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Maternity pads

Pregnant woman sat on grey sofa holding a silver tablet
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Many women experience bleeding after birth, this is perfectly normal and a natural part of pregnancy. Your body is simply getting rid of the blood and tissue that is no longer needed to nourish your baby. Maternity pads are very much like sanitary towels, as they will help to soak up the blood and protect you from leaks. Other maternity pads include nursing pads; these will help stop any breast milk from soaking through to your clothes.

Why do I need to use maternity pads?

After giving birth it’s common for you to experience vaginal bleeding and discharge, even if you have had a caesarean. This is known as lochia, and the bleeding comes from the area where the placenta was attached. Your body is getting rid of any additional blood and tissue that nourished your baby and is no longer needed.

How long do you bleed after having a baby?

During the first 10 days after birth the bleeding will be heavier and may include some blood clots, however this should ease over a number of days. By day three or four your bleeding may become watery and pink in colour, the more active you are the more blood you will notice. This is because the movement helps to dislodge the blood and tissue within your womb. You may experience light bleeding and spotting up to six weeks after birth.

If you chose to breastfeed you will find that your bleeding is heavier when you are feeding your baby. This is because breastfeeding causes your uterus (womb) to contract which in turn pushes out more blood and tissue from your uterus. You may also feel pain similar to period cramps.

How often do you need to change your maternity pads?

After giving birth you may need to change your pad every hour or every two hours, depending on the amount of blood that is coming out of your vagina. Over the next few days after birth your flow should lighten and you will find that you won’t need to change your maternity pads as often. Although it is recommended that you bath or shower at least once a day to prevent any infections and to keep any stiches or inflammation clean.

What are the best maternity pads?

There are many maternity pads on the market, all with different features and materials which may make them more suited to you. For example some pads are enriched with aloe Vera for extra comfort and offer soothing relief, while other maternity pads come with wings to keep them securely in place. It may take a bit of trial and error before you find the right pads for you, and as your flow changes so will the absorbency of the pads that you need.

Can I use sanitary towels instead?

Compared to sanitary pads maternity pads are much longer, thicker and softer. They have been designed to be more absorbent and gentle on your skin compared to sanitary products. Even if you used tampons before your birth it is best not to use tampons after you have given birth as this could lead to infection. When your periods start again then you can use tampons if you prefer them over pads.

What are nursing pads?

Nursing pads or breast pads are worn under your bra against your breast and they stop milk leaking onto your clothing. Whether you chose to breastfeed or bottle feed your breast will produce milk after you have given birth, you might find that your nipples will leak small amounts of milk throughout the day. Nursing pads are super absorbent and can help you to stay dry, comfortable by soaking up any leaked milk.

  • What should I pack in my hospital bag?

    If you’re planning to give birth in a hospital you will want to pack a bag full of things to help you feel comfortable and prepared during and after labour.

    Some of the things you will want to pack include:

    • Something comfortable to wear during labour
    • Breast and maternity pads
    • Supportive bras
    • Towels
    • Toiletries
    • Going home clothes for you and the baby
    • Nappies
    • Sleepsuits, blankets and a hat for the baby
  • When will my period start after I have a baby?

    Everyone is different and it can be hard to pinpoint exactly when your periods will start again. If you bottle feed or combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding your period could start five or six weeks after birth. However if you breastfeed your periods may not start again until you stop breastfeeding. This is because the hormone that causes your body to make milk can also stop you from having periods.

  • Will I need to use maternity pads if I have had a C-section?

    Yes, even if you have had a caesarean birth you may experience vaginal bleeding and discharge, as your body expels the blood and tissue that is no longer needed.