What can I do to prevent or manage leakage?
Whether or not a new mother initiates breastfeeding, her body will begin producing milk soon after delivery. Breast milk leakage can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for women who don't know how to curb the problem. Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate discomfort:
- Understand Your Letdown Reflex: The natural release of breast milk from the nipple is a reflexive response reflex in lactating women. This letdown reflex can be triggered by any number of things, from the sound of a baby crying, to looking at a picture of your little one, to going long periods between nursing. Whatever the case, you can try to pinpoint this reflex. Most women feel a tingling sensation in their nipples directly before the letdown.
- Stay on a Feeding/Pumping Schedule: Sticking to an established feeding/pumping schedule is helpful for both you and your baby. If you need to break from your schedule and feel the milk ejection reflex but can't feed or pump, applying slight pressure against your breasts (such as tightly crossing your arms or holding a book against your breasts) can help stop the breasts from leaking.
- Wear Disposable/Reusable Nursing Pads: You can find a variety of disposable and reusable (washable cotton) pads at drugstores and supermarkets. These handy products tuck easily into your bra to absorb milk leaked between feedings. Avoid pads with plastic liners which can trap moisture against your skin and lead to sore nipples. Also, pack extra pads in your purse and change pads frequently to keep your nipples clean and prevent infection.
- Wear Patterned Tops: Shying away from solid-colored tops is a wise idea if you experience leakage. Leaks are much more noticeable on solid-colored fabrics.
- Pack a T-shirt: Carry an extra shirt in your diaper bag or purse in case a leak soaks a pad and wets your shirt.
- Wear Nursing Pads to Bed: If your breasts leak at night, consider wearing a comfortable bra and nursing pads to bed. You can also look for T-shirts or tank tops with built in bras and tuck nursing pads into the fitted material close to your breasts. And if you discover that you leak during intimate moments, look for nursing negligees or camisoles with support in the bust (for slipping in nursing pads). These can be found everywhere from Amazon.com to Victoria's Secret and will help you feel both more comfortable and sexy.
- Be Positive: Although breast milk leakage is a sometimes embarrassing problem, don't let it get to you! Stress can lead to decreased milk production, so stay positive, laugh it off, and remember that this is only temporary.
As time goes by, chances are you will leak less often or even not at all. Don't worry! This doesn't mean that you are losing your milk, but rather your body is finally regulating milk production.