Breastfeeding and Leaking Breast Milk From Your Breasts

Why You Leak and 5 Tips for Keeping It Under Control

Woman with arms crossed over chest, looking down. Breastfeeding and Leaking Breast Milk: Tips and Information
Why do you leak breast milk when you're breastfeeding?. Asia Images Group / Getty Images

Breastfeeding and Leaking Breast Milk

Leaking breast milk from your breasts is a common and sometimes embarrassing experience that occurs with breastfeeding. In the first few weeks after your breast milk comes in, it may drip or even spray out of your breasts at any time.

Some new mothers don't consider leaking to be a problem at all while others view it as just a slight inconvenience. The leaking may diminish or even stop once your breast milk supply adjusts to your baby's needs.

New mothers with an overabundant milk supply or hyperactive let-down reflex, may find the leaking continues longer than normal. For these ladies, leaking breast milk can be messy, embarrassing, and frustrating, especially if you have to go back to work.

When Are You More Likely to Leak Breast Milk?

You are more likely to leak breast milk:

  • at the end of your pregnancy
  • if your breasts become too full since leaking relieves pressure and can help prevent some of the common problems of breastfeeding, such as breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis
  • when you are breastfeeding your baby from one breast, your other breast may leak
  • when you hear your baby or another baby cry, think about your baby, or see a picture of your baby
  • when you take a shower because the warm water flowing over your breasts can stimulate leaking
  • when you are intimate with your partner
  • for no reason at all

Leaking Breast Milk and Sex

You release the hormone oxytocin during breast stimulation and orgasm.

Since oxytocin is the same hormone that triggers the let-down reflex during breastfeeding, your breast milk may leak or spray from your breasts during sex. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can:

  • Talk to your partner. Discuss your feelings and find out how your partner feels about it.
  • Nurse your baby or pump before having sex.
  • Wear a pretty nursing bra or other lingerie to help contain leaks and sprays.

5 Tips for Dealing with Leaky Breasts

Here are some tips to help you deal with leaking breast milk:

  • Wear Breast Pads: Wear breast pads in your nursing bra to absorb the milk, prevent embarrassment, and protect your clothing.
  • Breastfeed Often: If you are with your baby, breastfeed often to prevent your breasts from becoming too full. This can help decrease the amount of leaking.
  • Express Your Breast Milk or Pump Often: If you have to return to work or take time away from your baby for another reason, you can pump or use hand expression to relieve full breasts and help prevent leaks. Freeze and store your expressed milk for later use.
  • Apply Pressure to Your Nipples: When you feel the tingling sensation of the let-down reflex begin, put pressure on your nipples to help stop the milk from flowing.
  • Wear Clothing That Can Help Hide Leaks: Nursing clothes, dresses, shirts, and blouses with patterns can help disguise an accidental leak. Jackets, sweaters, and vests are also great to keep on hand in case you need to cover up.

    How Long Will You Leak Breast Milk?

    For some new mothers, leaking will continue throughout breastfeeding and even during weaning. It's even normal to keep leaking for up to three weeks after your child has stopped breastfeeding. However, if you continue to leak breast milk three months after you have fully weaned your baby, it's time to see your doctor.

    Source:

    Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition. Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

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