How many postpartum pads do I need?

When it comes to postpartum pads after giving birth, it can be hard to know exactly how many you will need. The amount can vary quite a bit from woman to woman. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you estimate the number of pads you should have on hand.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about how many postpartum pads are needed:

  • For a vaginal delivery, you will likely need around 120-240 pads total.
  • For a C-section delivery, you may need up to 300 pads.
  • In the first couple days after delivery, you may go through 6-12 pads per day.
  • After the first week, you will likely need around 4-8 pads per day.
  • You should stock up on a mix of heavy flow and regular pads.
  • Having some overnight extra long pads is also recommended.
  • It’s better to have too many pads than not enough.

How Long Will I Bleed After Giving Birth?

The amount of bleeding after giving birth is known as lochia. This postpartum discharge contains blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. For the first few days after delivery, the lochia will appear heavy like a menstrual period and will typically be bright red. It may also contain some blood clots.

Over the next week or two, the flow should decrease and lighten in color to a pink, dark brown, or yellowish shade. This lighter lochia can persist for 2-6 weeks after having a baby as the uterus continues to shed its lining.

Some women may experience intermittent spotting and a return of heavier bleeding a few weeks postpartum as well. So it’s a good idea to continue using pads for 4-6 weeks after delivery just to be safe.

How Many Pads Per Day After Delivery?

The number of pads you’ll need each day varies throughout the postpartum period:

  • First 1-2 days: 12 or more pads per day. The flow is extremely heavy at this point.
  • Days 3-7: Around 6-12 pads per day as the bleeding starts decreasing but is still quite heavy.
  • Week 2: Approximately 4-8 pads per day. Flow should be lighter.
  • Weeks 3-6: 2-4 pads per day on average. Bleeding continues to taper off.

How Many Pads in Total After Delivery?

Based on the above estimates, here are some guidelines for the total number of pads needed postpartum:

  • Vaginal birth: You will likely need a minimum of 120 pads but having closer to 240 available is ideal.
  • C-section: C-section births tend to involve more bleeding so you may need upwards of 300 pads total.

However, keep in mind that this can vary significantly based on a number of factors:

  • How heavy your lochia flow is
  • If you have any complications like hemorrhaging
  • If you experience heavier secondary bleeding a few weeks later
  • How often you change your pads

Because of this variability, it’s always better to have more pads than you think you’ll need rather than running out. Getting through those first few days postpartum is challenging enough without having to worry about that!

What Types of Pads Do I Need After Birth?

Having a variety of pad styles and absorbencies is key. Here are some recommended options:

  • Heavy flow pads: Stock up on these for the first several days when your flow will be at its heaviest. Look for pads with a capacity of 10g or more.
  • Overnight/extra long pads: These provide extra coverage for nighttime and come in very heavy absorbencies. They’re useful in the first week or two postpartum.
  • Regular pads: After the initial heavy flow, regular absorbency pads around 5-7g are sufficient. Go for a mid-range size.
  • Panty liners: These are handy for light spotting and discharge later on or for use with postpartum cooling pads.

Having a mix of sizes, shapes, capacities, and brands can help you find the postpartum pads that work best for your needs at each stage after delivery.

Tips for Estimating How Many Pads You’ll Need

Here are some tips to help estimate the number of postpartum pads to have ready:

  • Buy a variety pack that contains pads of different absorbencies and lengths.
  • Start with purchasing 2-3 packs of heavy flow pads.
  • Have 5-7 packs of overnight and regular pads available.
  • Pick up a value size pack of liners for light days.
  • Ask friends how many they used and buy more than that.
  • Open new packs as needed but keep some unopened as backup.
  • Plan to buy more if you start running low in the first couple weeks.

