Choosing the best postpartum pads to support after birth bleeding is a lot like choosing a mattress… picking the wrong one can leave you with more discomfort and pains than you'd probably like! Let me tell you from first hand experience: not all maternity pads are created equal!
In this post, you'll discover how to pick the best postpartum pads, which ones are most like the hospital pads, whether or not cooling ice pads are right for you, thoughts on reusable postpartum pads, and a DIY padiscle recipe!
- Best Postpartum Pads
- Best Overall Postpartum Pads: Abena Maternity Pads
- Best Organic Postpartum Pads: Rael
- Best Reusable Postpartum Cloth Pads: Natissy Organic Reusable Postpartum Cloth Pads
- Best Soothing Postpartum Pads: Honey Pot Postpartum Pads
- Best Cold Ice Pack Postpartum Maxi Pads: Frida Mom 2-in-1 Postpartum Absorbent Perineal Ice Packs
- Best Postpartum Diapers (Alternative to Postpartum Pad): Always Discreet Disposable Postpartum Underwear
- Best Postpartum Period Panties (Alternative to Postpartum Pads): THINX
- How To Choose Postpartum Pads
- FAQS about Postpartum Pads
- When do you start using postpartum pads after birth?
- How many postpartum pads do I need?
- Can I use normal pads after birth?
- Do you have to wear a diaper after giving birth?
- Do I need postpartum pads if I had a c-section?
- Do I need special postpartum pads for stitches?
- How do I DIY padsicles?
- Postpartum pads vs Depends: which is right for you?
- Final Thoughts:
Best Overall Postpartum Pads: Abena Maternity Pads
These are the best pads for after birth bleeding in those first few days in our opinion. They are wingless and super soft (which you'll appreciate since you'll be sitting/lying quite a bit that first week and you don't want anything with wings that could potentially chafes down there!)
Plus they are one of the larger pads and ultra absorbent, making them great for the heavier bleeding the first few days, or as an overnight pad as the days continue. You’ll appreciate that the absorbent core is covered in a waterproof textile that’s still breathable and dermatologically tested to be gentle against your skin.
These postpartum pads are also eco-friendly thanks to an emphasis on sustainability that ensures more trees are planted to reduce their impact on the environment. We like that these pads are also absorbent enough to be used for postpartum incontinence.
- Fluffy, soft, large, super-absorbent design
- Designed to be gentle against skin
- Helps to minimize odor
- Some women may not like how big they are, especially once past the first week of postpartum bleeding (if you want something smaller we recommend these maternity pads)
Best Organic Postpartum Pads: Rael
Rael is a fantastic brand to check out. They have organic postpartum pads, disposable organic period underwear (think postpartum organic diaper), reusable pads, and so much more. They were my postpartum go-to maternity pads two weeks after birth.
The four-layer core is ultra-absorbent to help minimize overflow or leaks. And the pad is designed to be wider at the ends for added coverage.
We like that Rael makes a variety of products for all your postpartum bleeding and period needs! And if you prefer, this pick is also available with wings.
NOTE: I personally do not recommend winged pads until you are back in regular underwear and at least 1 week postpartum especially if you haven't “groomed” down there in a while. I found that with so much sitting/laying around, the wings ended up folding into themselves and the adhesive would get stuck to pubic hair and cause irritation/chafing. If that does happen to you, just dab some nipple cream (or diaper cream if you don't have nipple cream) on the chafed area (as long as it's the outer part of your skin!) and it'll clear up by morning in my experience!).
- Wider design that offers more coverage
- Every style
- Large quantity count per pack
- Only top sheet is made from organic materials
- Wings may not be suitable with all underwear types
Best Reusable Postpartum Cloth Pads: Natissy Organic Reusable Postpartum Cloth Pads
If you’re committed to sustainability, then these reusable pads from Natissy are a great option. Available in either an assorted six-count or a seven-count set, we like that these reusable postpartum pads include wings for added coverage.
These pads are made without chemicals and are ideal for sensitive skin. Along with its ability to trap moisture, this pad can also aid in neutralizing odor. A bonus is that the Natissy pads are designed for a zero feel which means you won’t feel like you’re even wearing them.
TIP: Postpartum bleeding is a different than menstrual bleeding. It's called lochia and has more mucus, you may need to wash any reusable product like this twice or add hydrogen peroxide to them to break down any build up.
- Certified organic with no chemicals
- Designed with wings for added security
- Waterproof PUL layer prevents leaks
- Small quantity per pack
- Requires cleaning to be reused
Best Soothing Postpartum Pads: Honey Pot Postpartum Pads
If the idea of making padsicles sounds too ambitious, you’ll love the Honey Pot’s cooling postpartum pads!
These 100% all-natural pads are made from clean cotton but are infused with mint to cool, lavender to calm, and aloe to soothe sensitive skin.
These plant-based postpartum pads are free from chlorine, pesticides, and fragrances. These come 12 in a pack with wings.
