Breasts, like nipples, come in all different shapes and sizes.
Some mothers might worry if their breast shape or size may impact breastfeeding.
For example, mothers with small breasts may worry if they will be able to make enough milk for their baby.
Mothers with large breasts may worry about the best way to get their baby attached to their breasts.
The good news is that regardless of your breast (or nipple) shape or size, most mothers can breastfeed and produce plenty of milk for their baby (or babies).
Here are 4 things you need to know about breast size and breastfeeding.
#1: Pregnancy Helps Prepare Your Breasts For Breastfeeding
During pregnancy, many mothers notice changes in their breasts and nipples. For many women, one of the first signs of pregnancy is breast tenderness. This is a positive sign that pregnancy hormones are helping prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.
Some mothers may also notice some of the following changes in their breasts:
- Areola and nipple darkens in colour
- Areola gets bigger
- Montgomery glands become more prominent
- Veins on the surface of their breast become more prominent
- Breasts increase in size
During pregnancy, glandular (milk-making) tissue grows inside your breasts and the ratio of glandular to fatty tissue increases.
All these changes help prepare your breasts for breastfeeding. Not all mothers notice all of the above changes and this usually doesn’t mean there are any problems.
#2: Breast Size Does Not Determine Your Milk-Making Capacity
The overall amount of breastmilk you can produce is not determined by your breast size.
A mother’s milk-making capacity is affected by the amount of glandular tissue in her breasts, not by breast size. Even mothers with small breasts can have plenty of glandular tissue. This is because the larger the breast, generally the more fatty tissue (as opposed to the more glandular tissue) in the breast.
It’s important to note that a very small percentage of mothers may have insufficient glandular tissue – read here for more information about this condition.
#3: Breast Size May Reflect Storage Capacity
Breast size can sometimes reflect how much milk you can store in your breasts between feeds. This is referred to as storage capacity. Storage capacity can differ greatly between mothers and also between breasts of the same mother.
Mothers with either large or small storage capacities can produce plenty of milk for their baby, but their babies may feed quite differently. For example, a baby whose mother has a larger storage capacity may be able to go longer between breastfeeds without impacting his mother’s milk supply. Whereas a mother with a smaller storage capacity will have breasts that fill up quicker and so she will need to breastfeed her baby more frequently to maintain her milk supply (by keeping her breasts well drained) and to satisfy her baby’s needs.
As an analogy, just say your baby needs the equivalent of a jug of breastmilk every 24 hours. If you have a ‘shot glass’ storage capacity, you would likely need to feed your baby a lot more often as compared to a mother who has a ‘beer glass’ storage capacity. This is because it takes a lot more shot glasses to fill a jug as compared to beer glasses.
#4: Feeding According To Need Is Important
Because different babies need different volumes of breastmilk and because different mothers have different storage capacities, it’s important to feed your baby when your baby needs to be fed. This means feeding your baby when he is showing feeding cues. In this way, you can help ensure your baby gets the amount of milk he needs.
Hopefully you can now relax knowing that regardless of your breast size, you are likely to be able to make plenty of milk for your baby or babies. The key is feeding your baby when your baby needs to be fed.