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Best maternity pads 2023: The best post-birth maternity pads for protection and comfort

Maternity pads are an essential post-birth item for your hospital bag; see our top picks, loved by both new mums and midwives

During the fourth trimester of a pregnancy there are some not-so-glamorous trials of motherhood that women have to endure, heavy bleeding being one of the worst. Also known as lochia, this process is completely natural and can continue for up to six weeks post-birth, after both vaginal deliveries and C-sections. With this in mind, you’ll want to ensure you have a stash of the best maternity pads packed in your hospital bag, as well as a good supply waiting at home. Finding a great maternity pad will aid your healing and recovery journey post-birth, as well as keep you comfortable and give you one less thing to worry about. Initially, you might be surprised at just how many maternity pads you get through: if you’re changing one every few hours, you’ll need at least six or seven pads per day, so it’s definitely worth stocking up in advance.

There are many maternity pads on the market to choose from, so picking the right one for you will depend on a number of factors. For example, if this isn’t the first time you’ve given birth you’ll know that after a week or so your flow lessens substantially. That being the case you might be able to get away with a slightly thinner maternity pad. If eco-friendliness is high on your list of priorities then you may also want to check out washable and reusable options.

We’ve scoured the internet for maternity pads that are highly rated for being strong, absorbent and large enough to give extra support and comfort in the early days post-birth. From the best night-time maternity pads to eco-friendly options, our helpful buying guide will walk you through what’s available and what to look out for when shopping.

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Best maternity pads: At a glance

  • Best overall: Natracare New Mother Maternity Pads | Buy now 
  • Best for night-time use: Always Ultra Maxi Night | Buy now
  • Best for absorbency: Lil-Lets Maternity Maxi Pads | Buy now 
  • Best organic option: Organyc Maternity Pads | Buy now
  • Best for reusability : Bloom & Nora Reusable Maternity Pads | Buy now

How to choose the best maternity pads for you

What makes maternity pads so good at coping with postpartum bleeding?

Maternity pads have been designed for a reason: simply put, regular sanitary towels aren’t up to the job in the weeks after you’ve given birth. You need all the protection and support you can get during the postpartum period as the blood flow is quite heavy during this time. Maternity pads tend to be a lot more absorbent than regular sanitary towels and are often longer and wider, too, meaning you won’t constantly have to be changing your pad throughout the day.

Another big plus is that maternity pads generally don’t use the fine mesh top layer often found on sanitary towels – good news, as this can cause a lot of irritation to stitches or any small tears. Tampons are most definitely not advised during this time of healing as they can increase the risk of infection and so should be avoided at all costs.

What features should I look for in a good maternity pad?

Maternity pads are widely available with many options to suit your individual needs. From eco-friendly reusable pads to larger pads specifically made for night-time use, there are a wide variety of types available. There are even maternity pads specifically designed for healing that act as a cooling (or warming) treatment for your delicate parts (although it’s worth noting these aren’t designed for absorption duties).

While they may have their differences, it’s good to know the main features to look out for when selecting the best maternity pad for you.

Materials: Natural materials such as cotton or bamboo tend to be softer on the skin and will offer the most comfort. Pads that are free from chlorine, plastic and other harmful irritants will be kindest to your recovering and highly sensitive nether regions after you’ve given birth.

Design: For reliable protection from leaks, look for designs that are wider at the back and longer overall. Wings are a bonus as these will keep your pad securely in place. Winged maternity pads are also a great choice for night-time use as they’re designed not to budge when you move around while asleep. Thicker pads are a must if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding (highly likely in the first few days post-birth).

Comfort: Maternity pads should be super soft to the touch for ultimate comfort. High absorbency is also key to ensuring that you feel as dry and clean as possible. Although maternity pads are not the most discreet sanitary products, don’t forget that their main purpose is to keep you comfortable postpartum, and help you on your road to recovery.

Sustainability: Most maternity pads are disposable so, if you’re particularly eco-conscious, you may want to consider that you’ll probably be going through quite a few. Biodegradable maternity pads are a great planet-friendly option but, for zero waste, you may want to look into reusable maternity pads that can be washed and reused multiple times.

How we test maternity pads

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the best and most complete information about a product. To test all the maternity pads on review here, we try them at home and on the go, assessing their absorption levels and the quality of features such as wings. Where maternity pads are recommended for particular use – overnight, for example – we test them during those times to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.

As well as evaluating overall comfort and the quality of materials from which they’re made, we consider absorption capabilities over long hours of wear, too. Finally, we confirm the pack quantity and measurements of the product.READ NEXT: Elvie Stride review: The discreet breast pump with hospital-grade strength

The best maternity pads you can buy in 2023

1. Natracare Organic Cotton New Mother Maternity Pads: Best overall

Price: £2.75 | Buy now from Waitrose

These extra-soft maternity pads by Natracare are intended to provide supreme comfort and protection from leaks in the early days post-birth. As this is a time when your skin will be ultra-sensitive and needs to be well looked after, it’s advisable to avoid pads that use potentially irritating synthetic materials such as plastic. These breathable maternity pads tick that box as they’re made from organic cotton and wood pulp so should be very gentle on your skin. Being 100% compostable, they’re also kinder to the environment.

