Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I have so much to write, but every time I sit down and finally have a second either: 1- my brain goes blank; or 2- Sacha wakes up from his nap. Here I am... but the little guy seems like he is about to stir.

I have a million questions, and two million things to tell you about (and that I want to record for posterity), but I will stick to the single most pressing issue du moment.

Of course, it's about breastfeeding. (Ok, it very well could have been about sleeping or pooping, but this time: it's not!)

Here's the thing: Sacha is a champion breast-sucker. Pretty much from the middle of his second week things have been smooth sailing for him in the breastfeeding department. (We were off to a rocky start due to my insecurities coupled with Sacha's 3 days in the NICU, but I had a lactation consultant come in immediately when we got home, and she helped us out immensely.)

As you can imagine, I am thrilled beyond belief that my boobs are working to feed my little boy. I actually never thought I would be able to do it, you know, what with the fucked up hormones and all. And I'm certainly not all smug and fanatic about breastfeeding. I pump from time to time, and my mother and The C have both been able to feed Sacha from a bottle.

So the question/ advice that I need today is not about the baby and the breast. It's about ME. (Yes, me, me, me.) This is going to be totally TMI, but I don't know where to turn to talk about this...

The problem I am having arises only at night, and it is two fold.

First: While during the day my breast hardly leak at all (as in I don't really need to wear breast pads, but as I have leaked about 2 times, I wear them just in case), at night I find that they leak pretty much out of control. If I'm lying on my side then I get huge, soaking spots on the bottom sheet, and it I'm lying on my back I soak the top sheet. (In terms of timing, I usually feed the baby at 8 before putting him to bed, then he feeds at 1-2 am, and then again at 5-6 am.)

Second: I have been having unbelievable night sweats. Again, nothing during the day whatsoever. But at night I am soaked. And again, my sweats are soaking my sheets. Top sheet and bottom sheet. And so much sweat that the other night I had The C bring me a towel to put on top of me because i was absolutely dripping.

I have tried to "deal" with the two situations above by putting a waterproof pad down on the bed. (I procured it from the hospital post-partum... thank goodness I had the foresight to, umm, bring it home with me! I thought I would need it for bleeding at night...) In the morning the pad is so wet that I joke to The C that I can just have Sacha suck on it for his morning meal. It gets very cold when I get up in the middle of the night, making it very uncomfortable to come back to bed. And also it is very hard to turn during the night as the pad is so wet that it literally sticks to me.

I know that the the leaking and night sweats are related: the higher levels of prolactin due to breastfeeding cause sweating (I read about it in brief here.) So I know in theory that what is going on is, perhaps, normal. BUT I don't feel normal. In fact I feel disgusting, gross and wet. (How yucky is it to have to ask your husband to get you a towel to put between yourself and the top sheet because you are pouring sweat!)

So... I need help.

Firstly- really, is this normal? Is this just one of those things that no one talks about/doesn't want to tell you about?

Second- How come I am leaking so much- should my supply not be all "regulated" by now? Sacha eats pretty regularly (in terms of quantity consumed and number of feedings per day.)

Third- What can I do about it? (The leaking and the sweating.) Does anyone have any solutions for me? (Sleeping with a bra and nursing pads is not really an option- I will leak right through...)

(And, before you ask, yes I sleep with nothing on, because how double gross would it be to leak and sweat through pjs. Oy!)

(And also: I feel pretty bad/guilty writing about this. Like in the same way as I did about writing about pregnancy after IF. I'm so sorry if I'm offending any of you out there who are thinking: if only I had these problems. I know that feeling. I will never be able to forget that.)


The Town Criers said...

Don't feel guilty--you have questions/someone may have answers. I don't but let's post in L & F to see if it can hit more people--maybe get an answer? Have you described the situation to your OB?

sky girl said...

This didn't happen to me but I would suggest sleeping with a nursing bra on (even though you may not want to). The OB nurses told me too so I wonder if the fact that your breasts aren't supported at night might make a difference with supply/leaking? Worth a try.

RE: the sweat, I have NO idea but it sounds awfully uncomfortable.

I'll be checking back to see what your readers have to say.

carrie said...

This didn't happen to me either, but I second the bra/nursing pad thing for sleeping - maybe there is something to the support thing.

Other suggestion is to pump before you go to bed - your boobs won't be as full for the 1am feeding and maybe it will help with at least the initial leaking a bit.

Have you called the lactation consultant to ask about it? I don't have any advice about the sweating - it sounds fairly severe so I would definitely mention it to your doc. I'll definitely be checking back in to see what other advice you get...

bleu said...

I suggest sleeping with a bra as well, just for a while. PLEASE KNOW THIS, it will change. Things will mellow out as some time goes by. It IS normal. Making sure your diet is really balanced with lots of protein and calcium can also help. Make sure you are drinking twice what you think you need. It also helps.

