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Product Review: LilyPadz

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

As regular Lactivist readers know, I've been hunting down the perfect nursing pad since I had my son three months ago. I've tried quite a few disposable pads and have mentioned that Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads are by far my favorite. The problem is that I can't use Lansinoh pads at night when I'm not wearing a bra to hold them in place. With that in mind, I kept hearing about LilyPadz. After checking out their web site, I found myself intrigued. After all, who wouldn't love a nursing pad that lasted up to two months and that required no bra to hold it in place?

I tried contacting the LilyPadz team last month to see if they ever send out review products, but never did hear back from them. I would have ordered a pair online, but I hate adding 25% to the cost of a product in shipping. As it turned out, I spotted a box of LilyPadz in Motherhood a week later while picking up some nursing gear for a friend. For $20 and the potential of not having to buy nursing pads for two months, and of course, ;) for research purposes...I figured it was worth buying a set. After all, many of my regular readers have raved about LilyPadz in the comment section of my blog.

The Lactivist Says: Fantastic Concept, Didn't Work for Me

Pros:
No need for a nursing bra to hold the pads in place
Reusable = less landfill waste
Invisible under even the thinnest shirt

Cons:
If they fail, they fail horribly
Silicone isn't biodegradable
Didn't deliver as promised

Now, I'll start off by saying that LilyPadz are an example of why I never review a product the day I get it, or even a few days after I get it. Just like the shirt that looks perfect when you bring it home from the store, but that shrinks up as soon as it goes through the wash, some products go from "woo-hoo" to "ewww" in a matter of days. While LilyPadz didn't quite move to "eww" it did quickly move to "awww man!"

Here's the deal. I brought them home, got them out of the package and tried them out. They were fantastic. They're very easy to put on...picture a giant contact lens. You hold them flipped inside out (just like a contact) and then press the center to the tip of your nipple and sort of push in to flip them right side out (again, like putting on a contact.) They work by compressing the nipple so that no leakage occurs. In other words, instead of catching the leak, they prevent the leak. It's a pretty nifty concept and I found it to be highly effective. While I'd originally planned on getting them to use at night (and WOW are they handy at night when you don't want to wear a sleep bra) I found myself wearing them during the day as well.

Cleaning was also a breeze. You simply rinse them off with water and a mild soap and let them air dry. As soon as they're dry, the tacky comes back and they're ready to be used again. I found that they usually dried in about an hour, so it was easy enough to wear them every day.

The biggest benefit I could find to wearing them during the day was how inconspicuous they were. Even the thinnest nursing pad will sometimes show through a really fitted shirt. That wasn't a problem with LilyPadz though, they literally fit like a second skin. I also discovered how handy they were when it came time to nurse in public. Usually, as I'm unhooking everything, I have to find someplace to sit my nursing pad. Sometimes it's feasible to shove them into a pocket, but often times they end up sitting next to me and that just kinda icks me out. With LilyPadz, I found that I could peel them off and simply stick them on my stomach or on my chest between my breasts. It was pretty darn handy.

Thus, a week after buying LilyPadz I started talking them up to everyone I met. They were quickly securing their place on my mental list of "items to put in breastfeeding starter kits."

Then we hit week two.

Arg. As I said, I've found that sometimes what starts off great ends up...well...not so great. LilyPadz claim to last "up to two months" as long as you are washing them with mild soap and water. The problem was that that didn't seem to be the case with my set of LilyPadz. By day 9, I found that the tacky/stickiness of my LilyPadz was sorely compromised. I often noticed small air pockets when I tried to put them on. I even found myself wondering if maybe Motherhood was selling old boxes and that's what the problem was. I kept thinking that maybe it was the natural progression of "loss of stick" but to have this happen on day 9 for a product that should last up to 60 days?

That night, while nursing Emmitt at about 3am and relying on my LilyPadz to keep me from spraying out the other breast, I experienced my first "catastrophic failure" of the product. Apparently, that little air pocket (which appeared under the nipple, not overtop of it) filled up with some milk which then worked it's way past the rest of the tacky. Off popped the LilyPadz and I found myself with a nice half ounce of milk on my nightgown. *sigh* I got up and changed the nightgown, went to the bathroom to clean the LilyPadz off and went back to sleep sans Padz.

The next day I noticed that they really didn't seem to be sticking well at all. I washed them once more, but it seemed like the spot that had gotten milk on it simply would NOT clean. It's like the milk killed the tacky and it was never coming back. So, I retired the LilyPadz and went back to my Lansinoh disposables.

