As wonderful as breastfeeding is, it also comes with its fair share of messiness. Breast pads are one of the most convenient accessories for nursing moms, because they keep the mess to a minimum by soaking up any inevitable leaks. Of course, wondering how often you should wash your nursing pads is a common question on every nursing mom’s mind if she opts for reusable pads. Unlike nursing bras, which don’t get quite as dirty and wet, your breast pads see much more action and, therefore, will probably need to be washed more often than your nursing bras.
Of course, if you’re using disposable nursing pads, you simply switch them out at the first sign of fullness. Reusable, cloth nursing pads, however, require a bit more care. According to Mother and Child Health, a mother should wash her nursing pads at the first signs of dampness. This will be different for each mom and different in each phase of nursing, since some mothers experience much more leaking than others and leaking generally lessens as your milk supply regulates.
According to Eco Nursing Pads, aside from being lighter on your budget, reusable nursing pads also helps lessen the amount of waste you create since you won't have to throw away your (likely plastic-based) nursing pads after only a few hours. There are a wide selection of reusable nursing pads made from a variety of materials like cotton, bamboo, silicone and more. The material that you choose will determine how quickly your pad becomes wet as well which is another or to consider when you decide to wash them.
Changing your nursing pads often is about more than comfort (although wearing soaking wet pads is definitely uncomfortable). According to La Leche League International (LLLI), nursing pads are common culprits for bacteria growth and yeast infections, as the moist, warm environment is the perfect area for the stuff to grow.
Although reusable nursing pads require a bit more effort than their disposable counterparts, the extra washing isn't much of a hassle when you consider their positive impacts on your body, the environment, and your budget. Ensuring that you wash your nursing pads often and keep them as dry as possible will keep you comfortable and safe as you breastfeed.