colostrumDuring pregnancy and breastfeeding, leaky breasts are a normal part of lactation. Despite understanding the fact that with pregnancy and breastfeeding come leaky breasts, many women feel overwhelmed by the idea of wetting through clothing in public or leaking breast milk during intimate situations.

Causes of Leaky Breasts

During pregnancy, leaky breasts are a sign that lactation preparation has started. Some women experience leaky breasts as early as 20 weeks gestation and other women experience no early leaking. Your body will produce breast milk well before you give birth, but that does not mean you will leak breast milk prior to giving birth.

After giving birth, leaky breasts are caused by increased milk production. At first, the breast milk leaking is called colostrum. Colostrum is protein-rich, low-fat breast milk that supplies immunities and essential nutrients for your infant. Colostrum tends to be thick and yellow in color. Colostrum leaks will not be as prominent as established milk leaks due to the thickness of the milk.

Many new mothers experience significant milk letdown when hearing a baby cry. The baby does not have to be their own newborn. There is no way of preventing natural milk release at this time, but you will become less sensitive to baby’s cries with time.

Combating Leaky Breasts

There is nothing you can do to stop leaky breasts. Leaks are actually a sign that breast milk production is happening normally. However, leaking through your bra and clothing is not something you want to address in public. Breast pads placed between the nipple and bra can soak up extra breast milk preventing wet spots and embarrassment. Cotton, washable breast pads are better than disposable breast pads with plastic linings. The plastic lining, while ideal for preventing wet spots, holds in moisture increasing the risk of infection.

Pressing on leaky breasts can also ease letdown and leaks. Apply direct pressure at home using the palms of your hands. In public situations, place the palms of your hands under your chin and use your biceps to pressure down on breasts.

Frequent breastfeeding or pumping breast milk can also reduce the amount of milk leaking from breasts. If you are out of the home and you do not have access to a breast pump, manually express enough milk to prevent leaking through clothing.

Leaky breasts are a part of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Keep breasts dry and remove wet clothing as soon as possible. Keep an extra set of clothes and extra breast pads with you at all times to reduce the risk of irritation and infection.