Breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful way to bond with your baby. Most people are aware of the many benefits of breastfeeding and will continue to breastfeed their baby for as long as they possibly can. While some mothers would be able to provide sufficient milk only for the first year of life, others would be able to provide breast milk up to the 2nd year or even after.
One thing most nursing or lactating mothers need to deal with is leaking breasts. This is completely normal. Sometimes, leaking can give new mothers feel more confident about their breastfeeding abilities. Other times it is just an inconvenience for mothers. The problem with the leaking is that the leaking can cause discomfort especially if there is excessive leakage or if it stains the clothes.
What causes breasts to leak?
There are various possible causes of breast milk leakage. Before we get into that, let us understand what happens. First, your body produces breast milk based on how many times you feed your baby and the signals that your body gets about your baby’s needs. After breast milk is produced, it needs to be released.
Normally, breasts release the breast milk only upon receiving 2 signals from the brain in the form of hormones - prolactin and oxytocin - through the nerves in the nipple. This signal indicates that your baby is hungry and needs milk. This is definitely a good thing since your body is naturally able to nourish your baby on demand.
The problem is that this oxytocin can be released not only whenever your baby cries, but also when you hear your sister’s baby cry, your neighbour’s baby cry or any baby cry for that matter. It can be released when you just think about your baby during the day which you probably do all the time. It can even happen when you experience an orgasm since an orgasm can also cause the release of oxytocin and thus milk release.
What you can do about it
While it may be inconvenient to have your breasts to leak on to your clothes, breast milk production is vital especially during those first few weeks. So if you try to limit the supply, you may end up losing the breast milk supply altogether. Instead, you can learn to deal with the leakage in a healthy way without harming the supply. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Make use of breast pads
You can either wear reusable or disposable breast pads. Just make sure that the breast pads you use don’t have plastic liners as they may end up trapping the leaked breast milk against the skin thus causing infections.
2. Wear printed clothes
Choose to wear light coloured clothes that have patterns on them. This way, even if stains appear on your clothes, they won’t be as visible. It is a good idea to keep a good collection of such clothes - perhaps in a floral print or any other small print.
3. Breastfeed your baby before bedtime
Before you go off to bed, ensure that you breastfeed your baby. This will reduce the amount of milk in your breasts and ensure that you don’t leak as much.
4. Place a towel over your bedspread
In order to protect your mattress and your bedsheet, place a thick towel over the bedsheet before you lie down on it. This way, your bed will stay dry and you will only need to wash your towel.