Does heartburn during pregnancy really mean you’ll have a hairy baby? Does feeling more morning sickness guarantee a baby girl is in your future? Does having large breasts mean you’ll have more breast milk?
While some theories around your baby-to-be can seem far-fetched, others may seem very logical. If you have larger breasts you may be thinking you won’t have any milk supply issues. After all, it would appear like they should be a huge benefit in breastfeeding, right?
Sadly, believe it or not, larger breasts can actually make the breastfeeding process more complicated! (Yep, you read that right.) While everyone’s breastfeeding journey is unique, there are some challenges that occur more frequently and are specific to big breasted women.
Are you wondering now what your breast size will mean for your milk supply? Concerned that your baby will never learn to latch on your larger breasts? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the information and tips to help you navigate breastfeeding with bigger breasts!
A range of difficulties can exist for those with large breasts when they breastfeed. You may experience:
Worries about suffocation
Many parents worry about their baby’s nose getting blocked by their larger breast. Additionally, they may fear that their baby’s head will get trapped under their breast and they won’t be able to breathe.
Luckily finding the right hold can help ease your fears, but when you have a little newborn in your arms just the thought of harming them while breastfeeding can add extra stress!
Neck or back pain
Because larger breasts hang lower, you may be more tempted to bring your breast to your baby for feeds instead of bringing your baby to your breast. This can quickly result in neck or back pain!
You also may hunch over more during feeds and will have more weight to support on your chest, which can also lead to back and shoulder pain.
For a good latch, a baby needs to get lots of your areola in their mouth. With a bigger breast, a young infant may have a hard time getting their mouth open wide enough to get a deep enough latch.
Additionally, finding a good position to latch in can be harder with larger breasts. (Keep reading for hints on the best positions to encourage latching!)
Difficulties seeing what you’re doing
Bigger breasts can block the line of sight you rely on for helping your baby latch and observing how the feed is going. Depending on how a baby’s head is rotated, it may not be possible to see their chin drop or nose flare, little things that bring a nursing mother lots of comfort!
Plus the usual challenges that any breastfeeding parent might have
Large breasted breastfeeding parents are still breastfeeding parents. As a result, you can experience:
Though rest assured, you may not experience any of these challenges at all!
The size of your breasts is not connected with how much milk they will produce. How is this possible? Well, the amount of milk ducts you have is not connected to the amount of breast tissue. Different people have different proportions of ducts and fatty tissue, regardless of breast size.
This means that those breastfeeding parents with large breasts can experience over and under supply issues as easily as those with smaller breasts.
If you are worried about your supply, there are many things you can do to increase your milk supply including:
- Spend skin-to-skin time with your little one.
- Breastfeed frequently (especially in the early days!) and make sure that your breasts are fully drained. Remember, the cardinal rule of breastfeeding is supply and demand. Breasts will create more milk if the milk in them is drained.
- Pump after your baby feeds to increase stimulation to the breast area.
- Consume galactagogues, or foods noted for their ability to increase breast milk.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to dry up or diminish your supply you may:
- Pump or breastfeed less frequently, relying on previously stored breast milk or formula.
- Use cabbage leaves in your bra.
- Talk to your lactation consultant or healthcare provider about supplements or medications that reduce breast milk.
Yes, it’s true. If you are larger breasted, some holds may be easier than others. Which ones should you consider? Some of the best holds for those with larger breasts are:
Done lying down on your side, this is also a popular position with those who have had a Cesarean or are simply tired (so … everyone?).
This position can make it easier for you to see the latching process and watch your baby during the feed. Many find it easier to manipulate their breasts in this position as well. Additionally, side lying can be easier on the back and shoulders, since you’ll be in a reclined position with the shoulders, back, and neck well supported.
You can see it in action here.
Done upright, this position supports a baby along the side of the holder’s body, the way a football or rugby player carries a ball.
This position can make it easier to control the baby’s body and head during latching. It can also be easier to support the baby’s body during the feeding session than in a cross body position.
You can see video of this hold here.
Laid back breastfeeding (biological nurturing)
Done in a reclined position, this is a baby led latch. This is another breastfeeding position popular with tired parents!
Because of the reclined position and way the baby opens their mouth widely to latch themselves onto the breast, this hold tends to offer a lot of latching success. The neck, back, and shoulders are well supported in this position, so your body tends to tolerate it well as well.
See video of this hold here.
No matter which hold you’re trying, you may also want to take one hand and make a “C hold” to help your baby to latch. You’ll have two fingers on top and your thumb underneath — or vice versa, depending on the orientation of the baby and which hand you’re using on which breast.
By compressing your breast a little, the hope is that your baby will get a little more of the areola in their mouth, creating a more comfortable latch.
- Bring in a mirror: If you are struggling to see your baby latch due to your larger breasts, you may want to use a mirror to help you see what is happening.
- Elevate baby with pillows: To help avoid the temptation of lowering your breasts to the baby (something that will almost always guarantee neck, back, and shoulder pain as well as a poor latch) use a nursing pillow or just some pillows off your bed/couch to help raise your baby to a comfortable height and position.
- Use a small blanket or washcloth to lift your breast: Roll up a small blanket or have a washcloth handy to place under your breast in a way that both supports and elevates it. This way you won’t have to worry when you are in an upright position about the weight of your breast on the baby or trying to support your breast while helping your baby to latch.
- Find a supportive bra: A good nursing bra can work wonders if you’re breastfeeding with larger breasts. You’ll want to find a bra that does not cut or pinch into the breasts as this can cause clogged ducts. You may prefer a bra that can also double as a pumping bra, so that you can pump hands free.
Although we’ve been focusing on specific problems those with large breasts may experience, it’s important to note that larger breasts do not necessarily mean you’ll have trouble with breastfeeding. There are plenty of parents with large breasts who have no problems at all!
If you have bigger breasts and do struggle with breastfeeding there is no reason to throw in the towel. Lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, and local resources can all offer assistance in your breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding hotlines and resources
- National Women’s Health and Breastfeeding Helpline: 1-800-994-9662
- La Leche League USA: +1-800-LALECHE (525-3243) or find a support group near you
- International Lactation Consultant Association: Find a lactation consultant
- United States Lactation Consultant Association: Find an IBCLC