regular sanitary towels are made from can cause itching, soreness and redness in your intimate areas.
Disposable or washable
Although more common with period pants, maternity pads can be disposable or washable, either by machine or by hand. As well as being environmentally friendly, washable pads are very gentle on the skin, as they are made from natural fibres.
How many should I take to hospital?
As you'll need to change your pad every one to two hours, we recommend taking at least two boxes of pads. Most maternity pads come individually wrapped in their boxes, so you can always add these in without the box if you want to save some space.
Make sure that you have plenty more stocked up a home too. If you're left with spares, you can donate any unopened products to a local charity.
Are maternity pads different to sanitary towels?
LloydsPharmacy explains: "Compared to sanitary pads, maternity pads are much longer, thicker and softer. They have been designed to be more absorbent and gentle on your skin compared to sanitary products. Even if you used tampons before your birth it is best not to use tampons after you have given birth as this could lead to infection. When your periods start again then you can use tampons if you prefer them over pads."
Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.