During pregnancy, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone are released, prompting your milk ducts to mature and grow in order to produce milk to nourish your baby. Breast changes are usually one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, and milk production can begin as early as 16 weeks.
You may not notice that your boobs are already functioning as a dairy, unless you happen to squeeze a nipple, or you may find that your nipples are leaking. If you weren’t aware of the possibility of it happening, this may take you by surprise!
Producing milk while pregnant is perfectly normal, and the amounts created are usually tiny, but if you are concerned that the milk may leak through your clothes, you may want to invest in some protection.
At least one of the Bounty packs you’re likely to receive when pregnant will contain disposable pads. This is no accident. Many women are unwittingly herded down the disposable route without realising that there are other options!
Disposable pads are very thin and flimsy, which means that they are discreet, but they have a habit of folding or rolling up inside the bra, especially during the night. Often, the sticky tab, which is meant to adhere to the cup of the bra to keep it in position, ends up stuck anywhere but!
On the plus side, they are very small, often come individually wrapped, and can therefore easily be popped into a handbag, or even a purse.
Washable nipple pads made from cotton or bamboo fabric usually come in packs of 6 or so, with a little mesh laundry bag for keeping them safe in the washing machine, and they are just popped in with your regular washing. One of the beauties of reusable pads is that they will last you through however many pregnancies you choose to have.
The main advantage of washable pads over disposable, aside from their cost effectiveness and sustainability, is that they tend to be more substantial than disposable pads. This means that they don’t roll up or move around much while you’re wearing them.
They’re only marginally bigger than a disposable pad, though, so could still be carried in a handbag easily.
Washable pads also tend to be more absorbent. In reality, the quantity of milk lost during pregnancy isn’t usually that large, so washables don’t offer a massive benefit over disposables at this point, however, if you invest in washables during pregnancy, you will then have them for use while breastfeeding, at which point the greater absorbency might be welcome while you wait for your supply to establish and settle down.
Reusable Silicone Pads
There is a third breast pad option which is even less well known – reusable silicone breast pads.
These are more expensive than the fabric version, but are equally long lasting, and offer a different solution to the problem.
These work by a bump on the pad indenting the nipple just slightly into the breast which prevents any milk from escaping (a useful tip when feeding; if the baby suddenly unlatches and you start spraying everywhere – just lightly put pressure on your nipple so that it indents into the breast and no more can escape!). This means that if worn correctly, there is no potential for a pad to get saturated and leak, as no milk is being released. If this has happened to you, you might find the no-release solution reassuring!
The outer surface is smooth to the touch, and the inner surface has a rubbery, almost sticky feel, which helps them to adhere to the breast; they tend to stay attached even once the bra is removed, but I’m not sure I’d trust them enough to go bra-less!
They are one-size, which usually is a no-no when you’re plus-size, but Big Birtha’s GG cups had no problems with fit. Obviously everyone’s boobs are individual, though, so you might want to buy them from somewhere with a good returns policy, just in case.
Silicone pads tend to be more expensive than the absorbent options, but if cared for properly they should see you through all your pregnancies, and because they do not need to hold any fluid they are thinner than both washable and disposable pads and very discreet. Like disposables however, this thinness made them liable to rolling up at night, so if you’re a fidget in your sleep, you might want to reserve them for daytime use.
After wearing, you simply wash them under warm water, and leave them to dry naturally. They usually come with some sort of case to contain them, which makes them a little bulkier to carry in a handbag (they’d be wrecked in no time if you just chucked them loose in your bag) but not prohibitively so.
So, leaky boobs, no problem!
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