Breastfeeding With Large Breasts

Mother with large breasts breastfeeding her baby
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If you have large breasts—whether they started out that way, or they got very big during pregnancy and the first few weeks postpartum—you may have concerns about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding with large breasts can be more difficult for first-time moms. 

It can be a challenge to find a comfortable position where you can see your baby's mouth and your nipple, making it harder to get the baby latched on correctly. It can also be awkward and uncomfortable to hold your breasts and your baby, especially if you are in pain from the delivery. Plus, you may be worried that your breasts are so big that they will block your child's nose.

Suffocation

Many women with larger breasts worry that their breast will block their baby's nose while breastfeeding. But don't worry: If your baby's nose gets blocked, they will stop breastfeeding, release the latch, open their mouth, and breathe. Even so, you may feel a little better if you try latching your baby on in an asymmetrical latch. This latch technique lifts the baby's nose off of your breast.  

All of these concerns are normal. However, with a little help from the beginning, you can get breastfeeding off to a good start. Once you're feeling more comfortable, your baby is latching on well, and you establish a healthy milk supply, breastfeeding will become easier. 

Large Breasts and Breast Milk Supply

Your breast size does not determine the amount of milk-making tissue you have or how much breast milk you will make. Women with large breasts could have a healthy supply of breast milk, an overabundant milk supply, or a low supply of breast milk.

Low Breast Milk Supply

Certain conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), obesity, hypothyroidism, and insulin resistance can affect production of breast milk. It's important to have your baby monitored by a doctor to ensure that they are gaining weight and growing well.

Too Much Breast Milk

An overabundant breast milk supply can cause issues for both you and your baby. Too much milk can lead to breast engorgement and pain. Severe engorgement can make it very difficult for your baby to latch on. Your child may also gag and choke from a strong milk let-down and/or become fussy and gassy.

Tips for Breastfeeding With Large Breasts

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start begins with the very first breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in a comfortable position is important for all moms, but it's especially important for moms with bigger breasts. The weight of your breasts alone can put excess strain on your back and neck. Breastfeeding in an uncomfortable position will add to that. 

Ask the hospital nursing staff, a lactation consultant, or your midwife to show you which positions work well for breastfeeding with larger breasts and learn how to use bed pillows or a nursing pillow for additional support. The football hold and the side-lying breastfeeding position are good choices to start out with. These tips can also make breastfeeding a little easier.

  1. Be prepared. If you can, take a breastfeeding class while you're pregnant to learn different positions and holds. When you have little knowledge and information ahead of time, it can help you feel more comfortable and confident once your baby arrives.
  2. Support your breasts. Large breasts full of breast milk are heavy. A supportive nursing bra will hold up the extra weight of your breasts and help prevent back pain. Your pre-breastfeeding bras will most likely be too small, so invest in a few nursing bras in your new size. You may even benefit from a bra fitting to get the right size, fit, and support. 
  3. Learn the c-hold. The C-hold is one of the ways you can hold your breast while you're latching your baby on. When you have larger breasts, the c-hold can help you to support your breast and aim your nipple toward your baby's mouth. This breast hold may make latching on easier for your baby.
  4. Breastfeed in front of a mirror. If it's difficult to see your baby's mouth and your nipple, try breastfeeding while sitting in front of or next to a mirror. The mirror can give you a better view of your breast and your baby's latch
  5. Soften your breasts if they are hard and full of breast milk. If your breasts are engorged and overfull, use a breast pump or hand express some of your breast milk before you begin breastfeeding.This will soften your breast and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
  6. Treat engorgement and overabundant supply. Talk to your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant and learn how to manage these issues so they don't lead to more serious complications.
  7. See your baby's doctor regularly for weight checks. Since breastfeeding issues such as low breast milk supply or overabundant breast milk supply can affect large-breasted women, you should have your baby's growth monitored by their doctor. You want to be sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk, but also that they are not gaining too much weight too quickly.
  8. Follow your child's lead. As your baby gets older, they may be able to get more breast milk at each feeding and wait a little longer between feedings. Pay attention to your baby's hunger cues and weight gain to prevent overfeeding.
  9. Ask for help. It's OK to be worried and have questions, and it's OK to ask those questions and seek help. Your doctor is always a good resource and starting point when you need help, so talk to her about your concerns. A lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group can also provide encouragement and support.

How Breast Surgery Affects Breastfeeding

Whether you've had implants to get your breasts to the size they are now, or you've had your large breasts reduced in size, breast surgery is another issue that could cause breastfeeding problems. So, if you've had any type of breast surgery, tell your doctor. 

In many cases, breastfeeding with implants can be done successfully. However, any surgery that involves cutting the nerves and milk ducts surrounding the areola is likely to have a negative effect on breastfeeding. You'll need to keep a close eye on your breast milk supply and your baby's growth if you're breastfeeding after breast surgery.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Your guide to breastfeeding. Updated October 08, 2018.

Additional Reading
  • Berens P, Brodribb W. ABM clinical protocol #20: Engorgement, revised 2016. Breastfeed Med. 2016;11:159-63. doi:10.1089/bfm.2016.29008.pjb

  • Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession (8th edition). Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015.

  • Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (4th edition). Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2014.

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