Not the best part of pregnancy that’s for sure, but a very real part, leaky breasts. If you notice a bit of milk leaking from your nipples during pregnancy, worry not – it’s a healthy sign your body is getting ready for breastfeeding.
Your boobs may keep leaking when you have your baby too. But it won’t last long, and there’s some clever ways to manage it - from crossing your arms to throwing on patterned tops.
Breast leakage during pregnancy
Your breasts may start producing months before you’re due to have your baby – sometimes as early as 14 weeks into your pregnancy
What's leaking is colostrum – the first thick, creamy milk your breasts make before producing breastmilk
But whether you leak a lot, or not at all, it makes no difference to how much milk you produce when your baby is born
Leaky breasts while breastfeeding
You may also find your breasts leak or spray milk for the first 6-10 weeks after having your baby.
This usually happens because your breasts are so full of milk they overflow. Or it can happen when the hormone oxytocin triggers the muscle cells in your breasts to squeeze out milk – also known as the ‘letdown reflex’.
You may find leaking kicks off at specific times:
- in the mornings - when your milk supply is at its highest
- when feeding from one breast, the other one produces milk too
- when you hear your baby cry
- when you just think about your baby
- when you're in a lovely warm environment, like the shower or bath
(Oxytocin is also released when you orgasm, so don't be too surprised if your milk sprays during sex!)
How to deal with leaky breasts
You can’t stop your breasts from leaking, but there’s plenty you can do to help:
- apply the pressure - if you feel that tell-tale ‘let-down tingle’, press your hands gently against your nipples, or cross your arms over your boobs. If you're sitting at a table, casually cup your chin in your hands, pressing your forearms into your boobs
- feed regularly or express - the more you breastfeed, the less likely your breasts are to overflow
- breast pads – buy them in bulk and carry them everywhere, changing them when they become damp to stop your nipples becoming sore. Wear them on alternate boobs during feeds and at night too (opting for comfy, lightweight, cotton maternity bras you can sleep in)
- work those patterns – not only are they bang on trend, but patterned tops are brilliant at concealing milk stains too
- carry spares – pop a spare bra and top in your bag
- laugh it off - the chances are you most of your mum-friends have some good leaky boob stories to tell