Does your breast size determine your ability to have a successful breastfeeding journey? The short answer is no. However, there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding breast size and breastfeeding, which can make it difficult for mothers to navigate their unique experiences.
We've put together this blog to help you better understand how breast size can impact your breastfeeding journey. Whether you have small, medium, large, busty, or super-busty breasts, this guide is for you. We hope that by sharing this information, we can empower all nursing moms.
1. Breast size doesn’t determine your ability to breastfeed.
While it’s a widespread belief that breast size is a determining factor in milk production, this is a misconception. Milk production is primarily influenced by the hormone prolactin and the frequency of nursing, both of which trigger the mammary glands to produce milk. Regardless of breast size, most lactating mothers can produce adequate supplies of milk for their babies.
Breast size is determined by the amount of glandular, fatty, and connective tissue in your breasts. Glandular tissue is responsible for milk production, while fatty tissue gives your breasts their size and shape. It’s hard to know how much glandular tissue you have, but the more glandular tissue, the more milk you can typically provide (if demand is consistent). This means that the size of your breasts does not indicate the amount of milk your breasts can produce (for example, small-breasted women can have little fatty tissue and lots of glandular tissue).
There are several reasons moms have to nurse more frequently to maintain supply; any mom (A cup or DDD cup) may have to nurse more if she has less glandular tissue, if she has flat or inverted nipples, or if her baby has difficulty removing milk, among other reasons.
Bottom line? Breast size doesn’t determine if you can breastfeed successfully. That said, nursing moms with smaller breasts or larger breasts may find it easier to nurse in certain positions that can improve milk transfer and reduce discomfort.
2. Certain breastfeeding positions may work better for your breast size.
When it comes to nursing positions, there are a variety of options that can work for different breast sizes, and changing your breastfeeding position can be a quick fix for many nursing challenges. Women with larger breasts may find the football hold or side-lying position more comfortable, as these positions can provide more support for the breast. On the other hand, women with smaller breasts may find that the cradle hold, laidback position, and cross-cradle hold work well for them, as these positions can allow for more control and precision in positioning the baby's mouth correctly on the breast.
It's important to note that regardless of breast size, proper alignment and positioning are key for successful breastfeeding. This means ensuring that your baby's head and body are properly aligned, with their nose at the level of your nipple. A baby should be supported at the neck, not at the back of the head. This allows the baby to open their mouth wide for a good latch when placed nose to nipple (supporting their head exerts pressure and restricts movement, which can result in a shallow and painful latch). Experimenting with different nursing positions and seeking guidance from lactation professionals (CLCs, IBCLCs, peer counselors, doulas) can help you find the most comfortable and effective position for you and your baby.
3. Breast size can impact comfort during nursing.
If you have larger breasts, it may be more challenging to find a comfortable nursing position, as the weight of your breasts can put pressure on your arms, back, and neck. Additionally, you may experience nipple soreness and cracking due to increased pressure and friction during nursing.
If you have larger breasts, it’s important to find a comfortable nursing position that works for you. This may involve using a nursing pillow (regular pillows work too!) to support your baby's weight and taking breaks during nursing to adjust position and relieve pressure. You may also find it helpful to experiment with different nursing positions to find the most comfortable options.
4. Nipple size can impact your baby’s latch.
Nipple size can play a role in breastfeeding. While nipple size doesn't determine milk production (nor does it correlate to breast size), it can affect how well a baby is able to latch on and nurse, which can then impact supply.
If the nursing mother has larger nipples, it may be easier for her baby to latch on and maintain a good latch, as there is more surface area. However, if the nipple is particularly large or elongated, it may be more difficult for the baby to properly latch and can cause discomfort for the mother.
If the nursing mother has smaller nipples, it may be more challenging for her baby to latch on and maintain a good latch, as there is less surface area. In some cases, a lactation consultant or lactation counselor may suggest using a nipple-everting tool (aka nipple everter) or pumping before nursing to potentially help draw out the nipple and make it easier for the baby to latch on.
5. Breast size can change during breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause the breasts to increase in size. Once you begin breastfeeding, your breasts may become engorged and feel larger and heavier than usual. This is due to increased blood flow, milk production, and milk storage.
However, as your baby continues to nurse and your milk supply becomes more established, you may notice a decrease in breast size. A change in breast size or feeling less full does not mean you're losing supply; it just means your supply has regulated. The breast tissue has adapted to the new demands of milk production and is becoming more efficient at producing and storing milk.
Breast size changes during breastfeeding are normal. Some women may notice significant changes in breast size, while others may experience minimal changes. It’s also important to note that you may experience long-term changes in breast size and shape after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
6. Proper bra size is essential for support when breastfeeding.
A well-fitting nursing bra can provide support and ease discomfort during nursing. When choosing a nursing bra, it’s important to consider factors such as comfort, fit, and nursing access.
Figuring out the right bra size can be a challenge, especially since breasts change so much during pregnancy and postpartum, and there is no industry standard when it comes to bra sizing. Our Bra Fit page and Customer Care Team have all the info you need to get the perfect fit for your breasts.
If you have larger breasts, finding a comfortable nursing bra can be particularly challenging. Many standard nursing bras may not provide enough support or may be too small, causing discomfort and - potentially - engorgement. But not ours! Our Busty and Super Busty nursing bras are designed with larger busts in mind and provide ample support without compromising on style and comfort.
The Busty sizes are designed for people with cup sizes DD to G, while the Super Busty sizes cater to people with cup sizes H to L. These bras feature wider straps, thicker bands, and full-coverage cups to provide maximum support and comfort during nursing. Our wireless nursing bras come in a variety of styles, including nursing sports bras, to suit different preferences.
At the end of the day, remember that breast size, nipple size, and breast shape don’t determine your ability to breastfeed successfully. With the right support and knowledge, you can address breastfeeding challenges and have a positive and fulfilling breastfeeding experience. Remember to seek professional support if needed, try different positions, and, most importantly, be patient with yourself and your baby. With time and practice, you and your baby can develop a comfortable and satisfying breastfeeding routine.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice that has been medically reviewed. Please reach out to your doctor, midwife, lactation professional, or pediatrician with any questions.