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10 of the best maternity pads

Ultra absorbent maternity pads will come in very handy after you've given birth, here are our favourites starting from £1.29 a pack

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Whether you have a vaginal birth or give birth by Caesarean Section, heavy bleeding is a natural occurrence postpartum. If giving birth in hospital you may be provided with disposable knickers to deal with the flow or you may choose to bring your own disposable maternity knickers, but buying large, comfortable underwear (ones you’re prepared to dispose of if need be) and lining them with specially-designed maternity pads is also a very popular option.

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We’ve used recommendations from parents as well as our parent testers to bring you our pick of the best maternity pads available to buy now, with disposable and resuable options to suit a range of budgets.

Why do you need maternity pads after giving birth?

Whichever route baby decides to take, you’ll most probably encounter heavy bleeding – also known as ‘lochia” – directly after birth, for a matter of days or for as long as 6 weeks.

Bleeding will be heaviest in the hours immediately following birth, where you’ll most probably need to change your pad every hour or two. The bleeding comes from the uterus, mostly from the spot where the placenta was attached.

How do they differ from regular sanitary towels?

You’ll find – especially when the bleeding is at its heaviest – that maternity pads tend to work better than ordinary sanitary towels as they are longer, softer and more absorbent, though as the lochia lessens you might be able to switch to something smaller.

Additionally, the fine mesh on sanitary towels has been known to irritate postpartum stitches – and you certainly wouldn’t want any stitches getting caught in the mesh.

Is postpartum bleeding similar to a period?

Lochia tends to be bright red and heavy, particularly in the hours following birth. After that, it tends to look slightly more pink and watery. By weeks two or three, it can appear brownish.

Clots are also completely normal, but they should be no larger than a 50p piece. Unlike menstrual bleeding, using tampons is not advised as they can increase the risk of infection immediately after birth.

Bleeding may be heavier if breastfeeding as it can encourage the release of the hormone oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract, which then encourages your uterus to push out more blood and tissue – when this is happening, you may experience sensations similar to period pains.

What types of maternity pads are available?

From reusable to eco to pads with wings, maternity pads come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials, so you can rest assured you’ll find the right pads for you. You may find that you prefer to purchase a couple of styles, to suit your needs as and when your flow changes.

Pads made from softer materials – the kinder on sensitive parts the better – came out favourably when we spoke to mums, as did those which were robust enough to make you feel safe and protected from any potential leaks. Reviewers also favoured those that were extra-wide and extra-long for maximum coverage and security.

Here’s our pick of the best maternity pads…

1. Natracare Natural Maternity Pads, £2.59 for 10

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2020, New Mum & Toiletries Products – Gold

Extra long, breathable, soft and biodegradable – it’s no wonder Natracare Maternity Pads were joint-gold winners in the 2020 MadeforMums Awards.

Made from organic cotton with no plastics, dyes or chlorine they are great for sensitive skin which our MFM home tester and new mum Emma liked. She said these were the first maternity pads she had used that didn’t irritate her sensitive skin: “These are the best maternity pads I’ve used for my children’s births”. She also praised them for being “gentle on the skin” and “very comfortable.”

Emma also found they stayed in place – thanks to a sticky backing although MFM Awards judge Ali felt that they “could do with wings” for extra staying power.

The pads are also 100% compostable and these eco-credentials scored highly with our testers and mum reviewers, with MFM Awards judge Ali praising them for being “soft, biodegradable and environmentally-conscious.”

Available from: Holland & Barrett and Amazon

2. Bloom & Nora Bloomer Reusable Sanitary Pads, £4.99-£8.99

Awards: MadeForMums Awards 2020, New Mum & Toiletries Products – Silver

Just like the job in hand, maternity pads notoriously aren’t that pretty. But Bloom & Nora has created a range of eye-catching, reusable maternity pads that are sure to make the task of catching postpartum blood flow that bit more bearable.

In addition to being “bright, colourful and perfectly sewn”, MFM tester Beverley found them to be practical as well as pretty: “The pads are very effective and absorbent. Poppers keep them securely in place throughout the day. The accompanying waterproof wash bag is the perfect storage solution if you’re using pads when out and about.”

While MFM Awards judge Ali praised the pads for their “luxurious quality,” she did question whether reusable maternity pads may be “a step too far with everything else going on,” a sentiment also echoed by MFM Awards 2020 judge Beverley Needham: “As a new parent, it was difficult to keep on top of all the washing for a baby without having to remember to wash the pads. In addition to this, I felt uncomfortable carrying used pads in my changing bag alongside all my child’s medicine/muslins/clean clothes.”

Overall, with well-made environmentally-friendly and reusable maternity pads still few and far between on the market, these are a strong contender for your hospital bag and beyond if you’re looking for a a great sustainable option.

Available from: Bloom & Nora and Babipur

3. Abena Premium Maternity Pads, £4 for 14

Made in Denmark, these highly absorbent pads come highly rated on Amazon, with 76% of their 1,895 customers on Amazon giving them a 5-star rating. They come with a fast absorption layer as well as odour and leak protection – all they key features you need in a maternity pad.

