I have been breastfeeding for four years (2.5 with my first child, 1.5 so far with my second) and I have had to use nursing pads for this entire duration. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had bought bamboo washable nursing pads (along with cloth nappies) in preparation for my breastfeeding journey. However, I did not anticipate just HOW MESSY breastfeeding would be. I had a massive oversupply with my first, and I mean MASSIVE. I'm not kidding at all when I say I could have fed triplets. The bamboo pads I had bought did not have a waterproof backing, and I soaked through them so quickly. After washing they also became a bit stiff and were uncomfortable to wear. So, in desperate survival mode, I switched to disposable nursing pads.
Personally, what I liked about disposable nursing pads were:
They were soft and comfortable.
They had a waterproof backing
They had an adhesive backing- no moving around in your bra
They were extremely absorbent- great for a super oversupplier like me
I could easily chuck them in the bin and change them as I needed
However, the obvious cons were that they added to the abundant waste on this planet that humans are producing. I am also sure there are all kinds of bleaches and absorbent chemicals in there, very much like disposable sanitary pads and nappies, and that may not be something you want close to your baby's food supply! Also, the cost of disposable pads does add up, especially if you breastfeed for an extended period. I live in Melbourne, Australia and my favourite disposable nursing pads were Rite Aid which currently costs $8 for 60 pads from Big W, and Coles' brand which currently costs $5.30 for 40 pads. Changing at least morning and night (though in the early months this was more frequent), it would cost at least $16 per month. Over 4 years, that equates to at least $768 and 5670 pads in the landfill!
My main reason for wanting to switch back to reusable nursing pads this year was to reduce my waste and do my part in helping the environment. I have friends who are excellent at being green and they inspired me to examine my own life and think about the changes I could make. I did use a lot of disposable personal hygiene products and decided to cut it all out. I started researching forums trying to find out what comfortable reusable nursing pads existed and what other mums recommended, and that is how I found out about Bamboobies. Bamboobies are a reusable nursing pad made out of bamboo, cotton, hemp and polyester that has a waterproof backing AND are incredibly soft. I got a pack of six from the official Australian Bamboobies store for $45.95. Shipping is $8.50. That means it pays itself off within 3-4 months compared to using disposable pads. And, of course, the reduced environmental impact is priceless.
These are a world of difference compared to my first experience with washable nursing pads. They are soft against the my skin and stay soft after washing. My supply is well established since my baby is no longer a baby anymore, so these ultra thin ones are more than adequate for my light leakage. If you are at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey and are a heavy leaker, there are also overnight pads available.
To wash, I simply pop them in a laundry bag and chuck it in the washing machine with the rest of my clothes. No special treatment needed! I line dry them and find they dry very quickly, even in the cold weather. If you are leaking heavily though, they could probably do with a quick rinse under the tap before going into the wash with the rest of your laundry. That is just to make sure you get all the milk out and it doesn't later develop a smell. I have found they wash better in warm water compared to cold, and I guess that makes sense since milk is fatty. Six pairs of pads are more than enough for me to cycle through (I change my pads morning and wash my laundry daily).
Just to be clear, this is not a sponsored or affiliated post. This is just my personal experience of what has worked for me. I won't lie though, I really do love disposable nursing pads. Reusable nursing pads are less absorbent clearly because they do not contain moisture-absorbing chemicals (technically not a negative thing), and another issue is they are not adhesive so they do have a tendency to move around after you have pulled your top down and up one too many times. To be honest, I am not sure how well I would have coped even with these reusable pads in the early days when baby is coming off the boob mid-feed and milk is squirting everywhere!
If I did not have a green conscience, I would probably still be using disposable pads. But because I do, I will use the best reusable pad I can find and put up with it occasionally migrating.
What has your experience with reusable/washable nursing pads been?