Breastfeeding is definitely not a one-size-fits-all experience and those with bigger breasts can find themselves experiencing a range of different issues that their small chested friends may not encounter.
Here are my 5 top tips for mums with large breasts starting their breastfeeding journey:
- Support them – Whether you already had large breasts or they have enlarged significantly in pregnancy, it’s important to understand how essential it is to support them. A D cup breast on average weighs 760gm and an F cup breast weighing in at over 1.2kg. This substantial weight can cause back and neck pain if not supported well and with milk regulating in the first 6 weeks they will only further increase in size and weight. Investing in a great quality nursing brais a MUST but these have been quite challenging to find in the past. Luckily Cadenshae cater for us bigger breasted women with the Ultimate and Luxe bras, catering for those with DD+ and H+ respectively. Both bras feature molded cups so are supportive and give great shape but do not use underwire, ensuring not to increase the risk of blocked ducts. Ladies with bigger breasts are sometimes more reluctant to feed in public as they feel there is a whole lot more on show when feeding. Investing in tops and jumpers that have hidden zips incorporated into them, (like this lightweight breastfeeding hoodie) make it easier to breastfeed without feeling overexposed or getting cold.
- Positioning- The most common breastfeeding position (cradle hold) doesn’t always work for women with large breasts. Practice different positions such as laid back, side lying, cross cradle and football hold to find out what works for you and your baby. Being able to see the nipple and areola area when latching the baby helps with a good latch in the early days. Don’t be afraid to use props to help get a good position. You can use a rolled up washcloth under the breast to prop it up and give better vision of the nipple. Pillows or even lying the baby in your lap can help support the baby’s weight while you use your hand in a C hold to support the weight of the breast and guide the baby to it.
- Nipples- Larger breasted women have an increased incidence of flat or inverted nipples, which can make latching or attaching a baby difficult at times. Women with flat or inverted nipples CAN breastfeed, seek out the help of an IBCLC to help with establishing your lactation journey or try out some nipple shields. For those with protruding nipples, when the milk comes in (about 72 hours after birth) breasts can increase in size dramatically and can often make the nipple not as pronounced, making it hard for the newborn to latch on. To assist with the latch, soften the breast by hand expressing a small amount of milk off into a container or towel before attempting to attach the baby.
- Suffocation- Every new mum is worried about blocking their newborns nose with excess breast tissue when feeding. Luckily they are smart little buggers, and will stop feeding and come off the breast if they feel their airflow through the nose is compromised. Correct attachment at the breast should mean the chin is tucked into the breast tissue, ensuring that the nose is kept clear of any breast tissue. Some mums like to use their finger to press near the babies nose to reassure themselves that they “can breathe”, but be wary that this can cause blocked ducts as the milk can get trapped behind the pressure of the finger.
- Bigger is better- well maybe.. Although bigger breasts doesn’t always mean a bigger storage capacity (as breasts are made up of fat tissue, and its glandular tissue that makes and stores breastmilk) it is a possibility. Having a larger storage capacity may mean thatit will take longer for the breasts to become full, your baby may only take one breast per feed, they may feed less per 24 hours and you will be able to go longer periods of time without feeling engorged. Not feeling full may lead some mums with bigger breasts to feel they have low supply or are not making enough milk. Checking with an IBCLC that your baby is attached well, putting on some weight, having plenty of wet nappies and is happy between feeds will assure you that your baby is getting enough breastmilk.