For When You’ve Sprung a Breast Milk Leak

Leaky boobs are more of an imposition upon convenience rather than a condition needing a “cure.” If your faucets just don’t seem to turn off, know that although your shirts will get damp, it shouldn’t put a damper on your breastfeeding success.

The amount of leakage is not necessarily related to how much milk you make; alas, if you never leak or only leak minimally, that is not itself a sign of low supply or slow letdown. Predisposition to leak milk is related to a woman’s physical duct anatomy, not necessarily how much those ducts can hold. It’s also related to what’s going on with her hormonally For example, is she hearing or seeing crying babies or puppies or looking at photos of cute little beings often? Is she leaking at oxytocin surges during sexual intimacy? Many women leak when they merely think about their babies, as this stimulates the letdown response.

Of course, it can be embarrassing (and messy) if you have to deal with wet spots the size of, well, milk saucers on your shirt every time you hear a baby whimper at the grocery store. No one signs up for motherhood expecting to look like a traveling wet t-shirt contest participant, right? Or in my case, just really, really sloppy and not very skilled at keeping up with laundry!

A variety of different breast pads are on the market to help wick away and absorb spillage so you can leave the house without fear of looking like a pair of invisible rain clouds had just released isolated showers upon your breasts.

With my first baby I only leaked a few times, so I asked several more experienced moms about it and my unscientific poll revealed that silicone LilyPadz were recommended most often. You can mix-and-match styles and brands for different times/places (overnight, at home, with certain outfits, etc) or just stock up on one type that works for you. you can also purchase homemade breast pads on Etsy, or make your own if you happen to be so crafty.

Another tip: just because you never leaked with one baby doesn’t guarantee you’re protected with subsequent nurslings, a lesson I learned with my second baby.

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Things to consider when choosing breast pads:

Absorbency – Many women swear that washables are not as absorbent as disposables (Lansinoh brand got high marks from those asked in my unscientific poll). If you’re leakiness is monsoon-like, washables may not be able to wick the moisture away as well as disposables. However, if the milky skies’ precipitation is only forecasting drizzles here and there, the comfort of washables may be worth it.

Convenience – Disposables simply get tossed (not very friendly toward the environment), and washables must be laundered. Re-usables such as silicone LilyPadz can simply be rinsed or wiped off and allowed to air-dry. Disposables can be great when traveling, or you can keep a handful in your purse “just in case.”

Cost  – If you leak frequently, you’ll be constantly buying new boxes of disposables. Washables and re-usables are a one-time fee, or in the case of washables you can make your own out of materials you already have on hand.

Look/Feel – Disposables can tend to bunch up and fold over, but when properly placed they don’t show through shirts as much as the thicker washables. However, the washable brand Bamboobies is known to give a pretty smooth, virtually seamless look under shirts. Also, sometimes disposables get a bit sticky from the adhesive and can feel “papery” and itchy as opposed to most washables, which are typically made of a softer natural material.

Other Purposes – Disposables are great as a barrier between your bra and breast if you are using a breast ointment/cream that you don’t want rubbing off. This type is also useful if you’re in the throes of thrush, as you’ll want to keep the nipple area as dry and clean as possible. LilyPadz are pretty cool because you can use them while you go swimming or feel free to go braless.