- All-natural ingredients
- Done for you postpartum padsicles
- Mint may be too strong for some women
Best Cold Ice Pack Postpartum Maxi Pads: Frida Mom 2-in-1 Postpartum Absorbent Perineal Ice Packs
Moms of younger children will be pretty familiar with the FridaBaby brand. Along with a variety of baby care products, their Instant Ice Maxi Pads are perfect for those early postpartum days when everything down there is sore.
You’ll like that this is a 2-in-1 solution that not only offers maximum absorbency with an extended length that covers you from front to back but also provides 20 minutes of cooling relief from the minute you begin wearing it. Best of all, these pads don’t need to be stored in the freezer.
- Cools for up to 20 minutes
- No freezer required
- Extended length provides full protection
- Don't stay cold as long as the hospital ice packs
Best Postpartum Diapers (Alternative to Postpartum Pad): Always Discreet Disposable Postpartum Underwear
For the mamas that want a one-and-done solution, the Always Discreet Underwear brand is a great choice. Rather than fumble with underwear and pads, you’ll get an all-in-one solution here. And with the slim FormFit design, it won’t look like you’re wearing a bulky diaper.
While these diapers are usually targeted towards incontinence, they’re fantastic for providing 360-protection during postpartum. You’ll get 56 pairs of underwear in one container which is one of the most economical choices. Plus you can choose your absorbency level.
- Combines postpartum underwear and pads in one design
- Large quantity in one package
- Designed to be slim and undetectable
- Material may be irritating for some people with sensitive skin
Best Postpartum Period Panties (Alternative to Postpartum Pads): THINX
Thinx has been my go-to period panty brand for well over 5 years now! Read my full Thinx period panty review here!
Their products are high quality, last for years, and work for postpartum bleeding too in my experience. While I wouldn't use these the first week after birth when lochia and bleeding is the thickest/most mucus-y and filled with tissue; I do love these one's things start to thin out.
As noted earlier with the reusable postpartum pads, you may need to wash twice or add hydrogen peroxide to the gusset if you notice the lochia build up is particularly strong. I'm speaking from experience as I was actually wearing these when I had my bloody show and my water broke in labor and they got QUITE A BIT of thick mucus build up on them. They were good as new after the wash!
- Durable and long lasting
- Very secure against leaks
- Reusable beyond postpartum into your menstrual cycle
- Not truly designed for lochia/postpartum bleeding
How To Choose Postpartum Pads
Picking postpartum pads is a lot like picking period pads. However, some features are going to be more of a priority than others. Rather than waiting until after giving birth to stock up on supplies, pick up your essentials as part of your third trimester to-do list so that you’re prepared.
Here are a few things to consider:
– reusable vs disposable
Reusable postpartum pads are more sustainable but will add one more thing to your to-do list since you’ll need to wash them; and it's a little different than washing reusable menstrual products!
Conversely, disposable pads cut down on your mess but will need to be replaced — adding to overall expenses.
To wash reusable postpartum pads or postpartum underwear, you'll want to wash on delicate in cold water, and do an extra rinse cycle if your washing machine has the option. Otherwise you may need to run them through the washing machine twice to break down the lochia (thicker than menstrual bleeding). Lay flat or hang dry. If it dries and you still see any discharge marks, run it through the washing machine again.
– wings or no wings?
Depending on the type of postpartum underwear you choose you may want postpartum pads with wings or not. At the hospital, they typically provide un-winged pads and this is ideal for the mesh underwear they provide since the wings wouldn't fit around the gusset (thinnest portion between your legs).
The biggest benefit to wings is that — ideally — they’ll hold the pad in place. There’s nothing worse than a pad that shifts or bunches, ultimately failing to protect your clothing. Plus they serve as an extra clothing guard to catch leaks.
On the flip side, if you haven't “groomed” down there in a while, the wings can get caught on pubic hair, causing unnecessary irritation or chafing. If this happens, simply use some nipple or diaper cream on the area (not INSIDE you vagina though!), to prevent further irritation. This should heal things in a day (from experience).
Our recommendation is wingless the first week, then as you move back to your regular underwear, winged!
– length of pad
You'll want a postpartum pad that is longer than a traditional menstrual pad; at least for the first 3 weeks.
Depending if you tear, develop hemorrhoids, or simply just need the extra length/protection, you'll want something longer to support any cooling pads you may add, or protect against any bleeding or discharge from other areas.
– cooling postpartum pads
If you've given birth at a hospital before you know they load you up with numbing spray, Tucks, and an ice pack on top of your chucks. This can provide an immense amount of relief for some women.
– organic vs nonorganic
Given that your cervix remains open for a little after giving birth, it may be a wise choice to opt for organic postpartum pads that offer less chemicals and harsh toxins.
With that said, most postpartum pads marketed as “organic” actually only feature a top layer of organic cotton, the insides and blasting underside are not organic.
Thus, (as with everything) it's a personal choice, and a short period of your life, so do whatever feels right for your budget.
