HomePregnancyBreast Leaking During Pregnancy: Is it Normal – Understand Why?

Breast Leaking During Pregnancy: Is it Normal – Understand Why?


Pregnancy comes with its fair share of changes and other pregnancy related symptoms. You can anticipate some symptoms during the term of your pregnancy, including possible nausea, possible swelling of the feet, and numerous aches, pains, and discomforts as your tummy swells. 

However, there are some other changes that may not be as apparent as others. These other changes take place without your knowledge, such as your increasing blood volume, cervical effacement as your due date approaches, and the creation of colostrum in your breasts in preparation for the baby’s first meal.

Then there are also some aspects of pregnancy that could surprise you. Did you know, for instance, that when pregnant, you could leak breast milk?  Breast leaking during pregnancy is not a topic that is frequently discussed. Milk leakage is typically thought of being an event that happens after the birth of your baby.

Even though not every woman experiences it, breast leaking during pregnancy is extremely common among expecting mothers. You must be thinking what causes this to happen? This occurs because only a few weeks before the baby is due, your body starts producing milk, preparing itself for the baby’s arrival.

Breast leaking during the third trimester of pregnancy is therefore typical.

If it is happening to you during your pregnancy, then don’t panic! Here’s the reason and all that you need to know behind this completely normal pregnancy phenomenon.

What Is Colostrum?

Colostrum, sometimes known as “liquid gold,” is the precursor to the breast milk that will soon nourish your infant baby and is known for its extraordinary antibody and vitamin content.

Colostrum supplies your baby with all the nutrition and fluids they require in the early days, as well as a number of compounds that safeguard your child against infections.

This yellowish, somewhat sticky fluid will be your baby’s first superfood until your real milk comes in, around the third or fourth day postpartum. The reason for its color and thickness is that it contains more of these beneficial nutritional components. (Colostrum is also richer in protein, somewhat lower in sugar, and much lower in fat when compared to fully developed human milk.)

While your breasts will not feel full on the day after birth, you will have enough colostrum to nurse your baby. After giving birth, your body will continue to make colostrum for a few days until the milk “comes in,” when it starts to rise in volume and turn more creamy or white.

Until then your baby will need just a few teaspoons of the antibody-rich colostrum per feeding for all their nutritional requirements. And though it’ll seem like only a little colostrum is there, your breasts will be producing more than your little one will need to fill her tiny tummy.

Is Breast Leaking Normal During Pregnancy?

Yes. Leaking milk during pregnancy is thought to be common and normally causes no concern. Just letting expectant mothers know that there is nothing to be embarrassed about as well! Your body is getting ready to start making milk far earlier than your due date as it gets ready to care for your baby when it arrives. It’s a healthy indicator that your body is getting ready for your baby’s birth by increasing your milk production.

This does not imply that milk is abundant and spills everywhere at this time. Many women will discover little white or yellowish droplets on their nipples. This milk frequently becomes dried and crusted on your nipples, the inside of your bra, or the inside of your shirt.

Right after delivery, the female breasts are working to provide a protein-rich feed for the baby. Colostrum, as it is known in medicine, is a substance that is produced before breast milk, which is used to breastfeed newborns.

Some women may leak more breast milk than others, while others may leak none at all. Many possibilities exist, and none are known to be abnormal or harmful to the mother and her arriving baby.

What Causes Breast Leaking During Pregnancy?

All expectant mothers should be aware that breast milk leakage is totally normal and often not a reason for concern. During pregnancy, specific factors lead to this nipple discharge.

The hormones at play are the cause of breast leaking during pregnancy, whether it is clear fluid or fluid that looks more like milk. But occasionally, the balance between the hormones is disturbed, and some milk might seep out earlier than expected.

The hormones estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin –  a key hormone that promotes milk production, prevent you from actively making much lactose, up until the time of delivery. This means that while all of this is going on, the placenta’s production of estrogen and progesterone is keeping your body from secreting milk until the baby is born.

According to studies, the hormones prolactin and oxytocin are responsible for breast leaking milk during pregnancy (colostrum initially and then breast milk).

Colostrum is an early type of milk that is creamy white or yellow in color. As time goes on, your prolactin levels start to rise. Colostrum includes antibodies that guard your infant against infection and is rich in protein.

When the breasts are aroused during sex or if they are brushed against your bra when exercising or engaging in another strenuous activity, the possibility of leaking increases.

When Do Breasts Leak During Pregnancy?

You could observe changes in your breasts soon after, or perhaps even before, you learn that you are pregnant. In actuality, breast changes are frequently one of the first pregnancy symptoms.


According to research, early milk discharge—also known as colostrum or nipple discharge—during the last few weeks or third trimester of pregnancy is thought to be completely normal among expecting mothers. 

However, breast milk production in pregnancy starts before the breasts start to leak milk. Typically, the first trimester is when production starts. Your breasts start to feel heavy, aching, and uncomfortable to the touch during the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. You can notice little lumps on your areolas known as Montgomery’s glands and darkening of your nipples. 