Until about five days later when I decided to give them one last shot. I'd washed them a few more times and it seemed like the tacky was coming back a bit. So I put them on, put on a nursing bra, got dressed and headed down to visit with the family. (At this point, I was at my parents for Christmas.) Enter catastrophic failure number two. :(

I was nursing Emmitt in my parent's living room while chatting with friends that were staying the night as well. They have a one year old son and he and Nora were having fun playing. All of a sudden my shirt felt REALLY warm. You guessed it, the LilyPadz quit on me again. I laughed (the friends have a one year old, she nursed for awhile, so thankfully, they get it) and asked mom to get me a towel. I finished nursing Emmitt with a towel under my shirt to keep myself from leaking through. Then I went upstairs to change. With the failure of the LilyPadz I had soaked through my nursing bra and the first layer of my shirt. If I hadn't snagged the towel I would have had a nice milk spot visible from the outside. I would NOT have been happy if I'd been out in public and had that happen.

So where does that leave things? Well...I still really liked LilyPadz. I think they're a great idea and if folks have had them last two months, then I'd say they are well worth the cost. Unfortunately, I can't justify spending $20 for a product that only lasted me 9 days and that twice caused me to "wet myself." I certainly don't think I'd trust them in public unless I first tried another pair that managed to work for at least a month or two before running into "loss of sticky" problems. That said, I'd still consider buying a pair JUST to use at night. I'd be easy enough to just use one at a time and slap them on the side that I wasn't nursing from. I could see them lasting two months that way and it would be a nice problem solver for moms that leak a lot.

Want to try them out for yourself? You can buy them online, or find a local retailer that carries LilyPadz.

Labels:

  1. Anonymous Damien McKenna | 8:43 AM |  

    Pardon me for asking, but why do you need them?

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 10:08 AM |  

    LOL...

    Ok, well the reason that people use nursing pads (or either disposable, washable wool, or something like LilyPadz) is twofold.

    1.) Many moms have a strong let-down sensation. If they hear baby cry, haven't nursed for awhile, or even sometimes just think about baby, it triggers their milk to "let-down" and start flowing. That means that even without a baby latched on, you'll often leak milk. For some women (raises hand) let-down means that you will actually SPRAY milk. (nice parlor trick, eh?)

    2.) Even for moms that don't have problems leaking due to strong let-down, there's still the issue of let-down while nursing. Unless you are tandem nursing (two kids at one time) the breast that isn't being nursed from often gets triggered to release milk at the same time. So, you can be nursing on one side and milk starts flowing from the other.

    Thus...nursing pads were created. Usually they are some type of absorbant material in a round shape that slips into your bra between the nipple and the fabric. It catches any milk that leaks. (Think of panty liners for the concept)

    Some moms only need to use them during engorgement (the first week when your milk comes in) some moms only need them until their supply is established (a few weeks) but some moms pretty much have to use them for as long as they nurse.

  3. Anonymous Clare | 11:42 AM |  

    I worry about Lilypadz being used in the early weeks of breastfeeding because of the fact that reducing the amount of milk leaving the breast will also reduce the supply somewhat - fine if you have an abundant oversupply, or are months down the line, but if your supply is not so plentiful you want every bit of help you can get, and leaking milk while you feed is very helpful in this way. I also worry about the potential for blocked ducts (and everything else that leads on from blocked ducts), particularly if the Lilypadz are used during any episodes of engorgement - not just in the early days, but later on if baby has a feeding frenzy one day!

    BTW, you can use the heel of your hand on your nipple in the same way the Lilypadz work - when you're feeding, the minute you feel letdown you can stop the milk leaking from the other breast by pressing the heel of your hand on your nipple area. If you feel letdown when you're not feeding, crossing your arms over your chest will allow you to do the same thing discretely on both breasts at the same time. This technique also has the long-term benefit of helping to reduce your milk supply to what baby is demanding rather than what baby is demanding *plus* what is being leaked out IYSWIM. This means that the leaking will get less and less as time goes on anyway.

    Best wishes (and thanks for a lovely blog that I've been reading for a few weeks now but not commented on!)

    Clare
    x

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 12:11 PM |  

    Clare, welcome aboard and thanks for commenting! Always glad when new readers take the time to jump into the little community we're building here. :)

    You make some excellent points re: using them in the early days or during engorgement. I really handn't thought of that and I'd be curious to hear the thoughts from any LCs that might be reading.

    I didn't start using them until Emmitt was about 2 months old and my supply was already well established. (I have enough milk to feed septuplets lol)

    I have found (thanks to reading about how LilyPadz work) that the compression thing DOES work well. Since Emmitt is now getting to the stage where he pulls off sometimes while eating (leaving me with an arc of shooting milk) I've figured out how well that can work. Now I simply make sure I'm ready to use my finger to compress the nipple if he does that so that milk doesn't go everywhere.

    Ahh...the many entertaining practices of breastfeeding. ;)

  5. Anonymous Melissa | 12:54 PM |  

    Hi there,

    I'm another gal who's been reading your blog but hasn't commented before (I have an RSS feed to my google homepage so I see updates as soon as the arrive!). Thanks for all the fun reads!

