How To Deal With Breast Milk Leakage?

Breastfeeding plays a significant role in mother-baby bonding. Today, most of the mothers know the importance of breastfeeding and like to rely on breast milk rather than opting for formula. How much delightful experience is breastfeeding is, it can create some issues for the mother as well. One of such difficulties (quite embarrassing as well) that surfaces during the lactating phase of a woman is the breast milk leakage.

The Breastmilk leakage more often tends to take place during the morning hours. The leakage of the breast can:

  • Take place from both breasts even though the mother is not feeding the baby.
  • Take place when the breast is exceptionally full.
  • Take place even when the mother urges to feed the baby when hearing her baby crying (even the cry of other babies can set off leakage in some mothers).
  • Take place when the mother is not able to nurse the baby as often as she does. Like, go shopping for a long time leaving the baby home.
  • Take place from one breast when the mother nurses her baby from the other.

Leakage of breast milk is quite common. Surveys show most of the nursing mother experience breast milk leakage one time or another during the lactating phase. While for some it is a big botheration and inconvenience, others hardly notice it. However, it is important to know how to handle this botheration.

Does the breast milk leakage indicate an overproduction of milk?

Leakage of breast milk can happen if the breast is exceptionally full of breast milk. However, most of the time it is not for the reason of the overproduction of milk. Breast milk leakage is more often because of the kicking in of the milk ejection reflex (MER).

The oxytocin hormone persuades the milk ejection reflex. MER is a must for the lactating mothers to eject the milk. This reflex usually happens when the baby latch on the nipple. This reflex can kick in even if you are not feeding the baby. As MER is driven by hormones,  other than physical factors, the thought, and emotions and circumstances can also trigger milk ejection reflex. When MER kicks in out of the blue, breast milk leakage occurs.

Does the ‘never leaked breast’ means ‘no enough milk’?

By no means breast milk leakage is related to breast milk production. Several lactating mothers who are blessed with a good breast milk production never experienced breast milk leakage at any point in time.

Why some mothers squirt milk from their breast while some others with breasts filled with milk never go through this experience?

This is owing to the fact that possibility of the breast milk leakage depends on the efficiency of the tiny muscle in the nipple region.  If the muscles are extremely effective, the breasts will not leak even it is full.

How long will the breast milk leakage go on?

The duration of the breast milk leakage varies with mothers. Some experience this phenomenon only during the early weeks of nursing. At the same time, some mothers are found to leak breast milk for several months after weaning. Again, some of mothers reports they could squeeze out a drop of milk even for a couple of years after stopping the breastfeeding, especially when they are under the shower.

How does the breast leakage stop?

Once the child attains the skill of sucking, and when the need of the baby and the number of times of the feeding increases, the breast milk leakage will stop in due course. The sphincter muscle in the nipple becomes more efficient as the time passes, which also contributes to stopping of the leakage. However, the rate of this process differs from one mother to another.

After the leakage stops, does the breast milk production decrease?

Just like the absence of breast milk leakage has nothing to do with the production of breast milk, even after the leakage stops, the mother will produce almost the equal quantity of milk throughout the lactating period, until the demand decrease.

Can I prevent breast milk leakage?

The breast milk leakage is the result of a hormonal action. Therefore, it is involuntary and cannot be prevented. However, there are some measures that will help to handle the breast milk leakage to a certain extent.

How can I handle the breast milk leakage?

Though preventing breast milk leakage is difficult, there are certain steps that can be taken to deal with it:

Force down the breasts: When you start to sense the tingly feeling of MER, apply some pressure to the breasts. You can fold your arms over the chest like self-hugging. If possible, push the base of your palm on your nipple. This is more effective in stopping the outflow of breast milk.

 

Increase the number of feeding: Simple logic. The more you feed the baby, less likely the breast leaks.

Express the milk: If you feel your breasts are almost full, and if your baby is not hungry or if you are away from the baby, find some apt place (like washroom/ toilet) and express the milk manually. It can save you from discomfiture.

Stock up cloth nursing pads: Cloth nursing pads are always good than the disposable pads as the later keeps the areola damp, thereby, increasing the chances of nipple soreness, fungal infections etc. However,  always change the cloth nursing pad as soon as it is soaked. Also, be well stocked on the nursing pads whenever you go out.

Yes, as a matter of fact, leaking breasts are bothering and embarrassing for a woman. We agree. However, there is a positive aspect for this botheration. It gets over the odds of another annoying issue the majority of the lactating mothers confront or stressed over- breast milk insufficiency.

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