You are doing great mama.

Katherine said...

I had the exact same thing happen to me, both the insane leaking and the sweating. I vividly remember the feeling of waking up in a cold puddle, it's definitely not pleasant! I tried pumping before bed and that helped a little but it also kept me awake later and that made me crabby. For a while I slept with a sleep bra on and breastpads that I changed every time he ate. I had an over-supply for a few months, so it took until he was around 12-16 weeks to completely regulate, but it did and I stopped leaking gradually. The pressure provided by a sleep bra may help prevent some of the leaking, so that's worth a shot. It will get better!

Larisa said...

Well, it did pretty much happen to me. Even though it was winter.

The only thing that worked for me was to wear one of those really soft sleep nursing bras (I liked a medela one that was not made out of cotton) with two types of nursing pad. Yes, two. One pair of fabric re-usable lined with a pair of the super absorbent leak-proof paper kind. And I usually had to change both once during the night.

Night sweats - I just had another pair of pajamas immediately available. Not cotton might be helpful here, too - cotton just soaks up moisture and doesn't let it evaporate quickly. You need some dri-fit pjs. ;)

It does eventually stop. I can't remember when. I do still wear a pair of disposable pads at night. But often, they aren't soaked at all any more.

I don't know if any of that helps.

sariel & shlomit said...

Ugh. I feel for you....of course, have no experience in this department....try your midwife maybe?
thinking of you often....
peace and love,

Waiting Amy said...

Yes, I had the sweating. It is NOT fun. I think it is also do to the dropping levels of estrogen in your body after pg (just like in menopause your estrogen is dropping). There is no easy answer to the sweating, but I would mention it to your Dr. if it seems excessive or is lasting a prolonged time.

No brilliant suggestions for the leaking other than what you've already heard. Good LUCK and don't feel bad for asking advice!

JuliaS said...

Nursing bra to bed helps, honestly - it keeps pressure to the boobs which helps reduce the potential to let down and let loose. I put a towel down over the blue chucks and that reduces the "sticking" or one of those crib size waterproof lap pad type things. You could try expressing a bit of milk before bed - refrigerate it for later use. A bedside fan - you could get one of those big floor fans and aim it right at your head. Helps with the sweating. If you go to the Hystersisters site (I know - but it's relevant to me at this stage in life) - they have pillows that stay cool for women with hot flashes. I was thinking of getting one just for summer, hot flashes aside. I also sweated fantastically the first several weeks afterward. Your fluid volume increases a ton during pg, your bod has to run it off somehow - add to that fabulous hormonal fluctuations and your vacillating between walking on the sun and just sitting in the oven for a bit.

I found I could leak quite a bit the first couple months. (I also jetted milk) Are you using reusable pads or disposable? Disposables were miserable and made me hotter. They have cotton flannel and even wool (don't knock it - it is amazing, absorbs a ton and doesn't feel wet even when it is soaked). Way better option than those plasticky nightmares that ended up making me break out. There are also things call breast shields - they also apply pressure to the nipples to reduce leaking.

Sorry - - long reply. Just - I have SO been there. :0) I so know I was a wet nurse in a former life. You are normal, it shall pass.

Good luck and congratulations!

Jen said...

It is normal. Your supply may not regulate until your baby is 3 months old. I had major leaking and engorgement problems overnight on and off for at least the first two months. It was gross but I never did anything about it other than sleep on a towel.

However, you may want to try LilyPadz breastpads. They are silicone (I think) and do not absorb - instead they apply pressure to prevent leaking. They are supposed to be amazing, according to my friends who have used them. They would provide even more pressure than a bra but aren't supposed to cause blocked ducts or anything.

Hang in there - good luck!

Duck said...

Sorry I got nothing for you, my breasts have never served a meaningful purpose before, but I saw your question on lost and found so of course I was curious as to how the other half live (the ones that make it to that knocked up side) then I noticed that you live in Montreal and SO DO I - it's the first time i have come across someone else blogging in montreal, so I just decided to say "salut".

tragicoptimist said...

I had both problems. I, too was sleeping with nothing on, but in the end, I ended up wearing a really light-weight nursing bra, and it helped. It didn't stop the leaking, but it did help some. For part of the time, I tried wearing my lilypadz at night, and while it helped the leaking, it ended up hurting my nipples too much because they never had a chance to dry off. For some reason wearing just a nursing bra didn't bother me. I had the same sweating problem, I remember being told that it was because my body was still trying to get rid of all the excess water that I had been retaining. I never found much to help it, but it did get better. Good luck!

Skerry said...

