What is colostrum and why are my breasts leaking?


Your body is an amazing machine, not only does it create and grow your baby inside of you, it equips you to look after your baby when the time comes for it to enter the world. If you’re nearing the latter stages of pregnancy and have noticed your breasts are leaking what seems to be milk, you might be wondering if that’s normal.

Well, it is very normal, in fact, it’s great. But it’s not technically milk, but rather colostrum – sounds weird but it’s actually really incredible stuff and so important for your baby.

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is a thick, creamy, yellow-tinged fluid and is what you will feed your baby in those first few days after they are born and while you are waiting for your breastmilk to come in.

Colostrum is high in protein, low in sugar and fat – making it easily digestible for your new bub.

It is also full of incredible antibodies and nutrients to protect them from any nasties on the outside world while their little body builds up its defense mechanisms. Colostrum is often referred to as “Liquid Gold” for all the incredible qualities it possesses.

Why does the colostrum leak?

Some, but not all women may find their breasts begin to leak colostrum, usually in the third trimester. Your body is making sure you are all ready to look after your baby as soon as they arrive, so some women find this kicks in a little earlier. If you haven’t noticed it, you might try squeezing your nipple gently and some might come out. Don’t worry if it doesn’t though, it doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t indicate you are going to have a low supply. If you find however that yours does leak, you may want to bust out those nipple pads you have packed in your hospital bag.

Should I do anything about it?

Embrace it! It’s a wonderful thing and leaking breasts will become the norm once you are breastfeeding your baby so get used to it.

Even if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding (or your breastfeeding journey doesn’t go as you would have hoped) giving your baby this colostrum in the first few days can be hugely beneficial for their immunity and beneficial for their ongoing health.

Some women even start to express colostrum in the final weeks of pregnancy in preparation for feeding their baby or in case any complications arise for either them or the baby in those precious first few days. 

When will my milk come in?

It varies for every woman, but generally, your milk should come in anywhere between two and five days after the birth – you will notice the colour change from yellow-ish to a more white, creamier looking fluid, resembling cow’s milk. You may also notice with this change that your breasts get bigger and may become engorged as they fill with milk. They should eventually settle back down once your supply adjusts to your baby’s needs, this is why it is very important you feed as much as possible in those early days to get the supply up, help them regulate and prevent build-ups of milk in your milk ducts that can lead to mastitis.

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Choosing the best feeding option for your baby
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6 things you need to know about feeding your baby… (in the first year)

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