Friday, March 4, 2011

Functional, Not Fancy: Homemade Nursing Pads

It's been over four years since I had my son and I'm surprised by how much I've forgotten about those first weeks and months after birth.  I'm sure it will all come back to me as I do all of this baby stuff again, but I definitely feel a little rusty.

Take breastfeeding, for example, and all the changes that come with it. My sister-in-law just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a couple weeks ago and as we were talking about all things baby, the topic of nursing pads came up. I hadn't even thought about those in my preparations for baby #2. Suddenly, I remembered waking up to a big wet spot on my bed -- what inevitably happens when a lactating stomach-sleeper actually gets a few consecutive hours of sleep.  Not the ideal way to start your morning.

After talking to my sister-in-law, I went home and checked my hall closet -- I still have three Lansinoh disposable nursing pads left from my first go-round. Add those to the list of things to buy. Then I thought, "I wonder if I could just make some..." So, of course, I turned to the Internet, and, sure enough, there were plenty of instructions on how to make them. In fact, they're really, really, really easy to make. Better yet, instead of forking over $10 for a box of the disposable ones, I can make these ones for free because I just use scraps of fabric I already have. Plus, these homemade ones are softer and feel nice against the skin (I tested it out).

To make homemade nursing pads, you'll need:
  • Flannel -- I used an old, faded flannel receiving blanket someone gave me years ago.  You could also use flannel from a pair of worn-out pajamas or flannel sheets. Really, no one's going to see these, so use whatever you've got, I say. You could also go buy some flannel -- you won't need much. It all depends on how many you want to make.
  • Fleece -- Fleece is waterproof, so it will keep wetness away from your clothes. I had some extra fleece on hand from some project I can't remember. I don't even remember buying it. If you don't have some of this on hand, it is fairly inexpensive and you won't need much of this either (you use less fleece than you do flannel for these pads).
  • A CD, chalk/pen/pencil, scissors, thread, and a sewing machine 


On both the flannel and fleece, trace the edge of a CD and cut out.  This makes the nursing pad about five inches in diameter, which is pretty standard. If you need to adjust, feel free. I folded the material in half so I could cut two circles at a time.  For each nursing pad, you'll need one circle of fleece and three circles of flannel.  It sounds like a lot, but once you sew the layers together, it's pretty thin. You can also adjust the thickness of the pad depending on your needs -- one site I read suggested using the 3:1 ratio for nighttime use and to use 1-2 pieces of flannel on top of the piece of the fleece for the daytime.  I'm making mine all with the 3:1 ratio so I don't have to separate them and I can just grab one when I need it.

Note: I used this darker blue fleece for mine. Since the fleece is the part that faces out, light colored fabric is good if you're worried about the pads showing through your clothes. I'm not too worried about that since my bras are lined pretty well and I know the blue won't show through (again, tested it out). Plus, if history repeats itself, I'll only really wear these at night. In any case, it's something to consider.

Stack the three circles of flannel on top of the fleece.  You want one side of the finished pad to be flannel and the other side to be fleece.

Topstitch all around the edge of the pad, staying as close to the edge as possible while still catching all four layers. Follow that with a zig-zag stitch around the edge.


Trim off excess fabric and you're done. So easy. They're not much to look at, I'll admit, but I can tell they'll do the job. When you wear the nursing pad, you will have the flannel side touching your skin; the fleece will face out and protect your clothing, and, if you're like me, your sheets, too.

5 comments:

Markelle said...

and the good news is, if you suck at sewing no one will see them!


If you are like me, I hardly used any nursing pads with Miles. just didn't need em. but I definitely did with Jack!

Ellen said...

I made up some of these for my daughter. I did not zigzag because it was faster (and worked just as well) to use my serger and serge the edges.

Heather said...

More and more, I'm beginning to wish I had a serger. I'll bet it worked even better than the zigzag stitch -- hope they work as well for you daughter as they have for me!

Ellen said...

The serger worked wonderfully well and speeded up the process tremendously. It meant that I just cut a few misshapen "squares" for the flannel layers and the fleece, made the circle on the top flannel layer, and went at it.

Heidi said...

Thank you very much for posting. I had run out of disposable nursing pads and came across your blog. You are a life saver!!

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