You’re likely preparing for your postpartum experience in the weeks before you give birth. Freezing casserole dishes and stocking up on sanitary pads are excellent ways to make healing easier, but many new moms feel caught off guard when their milk starts leaking from their breasts. Mia Barnes gives us five tips for caring for leaking breasts.
Here’s how to stay comfortable and avoid minor frustrations while bonding with your new infant.
1. Start Pumping Early
You’ll likely be in the last few weeks of your third trimester when your breasts begin producing milk. They’re preparing for your baby, but the leaking can begin well before there’s an infant to digest it.
Consider pumping early if your leaking is significant before giving birth. You can save breast milk for up to 12 months in the freezer, which may come in handy if illness or mastitis slows your production while breastfeeding.
2. Apply Gentle Pressure
Minor leaks may stop if you apply gentle pressure to your nipples. This helps when you’re leaking during a shower or sexual intercourse.
If you get concerned about the look of your breast milk, your doctor is only a phone call away. They can explain that it might look yellow and thick because colostrum carries more nutrients for your baby’s first few meals. It’s always helpful to ask about your concerns as you care for your changing body before and after childbirth.
3. Carry Breast Pads
Breast pads are like sanitary napkins for your boobs. They fit inside regular or nursing bras to prevent leaks from staining or seeping through your clothing. You can use them before giving birth and carry them in your purse for replacements as needed.
4. Wear a Second Layer
Wet T-shirts are a recurring part of being a new mom. Although it’s bound to happen eventually, you can mitigate your frustration by wearing a second layer over your shirts. Put an open button-down over a tank top or a cardigan over your sweater. The milk may not reach the outer layer of clothing, so no one will know you have leaking breasts.
You can also save your most stained shirts and turn them into a blanket for your new baby. It’s a budget-friendly way to swaddle them and keep your older clothes out of landfills when you don’t want to wear them anymore.
5. Breastfeed More Frequently
The average infant drinks breastmilk or formula every one to four hours, depending on their appetite, size and sleep routine. Talk with your doctor about breastfeeding more often to deal with milk leaks. They may recommend it if your baby was born smaller than expected or if your feeding sessions are already happening throughout the day.
Feeding your infant more often helps prevent your breasts from getting too full. Manual expression is also possible if you’re having issues with a breast pump. The primary goal is draining your breasts regularly to prevent painful problems like clogged ducts or soreness.
Prepare for Leaking Breasts
Caring for leaking breasts is an ongoing learning process. Use these tips to make the experience easier. You’ll easily manage leaks while breastfeeding if you have pads, layered clothing and keep an open mind to your pumping routine.
Mia Barnes is a freelance health writer who specializes in family and maternal wellness. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind magazine. Follow Mia and Body+Mind on Twitter and Linkedin!