9 Causes Of Postpartum Breast Leakage & 4 Measure To Prevent It

9 causes of postpartum breast leakage

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Lactation is a natural process for any new mother. If you have just delivered a baby, you will see some significant changes happening while beginning to breastfeed. Your breasts have just begun to produce milk to nourish your infant, and there are no words enough to describe that overwhelming feeling.

While on one hand you have just started to understand the feeding pattern of your baby, your breasts will spur up producing milk in more quantities, leading to that embarrassing leakage very often. You tend to experience a sudden gush of warm milk from your nipples, irrespective of where you are. This also causes for anxiety and stress in case you are a first time mother and do not know how to deal with the emergency at hand.

Leaking breasts are a common challenge to deal with, till you and your baby settle down connecting with each other and strike a routine. Most times, the leak that starts off actively at the beginning of nursing slows down gradually, once you establish a set pattern of feeding with your baby.

What Causes The Leakage?

The reason is plain and simple. Your breasts will start lactating actively once the breast feeding has been commenced. Milk will be produced sometimes in larger volumes, unpredictably no matter where you are.

  1. Leakage is caused due to a let down reflex of your breasts while feeding. This reflex is formed once you start nursing your baby.
  2. Your breasts begin to lactate more and more as your baby suckles. It takes time for your body to understand when to produce more amounts of milk.
  3. Your breasts will leak, drip and lactate even while not feeding your baby as your body is yet to form a pattern with your infant’s routine.
  4. Physical and Emotional triggers also surprisingly cause the leakage. You will be surprised to know that you can have a leak even when far away from your baby. Simple thoughts about your baby, looking at his picture or even your baby’s cry can cause a sudden squirt.
  5. Missed feed times of your baby due to other reasons can pile up milk in your ducts can cause leakage. This also causes plugging of your milk ducts, so make sure you are alert and available during your baby’s feeding time. In case you are outside, it is advisable to pump out the breast milk and store properly.
  6. Engorged breasts are another cause of leakage. If you are a working mom and have forgotten to pump your breasts while at work, the engorgement starts to put pressure on your milk ducts, causing a rapid gush.
  7. Warm shower also triggers leakage as there is active blood circulation in your breasts.
  8. Sex can also trigger leakage, as this is due to the hormonal activity. A simple arousal while you are nursing your infant can stimulate your nipples.
  9. Diet rich in calories and nutrients often catalyzes faster production of milk, thereby leading to a leak. This is perfectly normal. It is always important to eat healthy while nursing your infant.

Measures To Handle Leakage:

If you have frequent gush of leakage, there are some simple measures that can be implemented to tackle during the emergency:

1. Nursing Pads:

Nursing pads definitely come to your rescue.

  • Make sure you have a set of disposable nursing pads handy while at home or outside.
  • They are often the best resort for dealing with that sudden flow which happens unpredictably.
  • It is advisable for you to stock up enough of nursing pads to replace the filled up ones in extreme situations.
  • It is advisable to use the disposable ones instead of the washable cotton ones or the ones with plastic liners, as there is a lesser scope for moisture build up.
  • Sleeping with a towel on your bed or nursing pads attached can help control the leak during sleep.

2. Pumping Of Breast Milk:

Pumping the excessive milk when not feeding your baby can help you in two ways. One, you will be less threatened with a possibility of breast engorgement. Two, it helps prevent the sudden leakage.

  • Make sure that your hands are clean and hygienic while performing the pumping manually.
  • Not everyone responds well with this option as sometimes this can trigger excess leakage.
  • See if the pumping mechanism actually helps you deal with the crisis.
  • You can either use a breast pump or pump out with your hand.

3. No Whites:

Do not wear white colored clothing until you settle down with your breastfeeding routine.

  • White can show your leakage quite clearly causing further embarrassment, especially if you are among a group of people.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and a proper nursing bra to prevent any kind of trigger that causes leakage.
  • Do not wear tight clothing that stuffs your chest area. This can often trigger your breasts to start trickling milk.

4. Avoid Engorging Of Breasts:

Most times, leakage takes off as soon as your breasts are piled up and engorged. Averting the situation can massively spare you of leakage.

  • The breast engorgement happens when you delay feeding your child or forget to pump your breasts when not nursing.
  • Make sure that you take precautions from your breasts getting engorged as this also causes other complications.


  • Do NOT resort to any kind of medication unless you are in pain due to plugged milk ducts or engorged breasts. Treat leakage as a natural process of motherhood.
  • In case you are in extreme pain, you can take pain medication that has only been prescribed by your doctor.
  • Never indulge in self medication or buy over the counter drugs for pain relief while nursing, as the same gets expressed in your breast milk.
  • Talk to your health care provider in detail if you any more questions on leakage or plugged milk ducts.

Dealing with a leak in the initial days can be frustrating at times, but hang in there. Once you get a fine understanding of your baby’s feeding routine, so do your breasts. You will be surprised to see the milk being produced at the very time of your baby’s feed. One of many nature’s miracles unexplained!

Do share your views and experiences with us.

Happy Nursing!

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