Breastfeeding Tips For Bigger Breasted Mothers
Bigger breasts don’t necessarily mean more milk or an easier time breastfeeding than your smaller breasted sisters.
Although a larger milk storage capacity can make breastfeeding seem easier, this isn’t always related to the size of your breasts - bigger breasts may have more fatty tissue than milk making tissue. Just as with smaller breasts, your milk supply depends on emptying your breasts to signal your body to make more milk.
Big breasts can present some special challenges for breastfeeding mums: big breasts can be heavy for a tiny baby to stay latched on; bigger breasts can mean your breasts hang lower so you can’t see whether your baby is positioned to latch well; big breasts can mean you need to take care that sweat and milk leakage don’t cause skin rashes or thrush (candida) under your breasts; and the weight of big breasts can create shoulder, back and neck pain as you sit holding your baby at the breast for long periods, especially in the early days.
The good news is that all of these challenges can be overcome with some simple tips and support, so you can enjoy breastfeeding your baby, regardless of your breast size.
Beginning to breastfeed
Engorgement as your milk comes in is painful whatever size your breasts are but can feel overwhelming when you already have large breasts and then they feel hot, hard, and heavier too. To help relieve engorgement:
- Apply cool compresses, chilled cabbage leaves or a wet, frozen disposable nappy to your breasts between feeds to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- If your nipple looks flat due to the swelling (like a full balloon that has lost its pointy bit), try hand expressing a small amount of milk to soften your areola and make your nipple easier for baby to grasp. You can also try ‘reverse pressure softening’: Curve your fingers on one hand with your thumb and fingers opposing. Now with your fingers in this position, place your fingers around your nipple, pressing on your areola. With your finger and thumb tips, gently press your fingers in towards your chest wall. Using steady and firm pressure, count slowly to 50 (this shouldn’t hurt). This will press the fluid back and soften your areola, making it easier for your baby to feed.
- Lie on your back and gently massage your breasts away from your nipples, towards your armpits to help with lymph drainage – engorgement is not ‘all milk’ but can be due to excess fluid, especially if you had IV fluids during labour, and extra circulation as your breasts prepare for breastfeeding.
- Help your breasts stay comfortable and establish your milk supply by watching your baby, not the clock: feed as often as your baby signals by smacking or licking their lips, opening and closing their mouths, making sucking noises and trying to suck on their fists or fingers.
Breastfeeding positions for bigger breasts
Consider, gravity helps as you find a comfortable position for breastfeeding. You will be feeding for hours in the early days and being scrunched up holding your heavy breasts can mean extra stress on your body, causing aches and pains.
Please don’t worry, in a few weeks your baby will have mastered sucking, swallowing, and breathing as he feeds, you will also have figured out feeding positions that work for you both, and feeding won’t take so much time.
- Try a ‘laid back’ position – recline with your feet up, lying baby against you so he can feel supported and use his natural reflexes and gravity to latch and feed Allow your baby to self-latch – watch as he bobs about on your chest, finds the nipple and latches naturally.
- Hold your baby like a little koala – sit baby straddling your leg, sitting up facing you, try leaning back a little and bringing baby to breast, rather than leaning over to baby (this is easier with a bigger baby).
- Side lying – lie on your side, resting your breast on the bed with baby tucked next to you. Experiment with a pillow behind you and you may need two pillows under your head for support. Hold your baby on his side with your top arm, baby belly to your belly. You can curl your other arm above baby or under your head. If you feel comfortable, you don’t need to roll over to change breasts, you can simply lean over and feed with your other (top) breast.
- A Football hold – lots of mothers find this gives them more control and a better view of their baby’s attachment. It can keep your baby away from a C-section scar too. Hold your baby on a pillow under your arm with his feet facing behind you, tuck him in close and support his shoulders (don’t push his head) as he feeds.
Take the weight off
These tried and true ‘mum tricks’ to support your breasts can make breastfeeding with larger breasts easier, especially if you prefer to sit up as your feed your baby. After all, you may have a toddler to watch as you feed, or you might want a free hand to eat a snack.
- Roll up a face-washer, hand towel or muslin wrap tucked under your breast. This can make it easier for your baby to feed well as he doesn’t have to support your heavy breast with his little jaw. It will help absorb any leaking milk too.
- Make a sling by folding a large scarf into a triangle and rolling the edges in, then knot the scarf ends behind your neck at a comfortable length to pop one boob through and hold it up as you breastfeed. This can take the pressure off your arms and give you two hands to support your baby as he feeds – or a free hand to have a snack or drink yourself.
- Hack an old or cheap bra by cutting a hole in it to expose your nipple and enough breast to comfortably support you and allow your baby to latch easily. Take care that there is no pressure on areas of your breast though, as this could cause blocked ducts.
If you are finding breastfeeding difficult, please reach out to an IBCLC lactation Consultant. We have seen boobs of every size and shape and can offer specific, personalised help so you can enjoy breastfeeding with confidence.