Best maternity pads for after birth

best maternity pads

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

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

best-maternity-pads-extra-long-cushioned
Price: $20.97

Lil-Lets have always had our back when it comes to our feminine hygiene needs and, their range of maternity products is no different. Developed to make sure you're comfortable after giving birth, these Lil-Lets Maternity Pads are extra absorbent and have stay put wings to keep it in place.

One review said: "Not one for leaving reviews, but as a first-time mum, we all need one less thing to worry about. I'd tried a few brands before running out one night; ordered these on same-day delivery on Prime (winning, as I didn’t need to leave the house with a newborn or describe to my husband what I needed/where to find them) and they were perfect.

"Not only were they very absorbent, but they were also very thin, unlike most that make you feel like you have a nappy on. These Lil-Lets Maternity Pads covered all areas thanks to their large wings, plus I found they were breathable and comfortable, with no irritation of stitches. As a bonus, these pads are very discreet when you leave the house!"

Pros

  • Extra absorbent
  • Cushioned and soft

Cons

  • Not really suitable for use with disposable pants
Unit:30
Reusability:Disposable
  • Fragrance free
  • Cushioned and soft
  • Stay put wings

Best maternity pads for a heavy flow

best-maternity-pads-organyc
Price: $16.89

Winner of the 2020 Gold Best Pregnancy/Maternity Product in the Mother&Baby Awards.

These 100 per cent Organyc Organic Cotton Maternity Pads are designed for your body. Not only do they absorb a heavy flow after you give birth, but they also help to encourage healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Our mum tester, Lydia, said: "I think this product is quite expensive for maternity pads, but for the comfort and protection they provide, it is worth it. I would choose this product over others because they are the widest, softest and most comfortable of others on the market that I have tried. I have and would continue to recommend these to friends that are expecting a baby, as they are a hospital bag essential."

Read our Organyc Maternity Pads review here.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Good protection

Cons

  • Some mentioned that there are cheaper alternatives
Unit:24
Reusability:Disposable
  • Unscented

Best maternity pads for breathability

As a new mum, you'll probably find that your priority shifts from design to practicality, and the Abena Premium Maternity Pads fit the bill. They are slightly bulky, but they provide you with the ultimate protection and are fast acting.

One mum said, "Just had my baby three weeks ago and can guarantee and recommend this product to everyone! It's softer than any other hygiene product I've tried for postnatal care. It's not irritating 'down there', it's kind to the skin so if you have stitches, it won't affect you.

"They're very big (massive really, but it's a good thing) in order to catch all the postnatal bleeding without you fearing that you might have 'spotty accidents' on your clothes, especially while going back home from hospital. Buy with confidence soon to be mummies."

Pros

  • Leak protection and fast acting
  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Quite bulky to wear
Unit:15
Reusability:Disposable
  • Breathable backsheet
  • Fast acting and leak protection
  • Eco-friendly

Best organic maternity pads

best-maternity-pads-cotton-cover-pads
Price: $14.99

Made from organic cotton, the Rael 100% Organic Cotton Menstrual Overnight Pads are perfect to wear postnatal as they are super absorbent and have advanced leak protection. They are also plastic free and contain no chemical nasties so they are gentle on skin too.

One review said: "I was relieved to have these and know that my afterbirth damage would be able to breath and heal chemical free with these organic pads. I expected heavy bleeding after birth but, whether it was just me or the pads, I never had any over flow or leakage as these were super absorbent!"

Pros

  • Super absorbent
  • Made from soft organic cotton

Cons

  • Some mentioned the wings don't stick well
Unit:20
Reusability:Disposable
  • Maximum breathability
  • Advanced leak protection
  • Super absorbent

Best maternity pads for sensitive skin

The Natracare - New Mother Maternity Pads are super absorbent and have a soft cotton cover, making them ideal for sensitive skin. Although these don't have wings, they're super soft and essential in any expectant mum's hospital bag.

One review said: "This were great for use after labor. They are super absorbent - I didn't leak once. They were soft enough that they didn't cause discomfort and didn't have the horrible plastic smell of some other pads (or any synthetic smell either). Added benefit that they are better for the environment than other products."

Pros

  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Eco friendly

Cons

  • The pads don't have wings
Unit:20
Reusability:Disposable
  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • Extra soft

Best reusable maternity pads

If you're searching for sustainable maternity pads, then this pack of Teamoy 10Pcs Reusable Sanitary Pads will be perfect for you. It has button snaps on the wings feature to ensure the pads stay in place and they're also machine washable.

One mum said: "So much better than disposable pads! Absorb loads. Don't leak and don't have that horrible smell. Just rinse out under the bath tap then chuck in washing machine with other washing. Clean up perfectly, don't stain. Only downside is they can slide back in your knickers as only held on with a popper. This has not actually been a problem and not had any leaks at the front but need to experiment with different knicker styles to get a snug fit."

Pros

  • Button snaps to secure in place
  • Eco-friendly and reusable

Cons

  • Some found they can sometimes move as it's only secured with poppers
Unit:10
Reusability:Washable
  • Wet bag
  • Eco friendly

Best budget maternity pads

Best budget maternity pads

Designed for use post birth, these My Little Star New Mum Maternity Pads have new mums in mind. As well as being a budget option, these extra long, thick pads have a super absorbent core to offer maximum comfort and protection, perfect for the first few days after birth.

One review said: "Brilliant pads and what you need for recovery after a baby. I used these for almost 4 weeks after having my baby and have no complaints. They did exactly what they need to. I experienced no leaks and felt they held very well."

Pros

  • Extra long design
  • Super absorbent core

Cons

  • Some found they could curl up at the end
Unit:10
Reusability:Disposable
  • Extra long
  • Thick pads

Best pads for post-birth incontinence

Jude has a range of incontinence solutions which can be personalised to your unique needs. These include ultra-thin, super-soft, totally-biodegradable pads and liners. These discreet pads and liners can help with different levels of leakage to help you stay comfortable and dry. Jude also offer fast-absorbing leak proof incontinence underwear which is made from natural sustainable materials.

Review: "They are so comfortable to wear especially during this hot weather. I hardly know that I am wearing a ‘pad’. Good to know that better for the planet as well! None of my pads have ever leaked and I feel fresh and confident when wearing."

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Don't make you sweat
  • Ultra thin yet still absorbent

Cons

  • 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.

Hypoallergenic material

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.

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Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.