What’s the Difference Between Maternity Pads and Sanitary Pads?

20 February 2024  |  Admin

The main difference between maternity pads and sanitary pads is that maternity pads tend to be longer, thicker and more absorbent.

They are also made with different, softer top material, to be gentler against your vulva and any stitches you may have, rather than the plastic top layer of traditional disposable sanitary pads and panty liners.

However if you're looking for a super comfortable AND eco friendly maternity pad, it's worth considering reusable maternity pads.

Here at Cheeky Wipes, we know a LOT about reusable pads. After we launched our bestselling reusable baby wipes kit back in 2008, the next product we developed was reusable pads.

It's fair to say that I detest disposable maternity pads. Aside from being uncomfortable and itchy, I had a very unfortunate experience with them 2 weeks after the birth of my first son, when my bleeding was still extremely heavy.

We had just moved into a new house (obviously fantastic planning with a 2 week old) and I emptied my bin full of maternity towels into a bin bag late at night in time for rubbish collection the following morning.

It wasn't until the following afternoon when I went to bring the bin back in that I realised that at some point a fox or the seagulls had gotten into the bin bag.

My soiled maternity pads were scattered all over the pavement in front of my house and the house next door. I was absolutely mortified!

In this post, we'll look further at the differences between maternity pads, regular sanitary towels and reusable pads to help you make an informed choice for a comfortable recovery.

Shop Reusable Maternity Pads

Maternity Pads vs Sanitary Pads

Maternity pads, also called postpartum pads, are made for the postpartum bleeding, known as lochia, that can happen for weeks after childbirth. Whether you have a C-section or not, bleeding will still occur after giving birth because it originates from the spot where the placenta was connected to the uterus.

Tampons and internal period protection aren't suitable for this as they can increase the risk of infection.

Let’s look at the differences between maternity pads and sanitary pads:

Absorbency and Thickness

Maternity pads are typically much thicker and more absorbent than standard sanitary pads. This is because postpartum bleeding can be quite heavy in the days post birth. Maternity pads are designed to handle this increased flow and provide adequate protection.

Initially you may need to change your pad every hour, however because reusable pads are super absorbent, this is not required as frequently.

Length and Coverage

One of the most noticeable differences between maternity pads and sanitary pads is their length and coverage. Maternity pads are usually extra long to provide coverage much further back than usual pads.

This is essential during the postpartum period when you may notice heavy bleeding which can also be more unpredictable.

Softness and Comfort

Maternity pads are generally much softer than traditional pads. Given that the vulva and vagina can be painful and sensitive postpartum, maternity pads are usually made from softer materials to minimize irritation and provide maximum comfort.

Cheeky Bamboo Maternity pads are made from supersoft bamboo charcoal which has been described as 'sitting on a cloud' by recovering mothers!

Shop Postpartum Pants

Discreetness and Convenience

While both types of pads absorb blood, maternity pads are generally bulkier and less discreet compared to sanitary pads.

However, this trade-off is necessary to provide adequate protection during the postpartum period. Additionally, some maternity pads come with adhesive strips to secure them in place, offering added convenience for new mothers.

Period Pants are a great alternative to wearing bulkier pads and you can wear heavy flow period pants alone or in combination with reusable pads for comfortable, discreet protection.

"These are great. I used them post partum and will use them when my periods start again as well. A bit pricey, but then you’re saving lots in the long run on tampons or pads etc.

Very comfy and discreet and waaay better than wearing a pad. A game changer." Trustpilot Review

Can I Use Sanitary Pads as Maternity Pads?

No, it isn't recommended that you use disposable sanitary pads as maternity pads. However it is possible to use reusable pads for heavy flow or night time use as super absorbent maternity pads. That's because they are already longer and wider, extra absorbent and comfier than ANY disposable pad.

They're also an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to disposable pads, which can be used when your periods return again after the post partum period.

"Happy with the service and advice I received from the questionnaire I had taken to help me decide on the products I needed for my new born. I purchased the all in one kit, 25 trial wipe set and the Maternity & Postpartum High-waisted Control Pants for a great deal :)" Joanna, Trustpilot

If you're considering buying maternity pads for your hospital bag and are considering reusable pads or pants but have questions, please do get in touch. The team have all used the products themselves and nothing is TMI!

Alternatively, if you found this article helpful and would like further reading, you may enjoy these:

About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, internal period protection such as tampons or menstrual cups were no longer an option for her and she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants and reusable sanitary pads.

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.



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