How Many Nursing Pads Do I Need? (Complete Guide)

woman carrying baby while sitting

If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, you may be wondering about nursing pads. Also known as breast pads, these items are inserted into your nursing bra to prevent leakage from seeping through to your shirt, creating embarrassing milk stains! And you may be asking:

How Many Nursing Pads Do I Need a Day?

Depending on how much you leak, you’ll need between four to twelve nursing pads for per day. If you’re leaking a lot you’ll need four to six pads a day. If your leakage is minimal, you’ll need two to three pads in a 24-hour period. 

How Many Nursing Pads Do I Need for a Year?

You’ll need approximately 4000 nursing pads a year for heavy leaking and 2000 for light leakage. If you’re calculating how many nursing pads you need for a year, remember leakage flow can change or even stop at any time. Many moms suggest buying monthly rather than in bulk.

How Many Breast Pads Do I Need If Not Breastfeeding?

Non-breastfeeding moms may experience leakage until their supply dries up which takes 7 to 10 days. Colostrum is produced in the first 2 days before full milk production begins. Plan to have 8 breast pads for a 24-hour period over 8 days.  

Types of Breast Pads and How They Influence the Amount You Need

There are two types of breast pads you can pick from while breastfeeding or while you’re waiting for your milk supply to dry up. The most commonly used nursing pads are the disposable types. But, many moms are also opting for the reusable breast pad types. 

Reusable (washable) Nursing Pads and How Many You Need

Depending on how much you leak, 3 to 6 pairs of reusable nursing pads should be sufficient during your breastfeeding period. This gives you at least 6 pads every day. These pads are washable so you’ll only need, on average, 12 pads for the year. You can buy another pair if there’s wear and tear. 

Cloth nursing pads are washable and can be made with any of the following materials:

  • Cotton 
  • Polyester
  • Hemp
  • Organic bamboo
  • Silicone

Disposable Nursing Pads and How Many You Need

For heavy leakage, moms could be replacing disposable nursing pads up to 4 times a day. This means you’ll need 8 pads every day. Overnight pads are thicker and you’ll need on average 4 pads at nighttime. If you only experience light leaking, estimate 4 pads in a day and 2 overnight pads at night.

Disposable nursing pads are normally constructed with a thin absorbent material containing chemicals to draw moisture away from your breasts. A waterproof lining is included to prevent leakage through the bra and shirt. Most disposable nursing pads include an adhesive strip to attach the pad securely to the nursing bra to prevent slippage. 

Other Factors Influencing the Number of Breast Pads

There are a number of other factors influencing how many nursing pads you’ll need every day.


Absorbency is essential to ensure you don’t suffer from embarrassing leakage or milk stains while out for dinner with your husband’s boss! Look for disposable nursing pads made with absorbent materials designed to draw moisture away from your breast while being locked in. A plastic lining will also prevent the milk from seeping through your bra. 

Overnight disposable nursing pads are thicker with more absorbency, meaning you may only need to change twice at night. Reusable breast pads aren’t as absorbent as disposable nursing pads. However, if you’re able to replace them often throughout the day, you won’t need to stress about leaks. 

Amount of Milk Leakage of the Mother

The amount of milk leakage of the mother will influence how many nursing pads you need every day. It’s essential to remember that milk leakage changes as your baby’s feeding need increase or get less. During the first four to six weeks the milk-making hormone will increase every time milk is taken from the breast. Your body will learn how much milk to produce based on feeding times so you may experience excessive leaking during this time. 

Some mothers also leak more at nighttime with fewer feeding times. Milk supply generally lessens when your baby doesn’t drink as often which also results in less leaking. 

How Many Nursing Pads Should I Bring to the Hospital?

You won’t need many nursing pads when going into the hospital as your milk supply normally only starts 3 to 5 days after the birth of your baby. However, if you’re expected to be in hospital for more than 2 days, packing some nursing pads is a good idea as part of your hospital survival kit for new parents. Instead of packing the whole box, estimate enough pads for 2 or 3 days at around 6 to 8 pads a day. 