Other Postpartum Supplies to Have

In addition to pads, here are some other essential postpartum supplies to have ready at home:

  • Mesh underwear – These are disposable, comfortable, and hold pads in place.
  • Peri bottle – Used to rinse and soothe after going to the bathroom.
  • Witch hazel pads – Provide cooling relief from swelling, pain, and itching.
  • High waisted underwear – For comfort and support while wearing pads.
  • Nursing pads – To absorb leaking breast milk when nursing.
  • Sitz bath – Used for soothing sitz baths to heal after vaginal birth.
  • Pain medication – Such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, numbing spray, etc.

Making sure you are fully stocked with pads, pain relief, comfort items, and other supplies will make recovering after childbirth much easier.

When to Change Postpartum Pads

Here are some tips on when to change postpartum pads after giving birth:

  • Change your pad every 2-4 hours, even if it doesn’t seem full. This prevents leakage and odor.
  • Change pads immediately if you feel any dampness or notice blood has leaked.
  • Use overnight pads at bedtime and change in the morning or if you wake to feed at night.
  • Alternate between heavy and regular pads as your flow decreases.
  • Double up and use pads with panty liners if worried about leaking.
  • Change pads after going to the bathroom to keep the area clean.

It’s important not to go too long between pad changes in order to avoid infections, hemorrhoids, and other complications. A good rule of thumb is if in doubt, change it out.

Signs You May Need More Pads

Here are some signs that you may need to pick up more postpartum pads:

  • You are almost out of pads within the first 1-2 weeks.
  • You are having to use more than 6-8 pads on heavy days.
  • Your overnight pads don’t last all night without leaking.
  • You are needing to double up pads frequently to control flow.
  • You are bleeding through onto your clothes or furniture.
  • Your lochia seems heavier or lasts longer than expected.

Every woman’s needs are different, so it’s important to monitor your own blood loss and restock pads as needed. Don’t wait until you’ve completely run out.

How to Save Money on Postpartum Pads

Since you will need so many pads after giving birth, the costs can really add up. Here are some tips to save money on postpartum pads:

  • Buy store brand pads instead of name brands.
  • Look for coupons and promo codes online before buying.
  • Purchase pads in bulk sizes or variety packs for a lower per-pad cost.
  • Join rewards programs at stores where you buy pads to earn discounts.
  • Shop sales and clearance racks for pads and liners.
  • Compare prices between stores and online retailers.
  • Consider making your own reusable cloth pads if you plan to have more children.

Taking advantage of lower prices and buying in bulk quantities can help minimize the costs of all those postpartum pads. Coupons and store rewards programs are especially useful if you have a preferred brand.


Why do I need postpartum pads vs regular pads?

Postpartum pads are larger, more absorbent, and specifically designed to handle the heavy bleeding after childbirth. They come in sizes and capacities meant for postpartum recovery. Regular pads aren’t able to absorb as much blood and moisture.

When can I stop using postpartum pads?

You can typically stop using postpartum pads once your vaginal bleeding has tapered off to light spotting, usually around 4-6 weeks after delivery. But always check with your doctor about when it’s safe to stop pad use based on your individual recovery.

What if I bleed through my pad?

It’s common to bleed through pads at first when your flow is heavy. Keep extras on hand to change immediately if this happens. Bleeding through can also signal that you may need a more absorbent pad. Overnight pads or doubling up on pads can help.

Do I need pads after a C-section?

Yes, you still bleed after a C-section just like a vaginal birth. In fact, blood loss may be even greater with a C-section, so having extra pads on hand is especially important.

Should I use maternity pads or regular pads postpartum?

Maternity pads are not as absorbent as postpartum pads. They’re meant for the lighter discharge during pregnancy rather than the heavy post-delivery bleeding. Postpartum pads are your best bet after having a baby.


Estimating how many postpartum pads you’ll need after giving birth can be difficult. But as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to go through a minimum of 120 pads after a vaginal delivery and up to 300 pads after a C-section. Having a variety of heavy flow and overnight pads as well as regular absorbencies will allow you to adjust to your changing needs in the 6 weeks after having a baby. Stock up so that you have more than enough, and be prepared to buy more if your bleeding is heavier than expected. With the right supplies, you’ll be able to focus on recovery and caring for your sweet newborn.

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