Breastfeeding plays a substantial role in mother-baby relationships. Consequently, most mothers use the earliest opportunity after delivery for feeding their child. In fact, doctors around the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding a baby till 6 months of age. As delightful as breastfeeding may be, it can also invite a few troubles. One of such difficulties, which can bother you, is breast milk leakage. Find out everything about leaking and spraying breasts.
Leaking and spraying breasts can happen in these situations:
Though the condition of leaking breasts is very common during the breastfeeding period (especially, during the initial few weeks after delivery), it can be equally embarrassing sometimes especially when you are in a public place. Therefore, it is important to know how to handle this botheration.
The oxytocin hormone induces the let down reflex or MER (milk ejection reflex). This reflex is significant for lactating mothers to push out the milk. It is this reflex that makes the milk in the mother’s breast available for the baby. But, when this reflex kicks in unexpectedly (when you are not feeding the baby), breast milk leakage occurs. It is all hormonal. Therefore, other than the baby triggering the nerve ends during suckling (physical factor), your thoughts, emotions and circumstances can also trigger milk ejection reflex. Infact, leaking breasts are an assurance that everything is well with breastfeeding.
All mothers are different. So is the duration a mother suffers from leaking and spraying breasts. Some lactating mothers leak breast milk only during the early weeks of nursing. While, some others are found to leak breast milk for several months. Still, some others begin leaking milk in their pregnancy itself. There is also a considerable set of mothers who never had to go through this uncomfortable situation.
Once the child grasps the knack of sucking, and their needs and the frequency of feed increases, breast milk leakage eventually stops. Also, the sphincter muscle in the nipple gets in shape and becomes more efficient in due course, which results in stopping the leakage. Only the pace of this process varies from one mother to another. The point is, even after the leakage stops, the mother will be producing more or less the same quantity of milk during the rest of the lactating period.
Breast milk leakage is the outcome of a combination of hormonal actions. Therefore, there are no hundred percent fail-proof preventive measures. Increasing the frequency of feeding the baby and expressing the milk before the breasts become full can help to prevent the breast milk leakage to certain extent.
Though preventing breast milk leakage is difficult, there are certain steps that can be taken to cope with it:
When you start to sense the tingly feeling of letdown reflex of the breast milk, put some pressure to your breast by folding the arms over the chest like self-hugging. If possible, press the base of your palm on the nipple. This is more effective to stop the leakage.
Increase the frequency of feeding. The more the baby feeds, the less likely the breasts leak. Nursing frequently also helps in preventing clogged ducts.
If your breasts are starting to feel full and your baby is not hungry or if you are away from the baby, never hesitate to express the milk manually. It can save you from embarrassment. You can even store expressed milk and use it later.
It’s better to substitute disposable nursing pads with cloth nursing pads as disposable pads keep the areola damp, increasing the chances of nipple soreness, fungal infections etc. However, you need to change the cloth nursing pad as soon as it is soaked. Be well stocked on the nursing pads when you go out.
Refrain from dressing in clothes that hold the milk spots and make them visible. Instead, opt for prints that can conceal the milk spots and hide the same. You can also carry a jacket or an overcoat which can be pulled over as soon as the leakage begins.
Some pregnant women leak breasts with colostrum during the third and final trimester of pregnancy. This simply indicates that all is going well with your pregnancy and your body is preparing itself to produce milk when your baby arrives. However, lots of leakage accompanied with soreness in the breasts should be brought to your doctor’s notice as this could indicate a problem.
Definitely not. Breast milk leakage cannot be interconnected with breast milk production. Several lactating mothers blessed with a good supply of breast milk never experience breast milk leakage at all. Why do some nursing mothers spray milk from their breast while some others never go through this experience? Because it all depends on the efficiency of the tiny muscle in the nipple region. If the muscles are extremely effective, the breasts will not leak by any means even if they are full.
Yes, it is true that the leaking and spraying breasts are bothersome for a mother. However, there is a bright side to this botheration. However, it brushes off the chances of another bothering issue most of the lactating mothers face or worried about – breast milk insufficiency.