Just about every part of new parenthood is a logistical nightmare, and nothing beats the first few times you have to head out and leave your baby at home. Especially when your breastfeeding boobs don’t realize you’ve left your baby at home. And you start conveniently leaking breast milk.
A lot of shirts were harmed in the early months at my house. And several friends and coworkers had the uncomfortable pleasure of seeing just what happens when you don’t plan for breastmilk leakage. To help you avoid the same fate, here’s some strategies for not leaking through everything you own when you’re breastfeeding.
1. Nursing pads will save your life. Seriously, you need these. I thought I could skate by with disposables, and I did keep a stash of disposable nursing pads on hand and in my purse for a long time. But I found that I was saturating them too fast for this strategy to be cost effective. I bought some washable, organic nursing pads, and they were money very, very well spent.
2. Try to limit the time between expressing breast milk. Spreading my breast pumping sessions took a lot of creativity, and it will take more or less finessing depending on your circumstances. But the more often you can empty those milk-filled breasts, the less likely they are to leak. My job had a very strict break schedule that was set by the state, so I didn't have much flexibility on when I could pump. I ended up pumping during our fifteen minute breaks and having my husband and daughter come meet me to nurse at lunch.
3. Stick to a schedule. I got used to a very particular pumping schedule, and so did my body. Breastfeeding is an incredibly efficient system, and your body will learn the times that you typically express milk so it can provide for that feeding or pumping session. If I tried to skip a feeding or pump session, there was no way to pass the memo along to my milk ducts, and that's usually when I'd leak. Consider carrying a hand pump in your purse for the times you're away a little longer than anticipated.
4. Invest in some high-quality nursing clothes. Not only does a nursing wardrobe make access easier, it usually also helps with the side effects. Many brands build in a little extra padding around the breast area, or have strategic folds or draping that can hide an “oops” moment. At the very least, nursing-specific garments are usually machine washable and made to withstand some milky spills.
5. Plan for leakage. As much as you may try, sometimes things happen. Consider bringing an extra shirt to work with you, and definitely pack extra nursing pads. You can also bring a light scarf or sweater to hide under if you do leak. I generally wore a tank top under any shirt, and learned the hard way that dark colors and patterns hide wet spots the best.