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 some concerns about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding with large breasts can be more difficult for first-time moms. 

Concerns About Breastfeeding With Large Breasts

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, and you'll suffocate your little one while he's nursing.

All of these concerns are normal. However, with a little help from the beginning, you can get over your worries and 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 for your baby, breastfeeding will become easier and more natural. 

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 breast milk supply, too. 

A Low Breast Milk Supply: Bigger breasts mean more breast milk, right? Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Just because you have big breasts, it doesn't mean that you'll automatically have a lot of breast milk. 

On occasion, even a woman with large breasts can have a problem with a low supply of breast milk.

Certain conditions such as PCOS, obesity, hypothyroidism, and insulin resistance can affect the production of breast milk. So, it's important to have your baby monitored by a doctor to ensure that he or she is gaining weight and growing well.

Making Too Much Breast Milk: On the other hand, large breasts do have the potential to produce too much breast milk. But, is that really a problem? An overabundant breast milk supply sounds like a blessing. But, the truth is, it can cause issues for both you and your baby.

The production of too much breast milk can lead to breast engorgement and pain.

Severe engorgement can make your breasts hard and flatten your nipples which can make it very difficult for your baby to latch on. Your child may also gain weight very quickly, gag and choke from a strong milk let-down, and become fussy and gassy.

Tips for Breastfeeding With Large Breasts

Breastfeeding with big breasts may not be an issue for you at all. However, you may be worried and wondering what you can do to get off on the right foot and make breastfeeding your baby a little easier. It may take a little work on your part, but you can do it. Here are ten tips for breastfeeding with very large breasts. 

  1. Be prepared. If you can, take a breastfeeding class while you're pregnant to learn how to latch your baby on in different positions and holds. Buy a breastfeeding book, borrow a few from the library, or do a search for the basics of breastfeeding online. 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. Get help from the beginning. 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 just add to that. A good position can also help you to learn to latch your baby on to your breast, which is another thing that may be more difficult with bigger breasts. Ask the 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. And, don't worry, it won't be long before you can do it on your own.
  4. 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, especially when you're first starting out.
  5. 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 as he latches on to your breast
  6. Soften your breasts if they are hard and full of breast milk. If your breasts are tense and overfull, you can use a breast pump or hand express some of your breast milk before you begin breastfeeding. By removing some of your breast milk before you start nursing your baby, it will soften your breast and make it easier for your baby to latch on.
  7. Treat breast engorgement and an overabundant breast milk supply. Even if you have small breasts, they can become swollen and very large if you suffer from severe breast engorgement or a superabundant supply of breast milk. Talk to your doctor and learn how to deal with and treat these issues so they aren't such a problem and they don't lead to more serious complications.
  8. See your baby's doctor regularly for weight checks. Since breastfeeding issues such as a low breast milk supply or an overabundant breast milk supply can affect large breasted women, you should have your baby's growth monitored by his doctor. You want to be sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk, but you also want to make sure that he is not gaining too much weight too quickly.
  9. Follow your child's lead. One of the positive things about having bigger breasts when you're breastfeeding is that they may be able to hold more breast milk than smaller breasts. As your baby gets older, she may be able to get more breast milk at each feeding and wait a little longer between feedings. But, pay attention to your baby's hunger cues and weight gain to prevent overfeeding her.
  10. It's OK to ask for help. It's OK to be worried and have questions, and it's OK to ask those questions and seek out help. All moms need support and reassurance, whether they have large breasts, small breasts, or average-sized breasts. Your doctor is always a great 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.

You Won't Suffocate Your Baby With Your Breasts

Suffocating your baby with your breast is a scary thought. If you're worried that your breast will block your baby's nose while you're breastfeeding, you're not alone. It's a fear that many women with large breasts have.

If your baby is breastfeeding and his nose gets blocked, he'll stop breastfeeding, release the latch, open his 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.  

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 the 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
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  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Your Guide to Breastfeeding. Updated October 08, 2018.

Additional Reading
  • Berens P, Brodribb W, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM Clinical Protocol# 20: Engorgement, Revised 2016. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2016 May 1;11(4):159-63.
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD.  Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.
  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.
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