After four and a half months of breast feeding, I know all about nursing pads. I don't really know why they're called nursing pads since they aren't for nursing but rather for leaking when you're not nursing, but I guess "nursing pad" sounds better than "breast leakage pad".
Nursing pads have given me a headache. I'm all about being sustainable. I went ahead and signed up for a reusable diaper service instead of the more conventional disposable diapers to avoid piling a garbage can of plastic and chemicals each week onto the local landfill. So when my breasts started leaking up a storm the moment my milk came in, I naively thought I'd do the same with nursing pads.
I didn't know quite what I was in for. I first tried to buy washable nursing pads in the supermarket pharmacy. They claimed they were made of cotton with some kind of nylon lining to stop leakage and seemed a good choice. They sucked. I barely made it through an hour before my entire t-shirt was soaked through. Luckily this happened at home when I was still too exhausted to go out much.
I moved on to more serious environmentally-focused products, and spent up to $13 (yes, that much) on 2 sets of bamboo lined pads that were wide in diameter. These were better, but they never made it through the day. As a result, I was changing t-shirts several times a day to accommodate the leakage and change over to the second set, which didn't last me till evening ... plus having to run the washing machine and dryer every day to clean and dry them. Not so sustainable, I thought, from any perspective. And no better products seemed to exist on the market.
My mom had been yammering at me to use sanitary towels - cut them in half, she said, and stick them in your bra. That's what she did. In 1973. I felt a bit dubious about this and was right to. Though the sanitary towels were plenty absorbent, they stuck to my already sore and split nipples and poked through my bra and t-shirt for a horrendous-looking malformation in my chest area.
This is 2011, I thought. There must be some product out there. And there was. I found a brand of disposable nursing pads made by Medela. These guys also made the breast pump I was using and while not the state-of-the-art, it was a functional product. The nursing pads were also functional. But I didn't like how the milk got absorbed and formed into some kind of gel in the pad itself, making it heavy (and to my nose also smelly). I had to use 2 sets a day to avoid the heavy/smelly combo that was driving me bananas. But I liked the contoured design, even if the sticker on the back turned out to be pointless because my bra and breasts moved in opposing directions throughout the day and the damn things always ended up in the wrong spot (causing leakage).
So I switched brands, to the competition on the rack next to them, by Lanisoh. Again, I used their vaseline type product to fix my nipples and it worked quite well even if it was sticky. Like Medela, these pads were contoured (though without the nifty but pointless fold Medela has to follow the shape of your breast). But like Medela, they gelled up. Not as much so it was more tolerable. But gel they did, and for whatever reason this made the internal lining of the pad stick to my breasts. Quite an unpleasant experience to remove them.
Worse, both disposable brands of nursing pads were individually wrapped. As if being disposable wasn't bad enough already, these companies seem to think it's a good idea to produce yet more plastic and waste. Needless to say, this jarred with me. Not least because the individual wrapping seemed useless the moment you stick it in your bag, because it wrinkles up making it hard to get the pad out.
So when I was in the supermarket two days ago and saw a different brand of nursing pads (my previous box having run out), I was excited. These were by Johnson's. They seemed a bit thicker than the previous pads, but well shaped, with a "fake" nipple at the end so that your nipple has space to fit somewhere rather than get completely squashed flat (so much so that I had to rub it back to its normal shape before breast feeding could begin). My only worry was that they seemed a bit smaller than the other pads and could therefore possibly leak more easily.
Not so. They are super-absorbent, so probably don't need to be as big. They keep their shape throughout the day and the inner lining doesn't detach and stick to your breasts. Even better - they aren't individually wrapped! Better still, the sticker-cover doesn't have texted slated all over it like the Lanisoh ones, which is visible through a white bra and t-shirt.
I think I've found my pads. Finally. Only 4.5 months in.