Whether small or large, breasts are made for breastfeeding. However, a mum with a DD cup may have different challenges than a mum with smaller breasts. If you are large-chested, here some considerations when breastfeeding your baby:
Breastfeeding Tip #1: Get A Good Bra
During your final months of pregnancy, go bra shopping at a good lingerie store where you can be properly fitted. Keep in mind that when your milk comes in, your breasts will likely increase in size. You'll want something supportive, in the right cup size, with wide, comfortable straps and band. Your breasts will get heavier when your milk comes in, and you don't want your bra carving grooves in your shoulders! Also, a bra that’s too small can cause blocked ducts or mastitis, or even a decrease in milk supply, due to the pressure it puts on the breasts. So absolutely make sure you're wearing the right size ” even if it means being professionally fitted.
You may need a stretchy bra for sleeping, to give you support throughout the night – especially if you leak a lot. Don’t wear underwires or you could end up with blocked ducts or a nasty case of mastitis, and try to buy an all-cotton bra if you can (especially if you are prone to rashes where your breasts touch your other skin).
Breastfeeding Tip #2: Try A Variety Of Positions
Large-breasted mothers can rarely put their baby in a cradle hold and just nurse. The cross-cradle and football/clutch holds seem to be easier for learning to latch while at the same time manipulating a large amount of breast tissue. Side lying is typically easy for mothers with large breasts, because the bed supports the breast. If you decide to use football/clutch hold, be cautious as the weight of your breast may put too much pressure on baby's lower jaw or chest.
If you need to use pillows to get baby to breast level, do so. But many mothers with pendulous breasts find that pillows lift the baby too high. You may be able to lay baby on your lap for latching.
Breastfeeding Tip #3: Support Your Breast Throughout A Feed
Forget multitasking, especially with a newborn. You're going to need both of your hands for feeding, and not just for the latch. Keep your fingers far back from the areola, and under all of your breast tissue (shape your hand into the letter ‘C' and put your fingers under the breast against the chest wall, and the thumb on top of the breast). If your breast isn't supported, gravity may pull the nipple out of your baby's mouth, or you may end up with sore nipples because baby is clamping down to keep from losing the nipple to gravity's pull. Another option is to roll a towel, washcloth or small blanket, and put it under your breast against your chest wall. This may allow you to have one hand free once your baby is latched.
Breastfeeding Tip #4: Try Different Techniques When Latching
The weight of the milk inside your breast being pulled down by gravity may be causing flat nipples ” even if your nipples are typically erect. Breast support may help, as will frequent nursing. If you can't see what you're doing when you're latching (you can't even tell if baby is hitting the areola bull's-eye because you've got so much breast tissue), ask for help or nurse in front of a mirror.
Also, try using a ‘breast sandwich' to create a firm structure for baby to latch onto. To do this, compress the breast tissue so that it's parallel to the opening of baby's mouth as you bring your baby to the breast. Keep your fingers back so they don't get in the way of latching, and bring the baby in chin first. Can't figure out what this means? Think about what you'd do if you were eating a big sandwich: you'd squish it down a little, then put it on your bottom jaw first and close the top of your jaw next. This is what you want to help your baby achieve.
Breastfeeding Tip #5: Beware Of Itchy Skin
Mothers with large breasts may have itchiness and stretch marks just from their breast growth causing skin stretching. Try using a gentle lotion to relieve the itch ” something natural like organic virgin coconut oil (which also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties), olive oil or sweet almond oil, since baby's face and hands will be right there much of the time.
Well-endowed women are more prone to yeast and bacterial infections or heat rash in the folds underneath the breast or between the breasts. Wear a cotton bra, and change bras if it feels especially sweaty. When you bathe, wash the breasts with water (not soap), and dry them thoroughly, especially underneath. Some mothers even use a hair dryer on low to get the area fully dried.
Breastfeeding Tip #6: Learn To Breastfeeding Anywhere
Public breastfeeding may be challenging with large breasts, as more breast may be exposed than you’re comfortable with. It's not as simple as gently lifting your shirt with your baby cradled in the crook of your arm. Try nursing in front of a mirror until you're comfortable with how much breast is being exposed.
Breastfeeding Tip #7: If You're Worried About Milk Supply …
Some mothers with large breasts never feel engorged when their milk comes in, and they never seem to feel full between feedings. This can cause a lot of unnecessary worry about milk supply. The best way to a strong milk supply is nursing your baby often. You'll know he's getting enough if he has plenty of wet and dirty nappies/diapers every day. And you can call yourself lucky for not having to deal with painfully hard breasts!
Breast size is determined by the amount of fatty tissue, but the amount of milk a mum can store in her breasts between feedings is determined by the structure of her milk making glands. Small breasted women may have a large storage capacity and vice versa. Storage capacity affects how long you can go between feedings without compromising your milk making capabilities. Just because you have large breasts doesn't necessarily mean you can go long periods between feedings. So nursing your baby often remains the best way to ensure a good milk supply ” whether A-cup or DD-cup or more.
For more information on milk supply, read these BellyBelly’s articles:
- BellyBelly’s 10 Top Breastfeeding Tips
- 7 Best Breastfeeding Books (make sure you own at least one of these for a quick and easy reference point).
- How Breastfeeding Is A Confidence Game
- Not Enough Milk: Concerned About Your Milk Supply? (many mothers worry about the amount of milk they produce – this is a must read to avoid a crash course into supplementing with formula).
- Is My Baby Hungry? Do I Have Enough Milk?