Breastfeeding is full of amazing benefits, both for you and your baby. But despite all of the positives, there are some things about breastfeeding that can get pretty annoying — namely, leaking. There's nothing worse than being out and realizing you have two growing wet marks by your nipples. It's even worse when you wake up in a puddle of your own milk and begin to question everything about breastfeeding. Luckily, leaking doesn't last forever and learning how to stop your breasts from leaking can give you a head start on your body's natural process as your supply regulates.
Before you can learn how to stop leaking, you need to know why it happens in the first place (if it happes to you at all). According to La Leche League International (LLLI,) leaking is most common during the early months of breastfeeding while your supply is regulating. It occurs as the result of overly full breasts or your letdown reflex happening when you didn't intend it to (like when you hear a crying baby in the supermarket and your boobs inexplicably start leaking milk.)
It can be frustrating to deal with boobs that seem to leak at random times, but the good news is that leakage gets better with time. Arming yourself with a few tips on how to minimize leakage from the get-go can work wonders for regulating your supply and keeping the "leaky" period of time as short as possible.
1. Give It Time
As stated above, leaking should get better over time. According to LLLI the beginning months are often the worst because your milk supply is still balancing. Most women notice a dramatic decrease in leaking after the first few weeks or months postpartum. Similarly, with subsequent children leaking will probably minimize too.
2. Nurse Regularly To Avoid Engorgement
Baby Center noted that leaking can be due to engorgement or overly-full breasts from not nursing enough or skipping sessions. To avoid this, nurse as often as possible or use your breast pump to relieve engorgement before leaking becomes a problem.
3. Use Nursing Pads
To avoid leaking through your bra and onto your shirt, invest in some nursing pads ($13). You can buy disposable nursing pads to take with you on the go, or invest in some washable ones to use over and over.
4. Add Some Pressure
LLLI suggested that moms try applying some pressure to their breasts when they notice unwanted leaking or letdown reflex. You can do it subtly by simply crossing your arms, or actually using your hands to apply pressure until the "tingling" of letdown stops. Eventually, your body will train itself to only letdown when you need to nurse.
5. Be Prepared
The worst (and most embarrassing) moments are when you're unprepared for leakage and have nothing to do but rock your wet t-shirt look. Being sure to always have a few nursing pads and maybe even a spare bra or shirt with you at all times will give you a sense of security in case something does happen.
Furthermore, being sure to nurse before you go out, or pump as needed will ensure your breasts don't become overly full.