    On the current topic - I really prefer not to use anything "disposable" (I'll leave my rant at that). I prefer to use the washable cloth pads, also made by Lanisoh. I have a stack of about 20 so I'm not constantly doing laundry. True you can't wear them without a bra but honestly I don't mind a little leakage at night. I keep a cloth diaper or other soft cloth next to the bed and usually drape it over the side I'm not nursing on - works great. I don't think I have as strong a let-down as you so I have not yet fully soaked a cloth, but I do spray in the shower when the water is hot!

    I love this blog - if I made these types of comments at the dinner table my older stepsons would gag and leave the room. :-)

    Anyway, I'd say the only drawback to the cloth discs is that once they are wet and you remove them to nurse or pump or whatever, you don't really want to put them back on so you have to make sure you have an extra or two. I have also heard that if you are prone to yeast infections you will want to change them often but (knock on wood) I haven't had that problem yet.

  6. Blogger Jennifer | 1:02 PM |  

    Hey Melissa, welcome aboard! (Yay, two new reader outings in one afternoon! lol)

    I'm with you on the disposable issue. We've really worked hard in the last year to cut down our waste. Most weeks now we manage to have just two kitchen size garbage bag, we recycle ANYTHING that we can, even though DH has to drive quite a ways to find a drop-off center.

    Anyway, I'm planning on reviewing the Lansinoh washable pads in a few months' time. I really liked them the first day I used them, though I haven't gotten them out of the wash yet. The issue there though is how thick they are, that's part of what I liked about LilyPadz...how thin they were.

    Plus if they DID last two months, that'd be 12 total padz to get you through the year. As thin as they are, 12 pads would be about the size of two decks of cards. That's not bad in the grand scheme of things, especially compared to all the disposable pads I'd go through in a year, ya know?

    But at two weeks a pop, it would take 52 to get me through the year. I'm very curious to hear if my regular readers that like LilyPadz have had them last the full two months.

  7. Anonymous Tamara | 8:11 PM |  

    It must be new-reader-delurking day or something... looks like I'm the third new commenter today! I just discovered your blog this past week and I've already read all the archives. :D

    Anyways, I wanted to chime in with my favorite nighttime breast pad securing solution... the nursing wrap sleep bra from Motherhood. Yeah, it's kinda silly to buy another bra just to sleep in, but if it keeps me from changing my pyjamas and the sheets at 3 a.m., it's well worth it to me. Plus it's sooooo comfortable, and I find it really helps defend my nipples against certain scratchy pyjamas when I'm not wearing the breast pads.

  8. Blogger Jennifer | 8:13 PM |  

    Wow, three's company I guess. :) Glad to see you here too, thanks so much for delurking Tamara! :)

    I've honestly never tried the sleep bra thing...I'm pretty large chested (DDD cup) and I've yet to find a sleep bra that comfortably fit my size. I guess they're probably out there though, maybe I should keep looking...

  9. Anonymous Tamara | 8:47 PM |  

    If you're at a Motherhood store you should give it a try... I'm a G cup and the XL sleep bra is very comfortable for me! :)

  10. Anonymous Clare | 2:08 AM |  

    Hi again Jennifer - thanks for the welcome. Didn't want to say previously, but I am a Breastfeeding Counsellor in the UK and would also be interested to hear the views of other BFCs/LCs.

    Cx

  11. Blogger Judy | 1:55 PM |  

    My boobs don't leak.

    At least they haven't yet. :)

  12. Blogger Jennifer | 2:00 PM |  

    :-P

    Lucky!

  13. Anonymous Jax | 11:00 AM |  

    I had wondered about the pressure thing during engorgement - having had a couple of blocked ducts in my time the idea worried me. But I too can spray across a room (or could, not feeding atm) - best hit was outdoors at a party when I got a friend sitting several feet away ;)

    I used sleep bras and reusable pads - had some lovely ones from mothercare (I'm UK based for those that don't know me, oh, and hi Clare , nice to see you here too!)

  14. Blogger SLewis | 10:46 AM |  

    I've been using the Majamas Easy Bra for sleeping in. It's not the best for larger women during daytime use but it sure is comfortable for night time.

    It's also relatively cheap and easy to wash.

  15. Anonymous Trina | 10:39 PM |  

    I have some LilyPadz and like them for occasional use only. I think the biggest downside for continual wear is that they don't really let your nipples air out & breathe. Also, like Jennifer experienced, once you get a little air pocket in there, and some milk gets in you have both a constantly wet nipple (which gets sore & icky after extended periods like this) plus the slippery slope to the catastrophic leak. I've resorted to disposable pads the majority of the time, but I definitely like the thin & sticky LilyPadz for the shower or for trying on nursing bras, or when you just don't want to wear a bra yet again (like at night).

