Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy – Are They Normal And What to Do?

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a woman’s body does to support a newborn life. The breasts change as the body changes during pregnancy. We all know about breasts producing milk after delivery, but did you know about leaking breasts during pregnancy? Is it even normal?

When a woman gets pregnant, her body starts changing and preparing to nurture a little life inside her. It starts adapting and getting ready to support the child during the pregnancy and even after the pregnancy. The breasts undergo one of the biggest changes in the body, after the uterus. They are ready to start nurturing the baby, sometimes even before the baby arrives!

In This Article

Are Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy Normal?

Breast leakage or nipple discharge during pregnancy is more common than you would think. Your body is getting ready to feed the baby. The hormones are shifting to sustain the life inside and are preparing the body to support the baby after birth. An imbalance in these hormones can cause your breasts to start “leaking” even before the baby is born.  Prolactin is the hormone responsible for promoting breast milk production. As prolactin increases in your body towards the end of your pregnancy, the breasts start filling up with colostrum- the first creamy milk that comes from the breasts.

The colostrum is vital for the baby as it is filled with protein and essential antibodies to protect the baby when it comes out of the protective womb. These antibodies protect the baby in the initial days after birth before the immune system can start functioning and producing antibodies on its own. Estrogen, another hormone whose production increases during pregnancy, is responsible for arresting this milk and preventing it from leaking from the breasts before the baby arrives. So, when the estrogen and prolactin balance is not perfect, breasts can leak milk.

When Will Breasts Start Leaking During Pregnancy?

When Will Breasts Start Leaking During Pregnancy_

The breasts are believed to start producing colostrum as early as the 14th week of pregnancy. While many women experience small drops of milk or colostrum leaking from the breasts, toward the end of the pregnancy. It can sometimes be in the third trimester itself. In rare cases, it can be as early as the 2nd trimester itself.

Breasts can start leaking milk due to stimulation too. When the nipples are stimulated during foreplay, they can leak a few drops of clear liquid or colostrum. If you notice this to be the reason, you can ask your partner to be more gentle. Nipples can also leak when they repeatedly rub against your clothing. If rubbing against clothing is causing them to leak, you can wear padded bras or use breast pads to reduce the friction.

[Read: Breast Pads – What Are They And How To Use Them?]

Are Leaky Breasts During the Third Trimester Normal?

Yes, they are perfectly normal. As the hormones increase in your body, it is all but natural for them to go out of balance at times. When your body produces more prolactin, it is getting ready to produce more breast milk for the baby, which is perfectly normal. Breasts can start leaking clear fluid drops or sometimes even creamy white or yellow milk. There is nothing to get alarmed about. This is just your body going through the course of pregnancy.

At the same time, if you don’t leak any colostrum throughout the pregnancy, do not mistake it to be an issue. Most women go through the entire pregnancy without leaking any milk.

Can Leaking Breasts Signal Labor?

Many women start leaking colostrum a few weeks before birth. However, this is not necessary for all pregnancies. Leaky breasts are perfectly normal during pregnancy. It is just your body getting ready to feed the baby.

However, if you notice a lot of discharge or blood leaking from your vagina, then it could be a sign of labor. If it is just your breasts, there is nothing much to worry about.

[Read: Early Signs That Labor is Coming Soon]

Tips to Deal With Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy

Tips to Deal With Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy

Leaking breasts can be quite embarrassing for some women. Though the whole world can see your pregnant belly and knows you are growing a baby inside you, you don’t want to walk around with wet stains around your nipple area.

Here are some tips to handle leaky breasts during pregnancy.

  • If you are caught off guard and are outside, just stuff a few tissues inside your bra and they will absorb the drops of milk.
  • You can invest in padded bras. Since you will be buying bigger bras as your pregnancy progresses, you can buy a few padded ones.
  • Breast pads and nursing pads are good options to use with regular bras. You can even carry them in your bag to use in case of unexpected leaks.
  • Always carry a scarf with you. If your breasts leak and stain your clothes unexpectedly, you can cover your chest with a scarf and also add some style to your outfit.

When to Worry About Leaking Breasts?

As long as it is just a few drops of clear liquid, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you notice your breasts to be leaking more than just a few drops, or if they are leaking thick milk, then the hormonal imbalance could be more.

In a few cases, such leakage or blood discharge can indicate your milk ducts are clogged or mammary duct ectasia. These can be easily treated by your doctor without any complications.

Don’t worry, most times, these are just an imbalance in the hormones and changes in the milk ducts. Your breasts are getting ready to start producing milk to feed the baby.

When to Consult a Doctor For Leaking Breasts?

Though leaky breasts are common during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult your doctor in the following situations.

  • Your breasts are leaking more milk, more frequently.
  • The colostrum discharge is thick.
  • You notice drops of blood or milk tinged with blood.
  • You experience an increase in tenderness or feel pain in your breasts.

Though none of these indicates any problem or a serious issue, it is always a good idea to keep your caregiver informed about the changes in your body. Consulting your doctor can just put all that uneasiness at rest.

Don’t worry, leaky breasts during pregnancy are not something to worry about. It is just your body signalling you that it is ready to nurture a new life. Yes, it can be embarrassing, especially if you have taken the time to dress up well to go somewhere and you end up staining your clothes with leaking milk. Just use our tips and enjoy this beautiful journey. This discomfort is just for a few weeks.


1. Can I Pump Out the Leaking Colostrum Before Birth?

Consult your doctor before you start pumping while pregnant. In most cases, it can be safe. However, pumping might cause mild contractions which may be unsafe in certain pregnancies. Your doctor will be able to guide you properly.

2. Can I Take Medicines to Stop Breasts From Leaking During Pregnancy?

No, not unless your doctor strongly suggests it. When you are pregnant, your body is producing hormones to promote breast milk supply. If you control this hormone, it could affect the breast milk supply.

3. If My Breasts Leak Before Birth, Will All Colostrum go to Waste?

Yes, colostrum will go to waste due to breasts leaking during pregnancy. However, you will not run out of colostrum. Colostrum will keep coming in until full milk starts coming in, which happens only during breastfeeding.

Read Also: What are Maternity and Nursing Bras?

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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