Super long and highly absorbent, you can rest assured that you won’t leak through your clothes when wearing these. Priced very affordably, they really are the perfect all-rounder and are highly recommended by new mothers and healthcare professionals alike.

Key specs – No. in pack: 10; Material: Cotton; Biodegradable: Yes; Organic: Yes

Buy now from Waitrose

2. Always Maxi Overnight Extra Heavy Flow: Best for night-time use

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

While the chances are you won’t be getting much sleep when your little one arrives, the last thing you want to wake up to in the middle of the night is a leaking pad. These Maxi Overnight pads are not specifically designed for postpartum use but they are nevertheless a brilliant option for those with heavy flows and come highly recommended by many new mothers.

With extra-sticky wings that will keep the pad securely in place and a special 10-hour protection “LeakGuard core”, you can count on these pads to absorb the heaviest bleeding during those precious few hours of sleep.

Unlike most maternity pads, these are also designed with an ultra-wide back, twice the size of a regular Always pad. This makes their shape ideal for dry and comfortable nights in any sleeping position, protecting both you and your bed sheets.

Key specs – No. in pack: 27; Material: Cotton; Biodegradable: No; Organic: No

3. Lil-Lets Maternity Maxi Pads: Best for absorbency

Price: £5.94 | Buy now from Amazon

These Maxi Pads are loved by many new mums for their super-soft comfort and added cushioning. They’re perfect for those heavy days post-birth when you need a little extra protection and comfort. Featuring a soft upper lining, they’re ideal for mums who have had stitches or are feeling particularly delicate. The wings stay in place securely and they have a wide-shaped back for a secure fit and protection against unwanted leaks.

As they’re fragrance-free, these pads are suitable for those with sensitive skin and are gentle enough to use immediately after giving birth. These pads’ standout feature is their specially designed absorption technology, designed to soak up liquid in seconds. Thanks to their extra thick and cushioned core, you’ll stay dry and comfortable in between changes, too. They also come individually wrapped for discreetness and easy disposal.

Key specs – No. in pack: 3 x 10; Material: Cotton; Biodegradable: No; Organic: No

4. Organyc Maternity Pads: Best organic option

Price: £7.99 | Buy now from Planet Organic

Organyc’s breathable cotton pads are ideal for mothers who would prefer a maternity pad made from organic and sustainable materials but who, for whatever reason, can’t consider reusable pads. These ultra-clean, eco-friendly pads are fragrance-, latex- and chlorine-free, making them a superb option for those who prefer to use products with minimal harmful additives. As well as being good for the planet, they’re also designed to avoid causing irritation to sensitive skin or stitched-up areas that need extra care.

While undeniably on the pricier side, these are fantastic organic all-rounders with lots of nice touches. Because these pads contain a highly absorbent core, comfort and dryness should be a given, post-birth. The pads are made from 100% organic cotton and feature a soft breathable lining made from corn starch. As well as being sustainable, these natural materials will help to promote healing and prevent infection during postpartum recovery.

Key specs – No. in pack: 12; Material: 100% organic cotton; Biodegradable: Yes; Organic: Yes

Buy now from Planet Organic

6. Bloom & Nora reusable maternity pads: Best for reusability

Price: £26 | Buy now from Boots

For mothers seeking a  more sustainable and environmentally-friendly solution, these reusable pads from Bloom & Nora are a smart option. They are made up of three absorbent layers, featuring extra-soft bamboo and cotton fibres in the lining and 100% recycled polyester to make them waterproof.

Their absorbent layer is also made from 100% polyester and all three layers combine to give the maximum amount of support and protection, as well as do the minimum amount of harm to the environment.

They are a very comfortable choice for postpartum use thanks to their effective ‘stay-dry’ binding. This can hold up to approximately 195ml of liquid so it’s safe to say that you’re unlikely to experience any embarrassing leaks. They are also very soft on the skin, thanks to that bamboo and cotton fleece top layer.

When it comes to reusing them, you just need to pop them in the washing machine and push the ‘on’ button. The manufacturer says you should be able to get at least 10 years worth of use from these pads. That being the case it makes sense to hold onto them if you’re thinking of adding to your brood in the coming years.

Key specs – No. in pack: 3; Material: Recycled polyester with membrane (waterproof layer), polyester (absorbent layer), 70% bamboo and 30% cotton fleece (top layer); Biodegradable: No; Organic: No

Buy now from Boots

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