Breastfeeding With Small Breasts

A baby suckling the breast of his mother
Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

A common worry among new parents with small breasts is whether or not they will be able to breastfeed. You may even hear from friends or family that because of your tiny breasts, you won't make enough breast milk.

This is simply not true. Parents with small breasts can absolutely breastfeed and produce a healthy milk supply for their child.

Small Breasts and Milk Supply

Your breast size does not determine your ability to breastfeed. Women with breasts of all different shapes and sizes can breastfeed successfully. The size of your breasts largely depends on how much fat they contain, not the amount of alveoli (milk-making tissue).

People with larger breasts have more fat in their breasts, but they do not necessarily have a greater number of alveoli.

While women with small breasts can make enough breast milk, they may not be able to hold as much milk in their breasts as women with large breasts. Small breasts are like small containers, so they may not have a large storage capacity.

This simply means is that if you have small breasts, you may need to breastfeed more often, especially as your child grows. 

The Importance of a Good Latch

How well your child latches onto the breast during feedings is much more important than your breast size when it comes to milk production. Make sure your baby latches on completely and is able to get all the milk they want. This will help to empty your breasts and encourage your body to make more milk, increasing your supply over time.

Breast milk production also relies on demand. To make sure you continue producing enough milk for your baby, breastfeed often. Newborns eat very frequently, about every one to three hours and at least eight to 12 times a day.

It's important to breastfeed on demand instead of following a clock or a schedule. When you feed your baby on demand, even if it's every hour, it will help to ensure they are getting enough milk. 

Look for signs that your baby is getting enough breast milk (keeping track of your baby's wet diapers helps). Take your child to their pediatrician for all regularly scheduled well-baby visits, so they can monitor your baby's growth.

If your child is gaining weight well, that's the best sign that you're making enough breast milk.

Breast Size Changes

During pregnancy, your breasts go through changes to prepare for breastfeeding. They often increase in size and fullness, appearing much larger than they did before.

Your breasts may also grow during the two weeks after you have your baby. During this time, the production of breast milk is adjusting to your baby needs, so your breasts may become larger, swollen, and engorged with breast milk.

But even if you don't notice a change in the size of your breasts during pregnancy or the first few weeks after your baby is born, you can still breastfeed.

Talk to a doctor or midwife about your breasts and your breastfeeding concerns while you're pregnant. They can examine you and help you to feel more comfortable and confident about your ability to breastfeed.

If the breasts do not show any growth at all during pregnancy or the first week postpartum, it could mean that there is insufficient glandular tissue (hypoplastic breasts), a true low milk supply, or lactation failure.

These conditions are not common, but when they do happen, there is no breast milk or very little breast milk after delivery. Breastfeeding is still possible, although a supplement will be necessary.

Breast Surgery

Small breasts that result from a breast surgery can occasionally cause breastfeeding problems, but it all depends on the part of the breast affected by the surgery. With breast surgery, there is a risk of damage to the ducts and nerves involved in lactation.

A breast reduction often involves a cut near the areola, which may affect the function of the milk ducts. If there is damage to the milk ducts during the surgery, breastfeeding could be affected. Mastectomies, lumpectomies, or any procedure that requires the removal of breast tissue could also limit the amount of functioning breast tissue left to make milk.

Overall, with any type of breast surgery, the amount of milk produced depends on how the nerves function and how many connected ducts remain after the procedure.

If you are concerned about the impact of breast surgery on your ability to breastfeed, talk to a doctor or lactation consultant to discuss options for ensuring that you have a successful breastfeeding experience.

If you will be breastfeeding after breast surgery, it's important to monitor your baby and your milk supply. And again, even if aren't able to produce a full supply of breast milk, you can still breastfeed along with supplementation.

How to Breastfeed With Small Breasts

It is generally easier to help your baby latch on when you have small breasts, so you can breastfeed in any position that makes you feel comfortable.

The natural, laid-back nursing position is an excellent choice in the beginning when you and your baby are first learning to breastfeed together. These strategies may also help.

  • Breastfeeding hold: Holding your breast in the V-hold may be more comfortable than the C-hold if you have a smaller bust. Just be sure to keep your fingers out of the way of the areola.
  • Frequency: Breastfeed at least every two to three hours (eight to twelve times a day). Breastfeed from both breasts at each feeding. Your baby will get more breast milk if they nurse from both sides rather than just one side.
  • Latch: Make sure your baby is latching on correctly.
  • Support: Join a breastfeeding support group for advice and encouragement. Contact a lactation consultant if you have any questions or concerns.

Nursing Bras

A nursing bra is a helpful accessory for all breastfeeding parents, regardless of breast size. Options for small breasts can be harder to find, but nursing sports bras, seamless bras, and nursing crop tops often come in smaller sizes.

Don't make the mistake of buying a nursing bra that is a few sizes too big, hoping that your breasts will grow into it. You need one that fits well to provide support and comfort.

It's a good idea to get a nursing bra in your third trimester, when your breasts have probably starting growing. Choose one that fits when you buy it and has an adjustable band and plenty of stretch in the cups.

A Word From Verywell

Breastfeeding your newborn is an exciting time, and one that will pass all too quickly. Rest assured that you have nothing to worry about when it comes to breast size and your ability to breastfeed.

Parents with large or small breasts can successfully produce plenty of milk for their infants, with frequent feedings and a little practice to ensure their baby is latching on well.

5 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. Nemours KidsHealth. Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand. Reviewed February, 2015.

  2. Arbour MW, Kessler JL. Mammary hypoplasia: not every breast can produce sufficient milk. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2013;58(4):457-461. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12070.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Breastfeeding after breast or nipple surgery. Reviewed March 15, 2015.

  4. Kraut RY, Brown E, Korownyk C, et al. The impact of breast reduction surgery on breastfeeding: Systematic review of observational studiesPLoS One. 2017;12(10).doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186591

  5. CDC. Breast surgery. Last reviewed February 1, 2021.

Additional Reading
  • Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015.

  • Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2014.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.