Want to know something weird? I was looking forward to postpartum bleeding.
Why was I such an eager beaver for the dam to break and the blood to gush forth? Because I had a fluffy, colourful stash of postpartum cloth pads to try out!
All told, I used a total of one pair of mesh panties with one disposable pad over the course of my postpartum bleeding, which subsided at almost six weeks post partum. Fortunately (or unfortunately, from a testing perspective), I didn’t tear or need stitches after delivering the twins, and my postpartum bleeding was lighter than with my previous two pregnancies. I was still able to assess the comfort, fit and performance of the postpartum pads I received for review, but oddly, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t need to use them as much as I expected!
Overall Observations About Postpartum Pads
Great news! Not one of the pads I tried underperformed. I experienced leaks only twice. Once was with a natural fibre pad that I’d only washed once (they need to be washed a couple of times to reach maximum absorbency, but I got lazy) and once when I chose a smaller pad (not expecting to bleed much) and had a gush while driving.
After trying so many different pads, all with different shapes and fibre composition, I came to a few important conclusions about what makes a good postpartum pad. I felt safest wearing the pads that were wide through the centre and that had wings cut out of the same piece of fabric, providing some absorbency. Postpartum bleeding often comes in gushes, especially when you stand up after sitting for a while. The pads with wide crotches and “continuous” wings caught even the biggest gushes. I’m not worried about trimness when it comes to postpartum pads, so I chose the ones that were nice and thick in the middle for the first few days of bleeding.
I bought a few pairs of “scrundies” from Melissa’s Makes to wear with my postpartum pads, and they’ve become my favourite regular undies too. They’ve got a nice, soft waistband and a nice full bum, and I quickly ditched my one pair of mesh panties in favour of my favourite print scrundies and my biggest, baddest pad about an hour after giving birth.
Something I hadn’t considered about postpartum pads is that nurses usually want to check your pad to make sure your bleeding is normal. Disposable pads are white, so this is easy. Most of the pads in my postpartum stash are dyed dark colours or have prints, so my nurse really couldn’t see my blood. Being a third- and fourth-time mom, I was confident that my bleeding was normal, and my nurse trusted me. (She was also really impressed with the pads.) If it’s your first birth, you may want to consider choosing light coloured pads without prints so you and your care provider can better assess how much you are bleeding.
If you’re wondering how to wash your pads, read this tutorial.
All prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise specified.
Pads for Extra Heavy Postpartum Bleeding
Composition: Hand-dyed bamboo velour top layer; bamboo, cotton or zorb inner core; fleece backing
Length: 11″ – 18″
Price: $19 – $28
If ever there was a pad to replace the mesh undies and the jumbo super maxi disposable pads most pregnant women stock up on before birth, it is Homestead Emporium’s MegaMax Pad. This baby is 18″ long, about 4″ wide when wrapped around your underwear, and the large flare-out at the back is 8″ wide. This is the pad I put on, inside a pair of Melissa’s Makes scrundies, once I was ready to change out of my mesh panties. (I wasn’t about to argue when my nurse helped me into the classic mesh panty-jumbo paper pad combo as I stepped out of the shower.)
The core of zorb in the contoured centre of the pad is fast-absorbing—perfect for those first postpartum gushes. I was confident and comfortable with my MegaMax both in my hospital bed and plodding over to the NICU to see my babes and feed them for the first time.
All of my Homestead Emporium pads were in heavy rotation during that first heavy week. The extra width at the crotch and absorbent wings meant even if I felt a gush as I stood up from my chair in the NICU, I didn’t fear a leak. I was eager to keep washing them so I could use them again and again.
Verdict: Initial heavy postpartum flow approved, especially for lying down! The Megamax is the only pad you’d want to wear immediately after giving birth!
Composition: bamboo, minky or cotton jersey top layer; bamboo fleece core; windpro fleece backing
Price: USD $15
I loved these super pretty and super comfy pads! The bamboo velour topped pad was my favourite, but honestly they were all great. While less flared than some of the other pads I tested, I still found my Pink Lemonades offered enough front and back coverage. I’d classify Pink Lemonade’s postpartum pad design as a trim-feeling option that is still effective enough for a heavy postpartum flow.
Verdict: Initial heavy postpartum flow approved. I prefer the bamboo top layer.
Composition: Hand-dyed bamboo or minky top layer, zorb core with fleece backing.
Length: 7″ – 12″
Price: $47 – $55 for a sampler set
At 12″, the longest Tree Hugger pad didn’t feel adequate for the heaviest days in bed, but was definitely fine when I was sitting in the NICU. (And let’s face it, I spent a lot less time comfortably lying in bed after the twins were born than anticipated!)
The soft top layer was a welcome change from the sticky, plasticky yuck of a disposable pad that’s stuck to your labia after sitting for a while and that you subtly try to adjust. The smaller Tree Hugger pads were perfect as backup when my postpartum bleeding began to taper off.
Verdict: Daytime initial heavy postpartum flow approved (longest pad)
Composition: cotton top layer, two layers of zorb in the core, fleece backing, hidden layer of PUL
Price: $18 ($16 + $2 extra for hidden PUL layer)
Empire Lush makes period and postpartum bleeding PRETTY. There are prints for every occasion, and they’ll make you smile. The double layer of zorb with inner PUL and fleece backing make these beautiful creations bulletproof.
Verdict: Heavy postpartum flow approved.
Composition: Flannel cotton top, bamboo core, hidden PUL and fleece backing
Remember how I said I wanted extra surface area in the centre of my postpartum pads? Occupied Mind Creations delivers with its extra-wide design. Four layers of organic bamboo fleece in the core and a double whammy of hidden PUL and fleece makes this pad leak proof. I love the soft flannel top!