Many mums praise them for their comfortability, security and high absorbency. A number of Amazon reviewers comment on how big they are but one reviewer found this actually came in handy: “The size is the advantage here, as they are incredibly soft and comfortable, and they give you confidence that no accidents should happen.”

Some mums leaving reviews on Amazon found them to be “not as thick as expected,” while one mum would have preferred for them to be scented. Another also felt the pads could do with having wings for additional protection.

Available from: Amazon

4. Organyc Maternity Pads, £5.95 for 12

If you’d like to use a maternity pad that’s as kind on the environment as your skin yet without the additional washing created by reusables, Organyc’s disposable maternity pads are made from 100% cotton, free from bleach and petrochemicals and completely natural.

What’s more, they’re designed with postpartum heavy flow in mind with extra absorbent layers.

Mums on Babipur praise them for their softness, comfortability and eco-friendly credentials despite being disposable, with one mum saying: “While they’re quite wide, they’re so soft they seem to mould to your body.”

While some mums on Babipur commented they are more expensive than other brands, one mum felt that “an extra bit of comfort in the first few days is worth the extra cost.”

Available from: Babipur and Planet Organic

5. Superdrug My Little Star Maternity Pads, £1.29 for 12

Soft, thick, absorbent and contoured for a comfortable fit – it’s no wonder many mums choose to pop these in their hospital bag. Not only that, but they’re one of the most affordable options we’ve encountered.

“You’ll get through maternity pads so quickly at the start, so it’s great that these are so cheap,” commented one mum who left feedback on the Superdrug website.

One mum also added that they helped her during recovery after birth: “they didn’t irritate my Episiotomy cut which allowed my body to start healing whilst I was using them without being uncomfortable.”

Whilst mums found their high absorbency and long length effective in preventing leaks, one mum leaving a review on Superdrug did mention that the pads can sometimes curl up, so something to watch out for.

Available from: Superdrug

6. Always Ultra Night, £1.99 for 10

While these are actually sanitary towels rather than maternity pads, Always is a brand loved by so many mums, and their Ultra Night pads are frequently used and recommended by postpartum mums.

They’re a brand many women trust to use during their periods, but their absorbency levels – and the fact the ‘ultra’ ones come with wings – means many of you have found they do a great job after you’ve given birth, too.

For added discreteness, Always Ultra Nights also contain odour neutralising technology and  high-tech liquid-locking gel to help lock in fluids. What’s more, they only measure 3mm thin, so far less bulky than other pads and towels.

Parents who left reviews on Boots gave these an overall rating of 4.8, with one user praising the pads’ wings, which helps to keep them securely place.

Available from: Boots and Tesco

7. Boots Maternity Pads, £1.29 for 10

While you shouldn’t always judge a product by its packaging, these nicely packaged pads regularly feature in hospital bags and are often reviewed favourably by mums

As well as lovely packaging, these pads from Boots come with super soft cushioning with one reviewer on the their website praised. She said, “I had stitches and appreciated the softness, padding and cushioning of these pads compared to others. Preferred these to the slimmer pads due to the thickness providing cushioning.”

Another mum praised them for being the “most comfortable of all supermarket brands,” providing comfort when recovering from an episiotomy and a 3rd degree tear in particular.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that these don’t come with wings, so one reviewer said they resorted to using “an additional winged pad for extra protection”.

Available from: Boots

8. Tesco Maternity Towel 20 Pack, £1.50

One of the cheapest on the market, Tesco’s maternity towels are deemed “reliable” by a number of mums leaving reviews on the supermarket’s website.

One mum leaving feedback on the site found them to be “wider, longer and softer” than other brands she had tested.

Another added bonus is these pads readily available from a leading supermarket chain as opposed to a niche retailer, so you can easily pick them up when doing your weekly food shop.

Available from: Tesco

9. Tena Lady Maxi Incontinence Pads, £2 for 6

A leading brand when it comes to inconveniences such as incontinence, Tena lady is celebrated for its ultra-absorbent pads, and many mums choose to use these over regular maternity pads or sanitary towels due to their ultra-absorbency and reliability.

The range offers a number of different pads, and the pads have little beads in them that are supposed to help with flow absorption, and also prevent odours from developing.

They do work out to be more expensive than other pads on the market, but given their effectiveness and reliability, many mums would say they are worth the extra expense.

Available from: Boots

10. Maternity Cheeky Wipes, £6 for one

From the makers of Cheeky Wipes – the eco-friendly reusable wipes popular with mums – Cheeky Wipes’ maternity pads boast similar eco credentials. Plus, they look great.

Available in a number of patterns, designs and sizes, the Cheeky Wipes maternity pads – which also double up as sanitary pads – feature 2 absorbent cotton layers and are free from bleaching and harmful chemicals that can cause rashes or irritation (aka the last thing you want to experience down there when you’re recovering from birth).

As with other reusables such as breast pads or nappies, while the initial outlay is more costly than for disposables, they certainly are a good contender for your hospital bag if you’re looking to live more sustainably. Plus, they’re a savvy investment if you’re planning to have more than one baby.

Available from: Cheeky Wipes

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