How Long After Breastfeeding Will I Continue Leaking Milk?
If only there were a definitive answer... But this expert advice from certified lactation consultants will help demystify the journey.
Some parents might not even bat an eye; other parents might think, “What the heck is going on right now?!” Leaking breast milk after weaning — or leaking breast milk when you haven’t even breastfed at all — happens. Sometimes unexpectedly. And it can continue to happen days, weeks, or even months after you stop breastfeeding. While there are worse things, it’s bound to make a parent wonder when they will stop leaking milk if they’re no longer breastfeeding. And the frequency of leaking can be impacted by whether or not a parent breastfeeds.
How Long After I Stop Breastfeeding Will I Still Be Leaking Milk?
During the time you’re breastfeeding, you probably shouldn’t be surprised by moments of leaking, shared La Leche League International (LLLI); that’s where nursing pads might come into play. But as the body grows accustomed, shared The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leaking should decrease in frequency.
How often breasts leak after weaning will depend on how long you were breastfeeding, says lactation consultant Andrea Tran, IBCLC. “A parent who breastfed for a few weeks or months may only produce for a few days to a few weeks after fully weaning. A parent who breastfeeds for a year or more may find they can produce for months or even years after fully weaning. They usually don’t leak, but can express drops,” Tran tells Romper. “If they went through a period where they couldn’t express anything and then all of a sudden can, they should get that evaluated by a healthcare provider.”
It’s important to note: Leaking milk is different than expressing milk to purposely alleviate breasts, shares LLLI. If you’ve breastfed a child and find you are leaking milk for weeks or months after stopping, maybe consider a few factors before checking in with a healthcare provider. “While not super common, it is not unusual,” Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, tells Romper. “Nipple stimulation from sexual relations, friction from bras, or checking breasts for milk can stimulate milk production.”
I Never Breastfed, So Why Are My Breasts Leaking Milk?
If a postpartum parent never breastfed, “the milk will still come in because of the shift in hormones,” says Tran, a lactation consultant for over 27 years. It is common for milk to arrive three to five days post-childbirth, as per literature from The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Breasts may leak for days, or even weeks. But, Tran says, “it would be unusual for it to happen longer than a couple weeks.” If you have questions about leaking and nipple discharge, don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider and request a conversation or appointment.
Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE
Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant
(2009) Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. World Health Organization, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148955/
Adigun, R., Sajadi-Ernazarova, K., Sugumar, K. (2021) Breast Nipple Discharge. StatPearls, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430938/