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Breasts begin to produce milk during pregnancy, and leaking breasts are a situation many soon-to-be and new mothers must grapple with. However, with the right approach, one can find that it can be tackled effectively without causing any harm to the body. Read this article to know everything about leaking breasts and how to deal with them if you happen to experience during the nursing phase.
Video: How to Deal with Leaky Breasts
Why Do Your Breasts Leak?
Leaking breasts during pregnancy are common among lactating mothers. It is a healthy sign where the body’s natural mechanism helps in relieving the feeling of fullness and engorgement that nursing mothers experience in their breasts during this period. This is also known as ‘milk let down’.
The hormone oxytocin is responsible for this as it causes milk ejection reflex (MEF). The same hormone is present during orgasm and can lead to milk spraying during the climax.
How Long Do Breasts Leak?
It can last from a few weeks to several months, making it unpredictable and uncomfortable. In some cases, it may start during pregnancy, whereas in other cases, it may last only during the first few weeks of lactation. Some may even experience it throughout the nursing period right up to when the child starts weaning.
Quite often, while feeding the baby from one breast, the other breast may start leaking. Spraying of breast milk can also occur when being intimate with your partner.
Emotional triggers may also lead to dripping. This can lead to situations wherein thinking or talking about your child can induce leaking. Even hearing another baby cry or looking at pictures of babies have been known to lead to leakages.
Can You Stop Breasts from Leaking?
Whether one can stop breast milk from leaking has been asked over and over again by nursing mothers. Since it’s a natural mechanism of the body, it may take time until your body gets accustomed to the baby’s feeding schedule. The baby may also take time to grasp the breastfeeding schedule.
Frequent and unrestricted access to the breasts helps in relieving excess milk. It is advised not to miss feedings and to provide longer feeding sessions. This helps in shaping the sphincter around the muscles in the nipple by giving it shape and stopping future leakages.
In situations where you are away from your baby, applying slight pressure against your breast can stop the leaking. This can be done by crossing your arms across your breasts and slightly pressing it against your forearms. Reduction in leakage over time, however, has no impact on the quantity of milk flow; rather, it is a sign that the body is regulating the milk production.
You can also use breast pads for leaking breasts as they absorb drips, keeping the breast clean and dry. However, you should replace them frequently to avoid soreness and moistness in and around the nipples.
What Can You Do to Prevent Breast Leakage?
Here’s what you can try to prevent breast leakage:
- Pressure due to the fullness of the breasts can be relieved immediately by breastfeeding the baby. However, if the pressure persists even after the baby is full then manually expressing some milk helps. This prevents breast infection called plugged breasts or mastitis, which is painful and might keep you in bed for 24 hours.
- Whenever there is a sensation of milk let down, the base of the palms can be pressed across the nipples to prevent dripping. If you are sitting across a table then cupping your chin in your hand and applying pressure using your forearms on the nipples can stop milk let down. This should be performed after milk production is in full swing. Applying any pressure manually during the early weeks of lactation can lead to clogged milk ducts, which are undesirable.
- Wearing patterned clothes can camouflage leakage spots and prevent embarrassment in public. Avoid silk and dress smarter by opting for darker colours. Wearing jackets and sweaters can hide visible wet spots.
- Breastfeeding your child before going to bed will minimise leakages. However, one must keep in mind that the breasts are never truly empty. Sleeping patterns must be kept in check.
- Placing a bath towel on the bed before sleeping will protect your mattress and keep your bed sheet dry.
- Mothers can also invest in discreet milk collectors that can easily be slipped inside the bra. This helps in storing milk that can be provided to the baby as and when required.
What Types of Breast Pads Should You Use?
These ideas can help you prevent any breastmilk leaks from showing up in the middle of an important task.
- Disposable breast pads are available in the market, but mothers should be careful. Choosing the wrong pad can lead to several breastfeeding-related problems. Those having a plastic or waterproof lining must be avoided as they trap moisture and can lead to nipple irritation. Discreet pads that can be fit under the bra are also available.
- Reusable cotton breast pads are another alternative. One breast pad usually lasts between 2 hours to 8 hours, but the duration varies from product to product.
- Washable and reusable cloth breast pads can even be created at home. These are safer and chosen by mothers who are sceptical about investing in breast pads. While first-time moms may be a little unsure of this approach, seasoned moms may be able to do it effortlessly.
The experience of breastfeeding is different for every woman. Discussing the problems associated with it will help in creating a sense of ease amongst first-time mothers. Every mother wants the best for her baby, and insecurity and embarrassment related to leaking breasts during this period should not tarnish the beautiful experience of becoming a mother.