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Postpartum bleeding is bleeding after giving birth. Similar bleeding can also occur following a pregnancy loss or abortion. Postpartum maternity pads can help people manage this bleeding.

Most healthcare providers recommend against inserting menstrual cups or tampons into the vagina following birth because of the increased risk of infection. Maternity pads are a safer option, as they can make postpartum bleeding more manageable without irritating a person’s tears or stitches.

This article lists the best postpartum pads and provides tips on choosing. We also provide information on when to see a doctor about postpartum bleeding.

Medical professionals use the term lochia to describe the discharge that the body produces after childbirth. Lochia is a mix of mucus, blood, and tissue from the uterus as it returns to its normal size and starts to heal. Most people bleed for several weeks following childbirth, although the heaviest bleeding usually stops within 1–2 weeks.

As the bleeding slows, it may appear to be brown blood or yellowish discharge. A person may also alternate between spotting and bleeding, which is typical.

However, it is not healthy for a person to bleed so heavily that they soak through multiple pads in an hour or stop bleeding for several days and then begin bleeding heavily again. In these cases, a person should immediately speak to a doctor or midwife.

Learn more about what to expect from postpartum bleeding here.

Investing in a few different types of maternity pads is a good idea. If one feels uncomfortable or leaks, it is worth switching brands or trying a higher absorbency product. The right pad will absorb bleeding without irritating skin.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best thin pad: Stayfree Ultra Thin

Stayfree claims that this pad is thin, discrete, and absorbent.

The pad has wings to keep it secure, and has a soft outer layer that will not snag stitches.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: The manufacturer describes the pad as ultra-thin yet capable of providing overnight protection from the following:
    • period flow
    • bladder leakage
    • discharge
  • Materials: “ultra-soft” cotton-like cover.
  • Sizes: Extra-wide coverage, with adhesives to secure the pad to panties.
  • Pricing: $29.97 for a 40-count package.

Best for catching leaks: Always Maxi

The Always Maxi pad has a highly absorbent core and wings to help contain leaks during physical activity and sleep.

The pad is also fragrance-free, with a soft outer layer that will not irritate stitches or delicate tissue.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Rated very effective for overnight use and heavy flow.
  • Materials: Engineered to:
    • absorb flow twice as quickly as other pads
    • lock in leaks
    • stay in place
  • Sizes: The back side of the pad is twice as large as other pads to prevent nighttime leaks.
  • Pricing: $34.99 for a package of 108.

Best cloth pad: Tree Hugger Organic Night PostPartum Pads

Cloth pads are a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to disposable pads.

Some people also use cloth pads because disposable pads irritate their skin.

Tree HuggerOrganic Night PostPartum Pads are available in a variety of bright colors. The bamboo-based cloth is washable, odor resistant, and easily folds to fit discreetly into a purse.

The manufacturer recommends purchasing 12 pads, which should last a person 1-3 days. A person can then wash and reuse the pads.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Postpartum bleeding, heavy flow, and overnight wear.
  • Materials: An ultra-soft, smooth bamboo velour top with a water-repellent fleece backing.
  • Sizes: 12” long by 3” wide.
  • Pricing: $44 for two.

Best cooling pad: Frida Mom Instant Ice Maxi Pads

Frida Mom’s Instant Ice Maxi Pads have a high absorbency and may ease postpartum pain with a cooling effect.

The outer layer is soft and highly absorbent, preventing leaks without irritating birth injuries.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Each pad absorbs 260 g of liquid and features “crack and cool” technology that provides 20 minutes of cold therapy.
  • Materials: The pad provides maximum absorbency and has a super-soft top layer for the perineal area. There is also a cold therapy option for people with a c-section incision.
  • Sizes: Full front-to-back perineal coverage.
  • Pricing: $19.99 for eight.

Best for heavier bleeding and budget: Medline Perineal Cold Packs

Medline’s perineal cold packs offer the same benefits as the Frida Mom pads but are slightly bulkier. This design makes them a good option for people in early postpartum days or those dealing with heavier bleeding.

Available at a slightly lower price point than Frida Mom pads, Medline packs are a budget-friendly option for use immediately after childbirth.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Provides absorbency and cold therapy within a single product, making them particularly helpful in the first 36-48 hours after delivery.
  • Materials: Highly absorbent pads.
  • Sizes: Each pad measures 4.5” by 14.25”.
  • Pricing: $60.99 for a pack of 24.

Best for post-cesarean: Always Discreet Boutique Incontinence & Postpartum Underwear

This disposable underwear is soft and stretchy, making it comfortable for people with vaginal injuries or stitches from a cesarean delivery. The underwear is comfortable and features a built-in pad with high absorbency.

Wearing highly absorbent incontinence and postpartum underwear means a person can avoid the discomfort and inconvenience of continually changing pads.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Comfortable and convenient for managing postpartum bleeding and soreness.
  • Materials: Soft and stretchy material which is helpful for a person with stitches.
  • Sizes: Available in S/M, curve-hugging, and high-rise design, for a person weighing 115-190 lbs.
  • Pricing: $19.97 for a pack of 20.

Best organic pad: Organyc 100% Certified Organic Cotton Pads

For people who would prefer an organic pad but do not want to use reusable cloth pads, Organyc’s 100% cotton pads are a great alternative.

