it depends. some women breast feed and have no need for nursing pads, while some still wear them even as their baby gets older. I'm 11 months post partum and still wear them, but I've heard of some women who can stop using them around 3 or 4 or 5 months when their supply really starts to settle out.
as far as brands go, I've always preferred the disposables because they have a plastic backing to them. I'm a heavy leaker, especially if my son skips a feeding, so I've always just felt more comfortable with disposables. the washable ones are nice if you find a good brand, but I don't have much experience with them. I did have the gerber washable kind (only ones available at local stores) and I leaked through those when I was JUST starting nursing and switched to disposable for life. they're only $8 for a month's supply so I don't worry about the cost too much.
eta: if you're crafty, you might try to sew your own? a PUL fabric (or other waterproof fabric) backed one lined with flannel, hemp, or terry cloth would work great.