Cloth Nursing Pads

Webster’s Dictionary defines frugal:  “characterized by or reflecting ECONOMY in the use of resources.”  Our nation’s economy is in trouble.  My wallet doesn’t have to be if I choose wisely and with economy.

Last Tuesday I wrote about sewing, cleaning, and storing cloth napkins.  Many readers were excited about that topic, so I thought I’d follow up with another “cloth something” post.

One of the best gifts I ever received was a sewing machine, followed by lots of good advice on how to use it.  Many thanks to my mother- and father-in-law for the machine, and to both moms for their expert advice! 

WARNING!  This post is completely girly, if the title didn’t give it away.  If you’re one of the guys who might be reading this, don’t worry.  There aren’t any gory details – just how to sew circles together. 

Riley nursed happily for 9 1/2 months before self-weaning when he was good and ready (he’s always had his own time table for progress).  Those months taught me valuable lessons which I’m excited to use with Baby #2 in a few months. 

I learned that disposable nursing pads, while convenient and thin, are potentially hazardous to a woman’s health.  The companies that profit from our love of convenience are hardly going to be the ones to say, “HEY LISTEN UP!  If you wear our products you can more easily develop sores and breast infections!  Yee HA!”  (oh yeah, sorry – no gory details.  That wasn’t too bad, was it?)

Thank you to Gayle, the incredible nurse who taught me this fact.

Right at my fingertips were these little treasures that I could use, throw in my regular laundry, and reuse as often as necessary.  I’m really not a hippie.  I just like to find the highest quality option at the best price, and that often means ignoring advertising.

My first time through breastfeeding, I used store-bought cloth nursing pads, white handkerchiefs (a personal favorite), and flour sack towels, cut into strips and folded to size.

The flour sack towels, which can be purchased super cheap at Walmart or similar stores, made the best homemade nursing pads.  Old white T-shirts from my hubby’s stash were a close second, although they didn’t lie flat as easily.  Too stretchy.

Here’s the process I tried.  May yours be shorter if you’re in the market for these things:

1. Tried cutting strips out of men’s white T’s.

2. Folded them down to size and pinned them together.

3. Sewed several together before realizing they’d be pretty visible through clothing, given their shape.  These will be good for night time 🙂  Hacked several into circles and serged them together.  These looked much better.

Starting over…

1. Decided to move on to the flour sack towels (hereafter known as FST’s).

2. Spent time folding and sewing like before…until I realized all I had to do was cut out several circles and stitch them together.  Duh.

(Should have used a brown paper cut-out, but used a pre-made nursing pad instead.  It is now covered in Sharpie.  Learn from my mistakes, readers.)

3. Created large stacks of FST circles, leaving behind scrappy remnants.  Anyone have ideas for how to use these?

4. Tried both a zigzag stitch and serging, trying to get these crazy things to lie flat.  Zigzag worked/looked fine, but serging created a more thorough finish.

5. In the end, the very simple process went as follows:

Put together 6 FST circles.

Use a straight stitch all the way around, about 1/4″ in from the edge.

Serge (or zigzag) all the way around, attempting to line up the stitching.

Done!  Toss it in your collection and make another one!

My goal was to have a nice finished collection before the baby was born.  Go me!

From left: hankies, homemade round pads, homemade square pads, store-bought pads.

Hopefully this will free up a little more time in my day, as I won’t have to fold ratty-looking FST strips every time I have to change pads.

They may be a mish-mash of styles and material, but who cares?  They’ll be hidden! Many of them were free and upcycled (recycled into something of greater value rather than getting tossed in the trash).  And my body won’t be prone to infection by wearing what some big company said I “have to have.” 

Cloth nursing pads get softer and better with age.  They’re like the fine wine of breastfeeding.  🙂  Whether you sew your own or buy them pre-made, I encourage you to make the investment for your own sake, or for someone you know who could use them.

Check: One Converse shoebox full of ready-to-wear nursing pads.  Bring on the baby!


8 thoughts on “Cloth Nursing Pads

  1. Use those scraps to stuff a sock toy for your wee one. 😉 Inspiring. Makes me realize… I really need to get on sewing the new tabs on my BG diapers…

    • Hey there, Mrs. Woolley! Good to hear from you! I love the sock toy idea! That could use up some yarn scraps too for things like hair. Excellent! By the way, what are BG diapers? Sounds like cloth diapers, but is “BG” a brand?

      • Bum Genius. They’ve lasted through two babies, but the velcro tabs need replacing for Woolley #4.

  2. That’s awesome Charlyn! I’ve heard a lot of good things about that brand. I can’t wait to see pictures of Woolley #4. (And I absolutely INSIST on meeting your kiddos before everyone’s all grown up!)

  3. I am very impressed. My problem though, is the cloth kind get soaked in about 2 seconds flat for me, so I ended up always buying the disposable kinds. If you can invent a super-soaker one, let me know (think fountains of milk at the merest thought of a baby maybe wanting to nurse).

    • Hm. That does present a problem. I do go through a lot more in the beginning stages, before things seem to even out for me. If the disposables aren’t giving you infections, etc., that’s good – I’m glad they’re working for you. We need a waterproof shell like the kind for cloth diapers… I wonder if that would help. I love your candor… 🙂 That same issue sure surprised me at first.

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