– other ingredients to consider: chlorine, perfumes, dyes, herbs, etc.
Immediately following giving birth, your skin is going to be very sensitive. So, you’re going to want to avoid harsh chemicals that might irritate your skin. Try to avoid perfumes, fragrances, and dyes especially in postpartum pads. However, some natural ingredients like witch hazel can be soothing and reduce irritation. Always research potential ingredients in advance.
FAQS about Postpartum Pads
When do you start using postpartum pads after birth?
You’re going to need pads as soon as you give birth. Most hospitals will give you a supply during your stay and send you home with a few, but you’ll need to have some on hand for when you return home.
And if you're doing a home birth or birth center, your midwife may provide you with a couple for immediately postpartum, but again you'll need more asap.
How many postpartum pads do I need?
How many pads to buy for postpartum recovery will vary from person to person, but we suggest having at least two to three packs of maternity pads on hand.
The first few days you may be changing your pad every 4 hours or so, by the second or third week, you may be changing it once or twice a day.
If you're soaking your postpartum pad every 2 hours, please contact your care provider ASAP as you may have some hemorrhaging or other issues going on.
Can I use normal pads after birth?
Yes, you can. Many women opt to buy super overnight extra long pads with wings that are normally sold for periods because they’re incredibly absorbent and the increased length offers more protection.
Do you have to wear a diaper after giving birth?
No, but you may find that this is more effective than a pad which can sometimes shift. Plus you don't need to worry about the pad adhesive bunching and irritating your skin. While in the hospital, you’ll usually be given disposable mesh underwear and pads. The choice between diapers and pads is up to you.
Personally, with my first birth I wore the mesh underwear and pads and had zero complaints. I had also gotten a wax within a month of giving birth. My second birth, my midwife gave me 2 postpartum diapers, and I hadn't groomed in months.
I put a pad in the postpartum diapers to make them last longer (instead of needing a new diaper every 4-6 hours, I was able to wear a diaper for a full 24 hours, then dispose of it). This worked amazing and was very comfortable.
However I then tried to wear a winged pad in mesh underwear and that was an awful experience. The wings caught on my public hair and caused a lot of discomfort. I strongly suggest waiting on wings until you've groomed or wear regular underwear with a gusset that the wings can stick too. If you experience any irritation from pads, I strongly encourage the switch to postpartum diapers as they are the most comfortable option in my experience!
Do I need postpartum pads if I had a c-section?
Yes, you’ll still need pads even if you had a c-section. Regardless of how you give birth, the discharge — known as lochia — during postpartum is the same.
Do I need special postpartum pads for stitches?
No, you do not need a special postpartum pad if you had stitches. However, you may want to avoid pads with wings or panty liners for the first few weeks until your stitches dissolve.
Yes, seaweed! I did this with my second and it worked amazing! You tear a strip about two fingers wide and long, then add a little water to both sides of the seaweed, and just place between your labia where the stitches are. It heals things up quickly and provides a natural cooling sensation I preferred over witch hazel pads.
How do I DIY padsicles?
Padsicle recipes are easy and fast to recreate. You’re going to need a clean surface, wax paper, pads, unscented 100% pure aloe vera gel, alcohol-free witch hazel, and 100% pure lavender essential oil (optional). Be sure to wash your hands first before you begin creating padsicles.
- Open the pad, lay it flat on the wax paper (do not remove the adhesive strip that will stick to your underwear)
- On the soft/absorbent side, apply a generous amount of aloe vera on the entire surface of the pad (enough to . Follow this with a layer of witch hazel. If you want, you can add a drop or two of the lavender essential oil to the pad.
- Fold wax paper over the surface side of the pad and place in the freezer for at least an hour.
You can make a stack of these ahead of giving birth so they are waiting for you postpartum!
Postpartum pads vs Depends: which is right for you?
Many moms find that disposable diapers like Depends can be incredibly effective and reduce both the prep and mess factor since it combines underwear and an absorbent panel in one garment.
Depends — just like pads — come in a range of absorbencies. Additionally, since they’re disposable, you don’t have to worry about cleaning messy underwear.
What are the best pads to use after giving birth?
This largely depends on your preferences and needs. We suggest starting with the wingless Abena Maternity Pads – one pack should last you the first 2-3 days, then bleeding should start slowing down and your second pack could last the rest of the first week.
Afterwards, if you want a most cost effective option Rael has extra long incontinence and menstrual pads that make great options. We prefer the incontinence onces postpartum though as they are wingless and a bit more absorbent.
And if you are looking for cold postpartum pads this pick from FridaBaby is awesome, and doesn’t have to be stored in the freezer!
Unsurprisingly, much like picking the right pads for your period, the “best postpartum pads” are going to vary from mama to mama. However, you’ll want to prioritize a pad that is absorbent enough for your needs while also being comfortable against your skin, and that doesn’t shift and bunch, or lead to frequent overflows or leaks.
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