Breastfeeding is the best way to feed baby, but it doesn't afford many women the option of staying at home the entire first year after birth. When you must return to the workplace you must also prepare for leaking breasts at any and all times. Something as seemingly insignificant as a crying coworker or intense business meeting can lead to milk letdown and when letdown occurs you could face some interesting looks from coworkers. Be prepared for the inevitable even if it never happens.
Why Does Milk Leak?
Breast milk is created to nourish baby, so why does it leak when baby's not eating? The human body is prepared to feed at all times after birth. If you choose not to breastfeed, milk will dry up and breasts will eventually return to normal size. There are even medications the doctor can give you to speed up the process. By the time you're cleared to head back to work you won't have to worry about milk letdown.
If you choose to breastfeed, you're in another situation all together. When baby cries your body prepares to breastfeed by letting down milk. The milk attracts baby, who latches on to the breast. You tend to establish a schedule at home, but your body doesn't have a memo system so it doesn't know when you've returned to work. During normal feeding times your breasts may letdown or leak milk because that is what it is used to doing.
There are also other factors like nipple stimulation from clothing or hearing a sound that resembles baby crying (could be another baby) that may cause leaky breasts.
How to Stop the Embarrassment of Leaky Breasts at Work
The best choice is breast pads. You'll have to change them often and secure them in place with a snug bra, but these pads are made to soak up breast milk and keep it off your shirt throughout the day. You can also schedule times throughout the day to pump breast milk. (Baby has to be eating something during the day right?)
If you do leak milk at work - just roll with it. Excuse yourself from the meeting and head off to the bathroom for a little clean-up. Always keep an extra blouse or work shirt available so you can change.