Verdict: Heavy postpartum flow approved. Love the soft flannel top!
Composition: 95% cotton, 5% spandex jersey top; microfibre core; 95% cotton, 5% spandex jersey backing
This pad screams reliability! LunaPads describes it as having the absorbency of four tampons. It has a patented dry-wicking cotton top, and the microfibre core is fast-absorbing. It’s got your back when you feel a major gush.
Available in purple, cream and black, I’d definitely recommend the cream colour fabric so it’s easy for you to assess your postpartum bleeding. The Performa Super Pad is a great option for your heaviest postpartum bleeding days.
LunaPads also sent a pair of their LunaPanties, which are underwear with built-in absorbency. Knowing I had these on during a long day at the NICU gave me extra peace of mind that any leaks would be caught. When my period comes back, I also have their inserts that fit inside these panties to test out.
For postpartum I was most comfortable pairing my LunaPanties with my snap-around pads, including the Performa.
Verdict: Heavy postpartum flow approved. Lunapanties give piece of mind!
Composition: minky, hidden organic bamboo fleece layers, fleece-backed, hiddne PUL layer
When I was talking with Harp Diapers about my postpartum flow needs, we determined that the required adjective for describing a reliable postpartum pad is … BEEFY. Those first few days, you want a beefy pad to back you up, and Harp’s postpartum pad delivers.
Verdict: Heavy postpartum flow approved. Really love the generous width!
Pads for Moderate Postpartum Flow
Composition: three layers of hemp/organic cotton, hidden waterproof layer, cotton backing
Price: $27.95 for 2
For my period, Öko pads are my number one choice. Once my postpartum bleeding is more like a medium-to-heavy flow period day, Öko’s heavy flow pads are my zero-waste solution par excellence! Although not marketed as postpartum pads, I had such success using my Ökos after Miss Cub’s birth (by about day 3 postpartum) that I stocked up on a few more this time around.
I find Öko pads so comfortable that I have been wearing their pantyliners on a daily basis for at least four years. Their heavy flow pads are simply a larger, equally comfortable cousin of the pantyliner. Just like for diapering, I find hemp to be the most absorbent natural fibre, and it also provides a stay-dry effect. The slim metal snaps on the wings mean less bulk between your legs, and the cotton backing means the pads don’t slide around in your undies. Öko’s heavy flow pads are effective but still discreet enough to wear under leggings, so on those later postpartum days when you’re not sure if you’ll bleed, you can slap one of these babies on and circumvent the panic when you feel an unexpected gush while waiting in the supermarket line!
Verdict: Daytime medium flow approved. My favourite daily-use pad for postpartum and menstruation!
Composition: Cotton top layer, zorb core and fleece backing
With a fast-absorbing core, this pad is a great medium-flow option for days. I really like the wide flares at the front and back. The price point makes it a great workhorse option after the initial super heavy flow.
Verdict: Daytime medium-flow approved.
Composition: Bamboo-cotton throughout with polyester backing
Price: $24 for 2
These hourglass-shaped pads are marketed for overnight use and not specifically for postpartum bleeding.
I found the centre of these pads too narrow, even though I am fairly petite. Because the wings of these pads are not absorbent, any overflow doesn’t stand a chance of being caught. I didn’t feel like I had enough coverage, widthwise, for the big gushes. That said, for a smaller lady who finds some of the other postpartum or overnight pads make them waddle, these would be the perfect fit. While not my first choice for heavy postpartum days, I found my Omaiki pads suitable for daytime use by week two post partum.
Verdict: Daytime medium-flow approved.
Composition: organic cotton, polyester backing
Price: $32.95 for one waterproof liner and three snap-on absorbent pads
Bummis’ Heavy Fabulous Flo pad has a unique design among all the pads I tested. A 3-pack comes with one PUL liner that snaps around your underwear and three absorbent inserts that snap onto the pad. If you cloth diaper, it’s reminiscent of an “all-in-two” diaper: you change the absorbent insert but not the waterproof portion.
To counteract the slippery PUL backing, these pads feature non-slip tape that keeps them perfectly in place. The snap-on insert concept is an interesting one, and the main issue I found was that I would want to change my pad but the clean inserts would be in the upstairs bathroom instead of the downstairs one, or vice versa. (Postpartum pro-tip: keep a stash of fresh pads in all the bathrooms you use during the day!)
Verdict: Daytime medium-flow approved.
If postpartum pads are your first foray into cloth pads, don’t be intimidated by the price point. You will be able to use your postpartum pads for menstruation too! The larger, most absorbent pads will become your overnight pads, and the trimmer ones will be for daytime.
In terms of how many pads you’ll need, I’d recommend at least twelve pads. I found I was doing laundry daily at first, so I would throw any used pads in with whatever else I was washing so I didn’t run out. If you want to wear cloth right from the start (or perhaps immediately after your first pair of mesh undies with disposable pad), definitely buy some of Homestead Emporium’s MegaMax pads for when you’re in bed and bleeding heavily. Their largest pad is four inches longer than any of the other pads I tested, and you want that coverage up your backside when you’re lying down.
There was not a single pad I tested that underperformed, so building your ideal stash will come down to price, preferred materials and shape. I love bamboo minky like Homestead Emporium and Öko’s hemp the best, but this is a pretty subjective preference.
Overall, the benefits of cloth pads go beyond waste reduction. Although not immediate, you will save money in the long run because you can use your pads for menstruation, future pregnancies and even resell them.
Cloth postpartum pads are infinitely more comfortable than plasticky, papery disposable pads, which are hot and sticky. If you have stitches, you’ll really appreciate sitting on a fluffy pillow of soft fabric. And remember, you can even use your cloth pads to make padsicles!