The leaking of a thick, fluid substance from the breasts, along with late periods and nausea, is one of the tell-tale signs that a woman is expecting. This fluid is called colostrum and the leaking of it is nothing to be alarmed at. Although embarrassing in certain situations, it is quite a normal symptom of pregnancy and should be regarded with nothing but joy and excitement.
In this article, we will delve into what leaking colostrum means for a woman as a sign of pregnancy:
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is a kind of milk produced mainly by mammals for the feeding of their infants. It is the first kind of milk that your baby consumes when you breastfeed for the first time. Human colostrum contains the needed nutrients and anti-bodies to protect the infant from diseases and aid in the baby’s bodily development. Since the baby’s digestive system is still forming even after delivery, colostrum delivers important nutrients but in a low-concentrated form. Colostrum is also rich in vitamin A, proteins, and sodium chloride.
Why do women leak colostrum?
Leaking colostrum is where the breasts of an expectant mother leak a thick, yellowish-creamy fluid. This simply means that certain types of hormones are rapidly coursing within and that the body is gearing up to produce breast milk for the coming baby. As many experienced mothers would know, leaking colostrum is a perfectly normal symptom of pregnancy and should be regarded as such. Celebrate as this means you are a soon to be mother.
Is it really a sign of pregnancy?
Yes, it is. Apart from missing a menstrual period, nausea, and having morning sickness, leaking colostrum – albeit a rarer symptom – is also a relatively accurate sign that a woman is pregnant. This usually occurs around 16 weeks into pregnancy. If you have missed a menstrual period or find that your breasts are swelling up and leaking fluid, it would be wise to take a pregnancy test and consult a physician as soon as possible. There are also a number of homemade pregnancy tests that can be done for little to no cost at all.
When does this occur?
Every pregnancy is different. A mother can experience leaking at any point of pregnancy. The first few drops may begin anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks but changes to the breasts can happen immediately after conception. It is not unusual for some women to experience leaking just a few weeks after conceiving. Upon entering the 3rd trimester, the colostrum becomes more fluid, turns paler in color, and leaks in greater amounts. This is in preparation for the coming baby.
Leaking too much or too little?
Some women leak quite a substantial amount of colostrum while others leak only a few drops to nothing at all. An expectant mother will most likely leak colostrum even more during sex but must not be alarmed by this as it is quite normal (although very embarrassing). Most will eventually leak during the 3rd trimester but some mothers do not leak at all throughout the entire course of pregnancy. This doesn’t mean anything significant as the amount of colostrum a mother leaks will not affect the mother’s ability to produce breast milk once the baby is delivered.
If leaking colostrum or even breast milk does not occur after the baby is delivered, this might just mean that the breast muscles are efficient but consult a doctor just in case.
What to do?
The leaking of colostrum can be quite bothersome as it’ll stain clothes and give off unpleasant smells when it goes stale. Use lightweight, washable cotton breast pads to remedy this. Change the pads after every few hours or as often as needed and wear them with maternity bras during sleep. Avoid tight fitting clothes and wear black or dark shirts to minimize stain marks.
Hand expressing colostrum is where you press the colostrum and/or breast milk out by hand. It is a useful skill that will better prepare a mother for breastfeeding but it would be wise to do this after birthing with the instruction of a midwife. Learning this will prevent overflowing and allow you to store some colostrum and milk for future feedings. However, if there are any complications with the pregnancy or if the mother as any pre-existing illnesses, hand expressing should be done before the baby is born.
It is important to note that the leaking will not cease once you are breastfeeding but will increase. This, although a bit of a nuisance, is natural. Use cotton breast pads, sports or maternity brass, and breast pumps to alleviate this.
If you find traces of blood in the leaked colostrum, seek the attention of your doctor as this may be caused by a benign breast disorder. You may suffer from breast tissue disorder or intraductal papilloma.
Consult a physician as soon as you are able after discovering you’re pregnant. Inform your doctor of any pre-existing or current sicknesses or diseases that you may have and follow his/her orders to the letter. Take the prescribed supplements and medicines on time. Inform the father and relatives to the upcoming addition to the family. Avoid any stress and excessive amounts of work. Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.
Discovering you’re pregnant brings a myriad of emotions rushing towards you all at once. For many first time mothers, pregnancy can be a scary and stressful process as their bodies are doing a lot of new things. It is important to understand that changes in the body are perfectly normal as it is preparing to grow and support a life. At any case, do not fret to call your physician with any questions or concerns.
A leaking of colostrum is a perfectly normal occurrence that simply signifies that a woman is with child. If you know you are pregnant but do not leak colostrum, do not worry. The leaking of colostrum varies from mother to mother and if you don’t leak, just consider yourself lucky not having to deal with wearing breast pads every day. But if you do leak colostrum, there is no need to be embarrassed. You are going to support life from within and leaking breasts is just a small reminder of that fact.
Hi! I’m Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I’d love to share my discoveries with you too!
Follow me on Twitter @SarahsLovelyFam