The anticipation of all those pregnancy symptoms can leave you with questions. It is very normal to start producing milk in the weeks or even months before your baby is born. As your uterus is going through changes to nurture your baby for the next 40 weeks, your breasts are going through changes to feed your baby after birth. As your hormone levels rise, your breast tissue and milk ducts go into action and begin making baby’s first milk, colostrum. In some women, some of this milk leaks out. Learn when this can happen, what is going on with your body, and some experiences of other moms.

When Will My Boobs Start Leaking Milk?

From the moment your pregnancy test turns positive, your body has already been going through some major changes. When do breasts start leaking? The answer is you may or may not leak milk at all. If you do, some women have reported it as early as the 12th week of pregnancy. Some don’t leak until after their baby is born. Rarely, it has been reported that milk began to leak as early as the 3rd week of pregnancy. It just depends on how your body reacts to this process.

This first milk, colostrum, is like liquid gold for your baby. Baby’s don’t eat much the first few days as they recover from delivery. This milk is very high in protein, and low in sugar/fat, to make it very easily digestible for their new little tummy. It is also high in antibodies to help prevent your baby from getting sick the first few days and help fight off any germs that may entered through mom’s birth canal.

What It Means When You Leak Milk During Pregnancy?

In early pregnancy, leaking milk early is just a normal response to pregnancy hormones. Your body knows just what to do and your breasts getting ready will take the same amount of time as your developing baby. Milk leaking is just a sign that things are going right on schedule. Your breasts may just be overly productive and be engorged early on.

In mid pregnancy or second trimester, some women may be concerned that leaking milk is a sign of preterm labor. The good news is if you just have leaking milk with no other signs like contractions, lower pelvic pain, bleeding from your vagina, or lower back pain, then this is just a sign that your breasts are continuing to get ready. You may however, begin having “Braxton Hicks” contractions around this time. These are “practice contractions” that may be concerning when you first feel them. If you have any kind of contractions and leaking milk, it is a good idea to check with your doctor just to be sure.

Later in pregnancy, around week 38, leaking milk could be a sign of imminent labor within days to weeks. Your baby may be dropping low and you feel more pressure on your bladder and hips. Your doctor may even tell you that your cervix is getting ready for labor and delivery by softening and dilating. At this time, it is highly probable that you have already seen this thin, yellow colored milk in spots on your bra.

What Can I Do About Leaking Milk?

When will my boobs start leaking milk?”First know that it is normal to leak some milk during pregnancy and if it happens there are a few ways to help make you more comfortable. These tips include:

  • Buy a good maternity/nursing bra

When you shop for maternity clothes, make sure you get fitted for a good maternity/nursing bra. These are bras that have extra room for growing breast cup sizes and extra support. A good tip is to get a padded nursing bra that can cover over the nursing pads you will use inside so they don’t show through your clothing.

  • Invest in a box of nursing pads

Invest in a box of disposable or even washable nursing pads to put in your bra. During early pregnancy may not be very much, but as pregnancy progresses the leakage may increase enough to cause wetness in your bra.

  • Take a hot shower

If you become engorged with milk and your boobs are leaking, you can try standing in a hot shower to help get some relief. While your milk won’t let down until after your baby is born, the hot water will increase circulation to your breasts and soften them.

Experiences of Other Expectant Moms

When will my boobs start leaking milk? Here are a few stories from other moms to help answer your question:

“ I started leaking milk at around my 8th week of pregnancy with both of my babies. It started to increase right around my 37th week and I even needed to start wearing breast pads. After they were born, I leaked a lot in between feedings so I made sure that I had a box of breast pads in every room. One time, I even had to stuff my bra with toilet paper. I thought there was something wrong with me because I leaked so much, but my doctor said it was perfectly normal.”  --Katie, age 32

“I started to leak around 16 weeks, but not a lot of milk. I just noticed some yellow spots in my bra. I found that a hot shower and gently massaging my breasts helped them when they felt like they were filling up. Towards the end of my pregnancy I noticed more leakage, so I bought a nursing bra and pads before I delivered. It really wasn’t even enough to soak the pads though.” --Sarah, age 24


“I’m in the 32nd week of my pregnancy and just this week I started noticing some drops of fluid on my nipples when I take off my pajamas. My breasts hurt really bad and seem to be very full in the morning when I wake up. I hoped it wasn’t a sign of early labor, but the doctor reassured me that it was just another pregnancy symptom that can appear around this time. I’ve never been pregnant, so it was concerning at first.” --Angela, age 20