  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:07 PM |  

    Same thing happened to me. I followed the directions to the letter, but after about a week, they tackiness was gone...

  17. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:37 PM |  

    My God! I'm so glad I ran into this review because it has described my situation to the tee. I'm on my second pair which LilyPadz exchanged for my first since the first pair was so lousy. Well, the second pair started out better, but after only ten days the lining on one seems to be almost completely compromised. Neither is sticking effectively now. If I ever do get another pair, I will use them only at night for the luxury of not wearing a bra...but I will not be wearing them during the day anymore. It's just not worth the worry. Having said all this, I do have friends who have never had this problem. On the same note, they do not have my let-down, so????

  18. Blogger Loz | 6:51 PM |  

    Interesting reading. My baby's only 3 weeks old and I have oversupply and a let-down sufficient to produce those lovely drowning/struggling sounds at feeds. However, to the disgust of most around me I've been generally just living with the wet spots and wearing dark shirts :) I hate nursing bras as the one time I wore them they seemed to cause lumpy engorgement - maybe it will be different in a few weeks when supply settles? I was thinking the LilyPads might be a reasonable solution but I guess not!

  19. Anonymous lymbo4y | 8:42 PM |  

    Well, I have to say I am only on my third pair of Padz & found that there is a huge difference in each set. The first set I bought on line (while still pg -- 2nd kid, huge supply w/#1 & major leakage issues . I nursed until 26 mos. Can't remember when the leaks stopped-maybe after 12 months.) Anyway, my first set lasted abt 3 weeks. I decided I wasn't taking good care of them. Plus, I used lanolin & that likely made them less tacky. One cannot get any lint/dust on them & washing daily seems to be key. Finding a place to put them lint-free has been an issue. I finally threw the case in my diaper bag & that works the best. So I retired those & went to pair 2. Again, lasted close to two months. I am on pair three & they are still going strong (it's been 3 months) . I wash them at least once a day. Shake them real hard & put them back on within 10 minutes. They do have that weird protein/milk residue spot in the middle but it hasn't caused any leaks. NOW let me tell you a bit more. There are a few things I didn't see mentioned in the first few blogs I read. One is these are great for sensitive nipples-including bleeding ones. Not sure I would have got past that first two weeks without them. Point two is , for me, they do not prevent leakage of milk. By that, I mean they prevent a huge amount from leaking, BUT I still leak a small amount in that air pocket between the compressed nipple & the areola. Sooo each time I go to nurse I have to look to see if I leaked (I only nurse one side per time). If the little air pocket is full of milk I let it out onto a cloth diaper. Pain in the butt, but I have stuck with the padz for a few reasons. One is no sleep bra, which has meant for me no plugged ducts this time. Also, the padz allow some breathing so no yeast infections this time. I also hated having those cloth pads show through last time. The Lansinoh disposable I am allergic to. The third reason would be that I was leaking through two heavy cloth pads & it was waking me up & more lack of sleep is not acceptable. Not to mention that losing all that hard earned/made liquid gold drove me nuts. The final reason is I bought ten pairs of these from Ebay & am determined to use them & nurse this babe til 24 months. That being said pros totally outweigh the cons.

  20. Anonymous Liz | 9:43 AM |  

    The trick to keeping them functional is washing with cold water and 1 drop of liquid hand soap, shake it off and put it back on it's plastic shell in the plastic container that it comes with- or put it back on. I am post mastectomy with a revision on the opposite breast which left my nipple overly sensitive. They have been a blessing to me.

  21. Blogger Tracy | 12:18 PM |  

    I LOVE LilyPadz and used them for all 10 months I was able to BF my son. I only had to buy 2 pairs... so my experience was drastically different.

    I loved that I could go swimming in them - and of course the sleeping bra-less without drowning! woohoo!

    I found that OVER washing them, or washing them with the wrong type soap was a problem. Because they stop milk flow, you're not sitting with leakage against your skin for any amount of time (for it to grow bacteria) so I usually just rinsed mine, (with the sterile water left from washing the pump/his bottles) washing them 1/week or as needed if more often.

    Responding to Clare about use in the early weeks:
    Unless you're in the practice of holding a cup under your opposite nipple (or tandem nursing) the LilyPadz are preferrable to absorbent pads in that they prevent milk loss - saving all your produced milk safely in your boob until consumption!

    AND - because they don't have any pressure points, like a bra, if you can get away with wearing them with just a thick tank top they are FABULOUS for the engorgement period!!!

    I recommend them highly to all my friends and put them in starter kits for my closest!

    Tracy

    (you're coming up in the top 5 when you search google for "lilypadz"... congrats!)

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