There are no harmful additives, and the soft outer layer will not irritate any birth injuries or sensitive skin. The pads are also highly absorbent.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Organic, absorbent, and disposable pads for people with sensitive skin or birth injuries.
  • Materials: 100% organic cotton, with a biodegradable back sheet of corn starch. The pads do not contain chlorine bleach, latex, plastics, or perfumes.
  • Sizes: 3.7” x 2.91” x 4.48”.
  • Pricing: $4.19 for a pack of 10.

Best period underwear for postpartum: Thinx Super Hi-Waist

Thinx reusable period underwear is another environmentally friendly option.

The Super Hi-Waist design is comfortable after cesarean delivery and can absorb up to four tampons’ worth of blood.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Comfortable and capable of holding up to 5 regular tampons worth of flow, making them suitable for postpartum use.
  • Materials: A polyester gusset with a polyamide and elastane body.
  • Sizes: Range from XXS – 4X.
  • Pricing: $35.

Best for healing: The Honey Pot Company Organic Cotton Cover Postpartum Pads

These hypoallergenic maternity pads have a 100% organic cotton cover around a pulp core that the manufacturers describe as “ultra-absorbent.”

They contain aloe, mint, and lavender essential oils to help cool, soothe, and heal after giving birth.

Many users find the oils soothing and appreciate the fresh herbal scent. However, the oils could be irritating for some.

Other key product details include:

  • Uses: Providing cooling and healing with essential oils while absorbing leaks.
  • Materials: A 100% organic cotton cover with a pulp core and essential oils.
  • Sizes: 13” long, with wings to control leaks.
  • Pricing: $8.99 for 12 pads.

The table below compares the products in this article on key features:

BestPricesQuantity per packPrice per padSize
Stayfreethin pad$29.974035 centsThin
Always Maxifor leaks$34.9910833 centsLonger and wider
Tree Huggercloth pad$442$22 per reusable pad12” long by 3” wide
Frida Momcooling pad$19.998About $2.50Full front to back perineal coverage
Medlinefor heavier bleeding$60.9924$2.544.5” by 14.25”
Alwaysfor post-cesarean$19.972099 centsS/M,
curve-hugging and high-rise design, for a person weighing 115-190 lbs.
Organycorganic pads$4.1910About 42 cents3.7” x 2.91” x 4.48”
Thinxperiod underwear for postpartum$351$35 per reusable pairXXS – 4X
The Honey Potfor healing$8.9912About 75 cents per pad13” long, with wings

The best maternity pads will vary from person to person and even from birth to birth for the same person. People interested in finding the best maternity pads could purchase a few different kinds to see which best suits their specific needs.

Some different features to consider include:

  • Softness: People should choose a pad that will be gentle on the perineal area.
  • Absorbency: Postpartum flow is typically heavier than period flow, especially during the early stages.
  • Pain management: Childbirth can cause swelling and soreness and may result in stitches for some people. Some may prefer maternity pads that provide cooling therapy or other soothing properties.
  • Size: Full coverage helps prevent leaks.
  • Materials: People may prefer an eco-friendly pad made from organic and sustainable materials.
  • Disposable vs. reusable: Some people may prefer disposing of panties and pads rather than washing them out. Others may prefer reusable products for environmental reasons.
  • Stability: People should look for pads that will stay in place and prevent leakage. Pads with wings may offer additional security.

Most people find that their bleeding gets lighter with time.

In some cases, bleeding may increase about 2–3 weeks after delivery. Generally, the uterus is not adequately healed at this stage, so even bleeding that has become light may become heavier again. It is important that people refrain from excessive physical activity and allow time for the body to heal.

It is possible to have a hemorrhage days or weeks after giving birth. Doctors refer to this potentially life-threatening occurrence as postpartum hemorrhage.

A person should call a doctor or midwife if they experience the following:

  • bleeding that stops completely for a day or more, and then starts again
  • soaking through more than one pad per hour for more than 2 hours
  • passing a clot larger than a golf ball
  • a foul smell from the vagina

The following are signs that a person requires emergency medical attention:

  • passing many large clots within a short period
  • rapidly soaking through each pad in 15 minutes or less
  • feeling or noticing blood pouring out of the vagina
  • symptoms, such as confusion, lightheadedness, or fainting

People should be clear and specific about their symptoms. This may include stating the number of pads they have soaked or even taking the pads to the hospital or clinic, where possible.

Learn more about postpartum bleeding here.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the postpartum bleeding and maternity pads:

How long will you bleed after birth?

Most women bleed after giving birth. It is common to bleed for four to six weeks following childbirth, but a person can bleed for up to 12 weeks.

How many maternity pads do you need?

A person should change their maternity pad when it is full. The heaviness of the flow will determine how often a person needs to change pads.

In the first few days after giving birth, a person may need to change pads every one to two hours. As the flow tapers off, the need for changes will diminish.

The total number of pads a person needs will depend on:

  • how much they bleed at first
  • how quickly the bleeding tapers off
  • how long the discharge continues

General estimates for how many maternity pads a person will need to start with range from 24-36. Since the nature of the discharge will change over time, a person may choose to switch from a more absorbent pad to a slimmer one.

Postpartum pads can help to manage postpartum bleeding without aggravating vaginal tears or stitches. Manufacturers provide a range of options, including disposable and reusable pads, ultra-absorbent pads, and cooling pads.

Finding the right maternity pad or underwear requires some trial and error. Many people find that combining pads and absorbent underwear offers the most comfortable protection.

Hospitals and birth centers often give away pads and other supplies. A person can ask about taking some of these home with them when they leave.