Your breasts are preparing to produce milk, which explains why you are seeing all these changes. Changes inside your breasts are also caused by hormones like progesterone and estrogen as milk ducts and glands begin to develop and grow.

Usually, between the 16th and 22nd week of pregnancy, the alveolar cells in your body begin to produce colostrum.

While you generally won’t start leaking colostrum right away, as your due date approaches in your third trimester, you might start leaking from your breasts. Most women experience it in the last several weeks of pregnancy.

A woman’s breasts leaking milk shortly after giving birth and while she is nursing is also frequently not a reason for alarm.

Breast Leaking During Pregnancy 2nd Trimester

As estrogen levels rise in the second trimester of pregnancy, breast leaking during pregnancy 2nd trimester is more frequent. As the milk ducts grow, your breasts will certainly feel heavy or full.

You can start experiencing breast leaking during the second trimester of pregnancy. This is due to the colostrum production that will start in your breasts (the first stage of breast milk formation). 

You might not be aware that your body is producing colostrum at this time, or you might begin experiencing breast milk leakage. While it’s okay to check to see whether any colostrum is coming out, don’t overstimulate the nipple as this might result in premature labor.

Breast Leaking During Pregnancy 3rd Trimester

Colostrum has a high concentration of proteins, immunoglobulins, and antibodies. It will help the newborn pass its first meconium poop and shield it from contagious infections. It is the greatest diet for a baby’s early days since it is readily digested and includes the proper nutrient balance.

Thus, breast leaking during the pregnancy 3rd trimester is to be expected and is fairly normal to happen. By the time you give birth, the colostrum will most likely be clear or light in color. It will continue to leak from the nipple during pregnancy third trimester and for a few days after birth, before changing into mature breast milk. 

Is Breast Leaking During Pregnancy Dangerous?

According to research studies, pregnant women’s breasts experience some important physiological changes throughout the term of pregnancy. Hormones are mostly responsible for these changes. Usually, the changes are normal and not always a symptom of concern.

It just so happens that pregnancy may not be the only reason for the changes in your breasts that you experienced during (or were able to witness throughout) pregnancy. They may occasionally be a sign of certain underlying tumors, either benign or malignant, and other related medical conditions.

It is very important that you communicate with your gynecologist frequently and go over any physical changes you see. Do not assume all on your own that your symptoms are pregnancy-related and ‘normal.

Role Of Hormones In Breast Leaking

When it comes to pregnancy, hormones and breast discharge are connected. When a woman is pregnant, hormones significantly influence the amount of milk that is produced and discharged. The majority of the breast’s tissue is adipose (commonly known as body fat) before pregnancy, with little to no glands or ductal development. During pregnancy, the amount of water, electrolytes, and fat in the breast rise due to the continuous and growing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. 

During pregnancy, the volume of the breasts increases significantly. This is due to the reason that the blood vessels of the breasts become more dilated and the blow supply flow doubles. 

Although right after birth is when colostrum is most likely to be produced, some women may also do so while they are pregnant. This early production is frequently a result of the body’s hormonal fluctuations.

However, pregnancy is not always a factor in cases of milk leakage or breast discharge. There may be more factors, such as:

  • In reaction to nipple or breast stimulation during intercourse
  • While you take a hot shower
  • Diseases connected to hormones, such as thyroid problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Antidepressants or birth control pills are among those who use medications.

Normal release often does not point to an issue. However, if the pattern of discharge changes or if discharge starts spontaneously, it may indicate an infection or other major issue.


  • What If I Don’t Leak Any Colostrum During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, some women leak quite a bit while others don’t leak at all. Everything falls within the usual range, and whether you leak or not has nothing to do with your capacity to produce adequate breast milk for your newborn.

  • Is Colostrum a sign of labor?

Leaking breasts are frequently misinterpreted as indicators of preterm labor since they typically occur during the final trimester of pregnancy. Uterine contractions may happen simultaneously with breast leakage during sex. Breast leakage does not, however, signal any signs of premature labor.

  • Can I express and store colostrum before having my baby?

Whether they have experienced breast leaking during pregnancy or not, some women decide to manually express some milk before giving birth. This is known as harvesting your Colostrum and it can be done in order to maintain a steady supply for feeding to your newborn when they arrive.

It may be advantageous for a variety of reasons. For instance, if you are expecting multiple children or if there are any issues establishing a latch after birth or nursing.

But you shouldn’t do this until you’re about 36–37 weeks along. For further information on how to properly collect and conserve your colostrum before giving birth, consult your doctor


During pregnancy, it might be unexpected to find breast milk on your nipples, bra, or clothing. You could be concerned that something is wrong with your body or with your pregnancy.

These are reasonable concerns, however, it happens frequently for expectant mothers to leak milk before delivery. The fact that your body is preparing to create breast milk for the infant is encouraging!

Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you have any more questions regarding breast milk leakage during pregnancy or any other changes your body is through in preparation for delivery, nursing, or breastfeeding.

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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