Former leaker here, consider a front closure sports bra in conjunction with breast pads. It will provide support and still allow for easy access if middle of the night feedings occur. It's possible that that your sheets are stimulating your nipples during the night as you move around during sleep,causing your breasts to have the let-down reflex thus causing you to wake in a sea of breastmilk. The sweating, it gets better, I wore above mentioned sports bra and boxers and had an extra set by the bed at night if I woke up soaked in sweat, it also helped to have a fan blowing in my general direction, fortunately the night sweats go away as your hormones get regulated. Good luck and best wishes for a comfortable dry night sleep.

Kim said...

I had the sweating - not as much as you but I woke up soaked around my neck and on my back. My OB said it was hormonal - there were so many hormones during the pregnancy and that when levels drop and they normalize that it can cause excess sweating.

The leaking is a mystery to me. I did leak like that a few times at night but it was later on when they started sleeping through feedings. But then again I always wore a snug but not too tight nursing bra and pads to bed, I did soak the pads a few times. I have also heard that is normal to make more milk at certain times of the day. Yours just happens to be 2 am! I think things will calm down in a few weeks/months. But with anything call you OB to be sure. I always put off calling and feel so much better after I do! I look at it like they have probably heard it before and if not I might make it into a famous journal article! lol

Alex said...

Never commented before but I found your blog a while ago through a friend of a friend etc.

There are things called Lily Padz that are silicon nursing pads that basically...stick to your breasts. They don't have adhesive, they just...stick. I was going to get them but my night leaking settled out and as I am on my 3rd baby I didn't leak nearly as much after the first couple months, night or day. Your breasts do eventually "learn" The one problem is that by "plugging the leak" you may then cause yourself to engorge which is even worse than leaking all least in terms of pain and the ability to screw up your supply. I found sleeping with a bra made lumps and bumps apprear the next morning and ducts could get plugged. Its not about be honest too much support or the wrong fitting bra in the beginning can cause problems(like plugged ducts) because your breasts are still levelling out and growing and a bra thats too tight can cause plugged ducts or mastitis type issues. Many people recommened just wearing a a loose fitting tank top sports style bra to be comfortable and not...flopping, but also allow your breasts to change in the first few months.

Night sweats are faily normal...especially since it sounds like you have good production and hormone levels etc. I had them and I didn't know if it was from nursng hormones or the result of a c-section as I'd heard that both can cause them. I would wake up dripping and sopping and well...pretty much what you were like. But it DOES stop. Your baby is still young and as his milk needs change so will your hormones and supply "results" I used to just use a water proof pad...but one that was a covered one...because if its just a plastic one without anything absorbant around it, you'll just sweat more. So if you do use a pad...make sure you put it under your sheet and then have a towel(or 3) on top of it and then your sheet.

I am still nursing my 3rd baby and he is 19 months old and I still occasionally get leaks. Its just part of the joy of motherhood...but it really does get better. Maybe get a fan in your room(if baby isn't there or he's out of the way of it) and blow it on you. That was a lifesaver for me.

vineland said...

Hi, just popped over to your blog for the first time. I can't entirely remember all those blurry early month details, I should have blogged!
I do remember waking up engorged with my first - he was the sleeper. The public health nurse was very concerned that I only pump a few minuets, and reduce the amount of pumping each night. pumping for longer builds up supply and you want to reduce it. I didn't listen and got mastitis, so it is good to leak vs. become engorged, but best to lower your milk supply. Bras sound like an excellent idea, but if you decide to pump, check with a public health nurse about how to reduce the supply while pumping.

Aurelia said...

Get some more leakproof pads for your bed so that when you leak at night you can just throw it off the bed and replace it with a dry one.

I think you need to try a bra at night with lilypadz or some other brand of pad, simply because I think your nipples are getting stimulated from sheet friction. Which is giving you let down.

And yes. Try to pump a little before bed, not too much, but enough to reduce your engorgement.

Penny said...

My experience is that the sweats were temporary (a few weeks), and went away. The leaking stayed on a while longer (a few months). Wear breast pads and a a bra, and if you can't stand the wetness then pump once during the night.

Usually your breasts will simmer down after a while and behave.

I've never heard of the prolactin thing, but honestly I wouldn't worry about it. So you have high prolactin - so what? You're boobs are just over-achievers. Unless it's causing more discomfort than leakiness, I'd say just hang in there.

Nearlydawn said...

I did the sweating and leaking too. Man, my shirt and sheets were so soaked and smelly. Ewwww sweaty milk smell. It seems like the sweating stopped after about wk 4. I didn't keep BF, so I don't know when the leaking would have stopped normally...

btw - don't apologize for asking baby questions. Everyone that is reading you KNOWS you have a baby and would expect you to write about it.

Motel Manager said...

I didn't have leaking but did have massive night sweats. I think it's just the hormones from pregnancy working themselves out, and it went away after a few weeks.

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