If you’re using reusable breast pads while staying in hospital, it may not be easy to wash them regularly between use so pack at least 6 sets. This gives you 3 clean pairs for one day, while your partner takes the used sets home to be laundered. 

How Often Do You Need to Change Breast Pads?

How often you need to change breast pads depends on how much milk leakage you have. If you let wet nursing pads stay in contact with your breasts for too long, you’ll get painful, cracked nipples. You also run the risk of developing breast infections because of over-exposure to moisture and lack of proper air circulation. 

It’s essential to change your nursing pads before they get soaked with milk. Heavy milk leakage requires you to change nursing pads at least 4 to 6 times a day. For light leakage, you normally have to only change your breast pads twice a day. 

Do I Need as Many Nursing Bras as Breast Pads?

If you’re using a good-quality nursing bra, such as the best bra for the Elvie pump or pumping bra for the Spectra pump, then it’s recommended to start with 3 nursing bras. By using breast pads, you’re preventing any milk leaks from going through to the bra which means less changing. So, to answer your question, you don’t need as many nursing bras as the number of breast pads. 

What Are the Best Nursing Pads?

While factors such as absorbency and amount of milk leakage are key to deciding the ideal nursing pads to use, there are other features to look out for:

  • Comfort: Look for nursing pads that are soft and won’t rub or irritate your nipples. Breast pads that have a “stay dry” layer also give you maximum comfort by wicking the moisture away from your skin.
  • Contour: Nursing pads that are shaped to fit your contoured breast shape also add to the comfort of wearing them. Contoured nursing pads won’t bunch up or move around. This is vital if you’re wearing a tight-fitting shirt!
  • Coverage: Make sure the nursing pads you purchase are big enough to cover most of your breast. If they’re too small, they’ll slip off or bunch up. 
  • Adhesive strips: If you’re an active mom, you want to ensure your nursing pads stay in one place without shifting around. This is when disposable nursing pads with adhesive strips or backing come in handy.
  • Visibility: Bulky nursing pads can be visible under tight-fitting shirts. The same goes for nursing pads that don’t fit nicely with the contour of your breasts. The last thing you want is an obvious bulge under your T-shirt. 
  • Expiry dates: Breast pads don’t have expiry dates. Read my article on whether breast pads expire to get more information. 

By looking out for these features when picking the best nursing pads, you’ll be able to make the right decision. 

Best Reusable Nursing Pads

KeaBabies Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads tick all the boxes for features you need for comfortable wearing while breastfeeding. The pads are super absorbent with 4 layers, 3 made with soft organic bamboo material and 1 with a waterproof layer to prevent milk leakage. 

With the contoured design, soft edges, and enough coverage for B to D breast sizes, nursing moms find these reusable breast pads ultra-comfortable. 

Another reusable nursing pad that’s highly recommended is the Kindred Bravely nursing pad. These are organic nursing pads that can be washed and reused. They’re also ultra soft so they won’t chafe your skin and they’re hypoallergenic so for moms with sensitive skin. 

By the way, Kindred is the brand behind the popular Kindred Bravely Sublime Support Low Impact Nursing & Maternity Sports Bra which I chose as the best bra for the Willow pump.

Best Disposable Breast Pad

Breastfeeding moms recommend Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads for their super absorbent features. The brand’s InvisiLock Core ensures all moisture is drawn away from skin contact, keeping the breasts dry for longer. The pads are contoured to fit the breast shape comfortably.

A reinforced waterproof lining keeps your nursing bra and shirt free of milk stains and adhesive strips prevent the pads from shifting when you’re on the move. 

Final Thoughts

Deciding how many nursing pads depends on the amount of milk leakage, the absorbency of the materials used, and for how long you’re breastfeeding. It also depends on whether you’re using disposable or reusable cloth breast pads. You can also find a matching bra for your nursing pads to secure them in place. Use my estimated figures to guide you when deciding on the quantity.

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