I remember how overwhelming breastfeeding felt after my first baby was born. We had some difficulties starting out, but even after we sorted those out there were some things involved in the breastfeeding relationship that I just hadn’t anticipated. One of those issues was leaking breasts.
My third baby was born a little over a month ago and I am faced with leaking once again. I had forgotten how very unpleasant leakage can be. I have been leaking a lot. All the time. It’s a bit ridiculous, actually.
I leak when I get an involuntary letdown, e.g. when I hear a baby (any baby will do) cry, or when I look at my baby, or when I think about my baby, or when I think about breastfeeding, or when I get emotional about something, or any other possible reason. You get the idea. Just writing about it now is causing a letdown. It feels like pins and needles, a bit tingly, then comes the milk.
I leak at night, especially when baby sleeps a nice long stretch. He sleeps next to me, so the poor little guy is usually pretty wet when we get up in the morning because I’ve leaked all over him.
And then there’s what I like to refer to as the ‘jealous breast’. When I’m feeding on one side, the other gets excited and lets down, too. So you’re feeding, but have milk running down on the other side as well.
Here’s the good news: I know that the leaking usually gets much better. Once the milk supply has regulated itself a bit and your breasts have learned what they need to do, the instances of leakage usually become less frequent. And there are some good tricks to cope with the occurring leaks, so they don’t have you feeling mortified in public (which has happened to me…)
Breast pads can really be a savior. I prefer the cotton ones that are washable and reusable because they are more environmentally friendly, but there are disposable ones as well. There are also silicon pads that apply pressure to stop leaking. Just pop any of these in your bra and the leaks are at least contained. Some of these pads can show through an unpadded bra, making it look like you have really pronounced areolas, so padded bras are a good idea. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation without pads, but fear a leak is eminent: Just use a menstrual pad or panty liner, cut down to fit, and stick it to the inside of your bra. Works like a charm.
Tops with big patterns
Even if you’ve taken all precautions, leaks can sometimes still occur when you are out in public and make your top wet. Solid colored shirts show wet stains a lot more obviously that shirts with loud patterns. I always try to stick with patterns, at least in the early weeks of breastfeeding.
Sleep on a towel
Nobody wants their mattress to smell of sour milk. It’s very common for breastfeeding mothers’ breasts to leak during the night, especially when they have babies who sleep longer stretches. Lying on a towel can help absorb the milk and keep your mattress dry. If you have heavy night time leaking issues, try wearing a sleep bra with pads as well.
Use a milk collector
There is a fabulous product that allows a breastfeeding mother to collect the milk that leaks from the ‘unused’ breast while she’s breastfeeding. Just pop it on to the breast that the baby isn’t feeding from and let the milk flow into the container, then store it for later use.
Leaking breasts can be frustrating. However, once milk production has been established, the issue is usually resolved.