Breastfeeding with Large Breasts

A friend was teasing me a few months ago because I still use the C-hold when nursing my toddler. I have very large breasts–the last nursing bra I bought was a 34F, and my son is two. From the moment my first son’s milk came in, I was dealing with enormous, firm melons and trying to figure out how to get my baby’s tiny mouth to latch on without suffocating him.

Thankfully, an IBCLC pointed out that a newborn’s nose is curved so that he won’t actually suffocate, no matter how much bosom is billowing around his face.

Little baby girl breast feeding

As I’m about to dive into my third time nursing a newborn, it’s been good for me to re-read all the advice that worked well for me the first two times. Here’s what’s been most helpful to me:

The C-Hold. Using the same hand as the breast baby is nursing from, I’ve always smooshed my breast with a C-shaped hand to better position it for my baby (or toddler’s) mouth. The smooshing is gentle, with the pinky-edge of my hand against my rib cage to support the entire breast and also make sure my fingers are back far enough from the areola.

Sometimes, I’ve been able to release my hold on the breast midway through a feeding, but usually I hold my breast this way for the entire nursing session.

Because this support method makes the traditional cradle hold tricky, another essential tool for me has always been a breastfeeding pillow (or else nursing in my Ergo–boy! It’s super easy for me to use the C-curve when I’m nursing in a carrier). I use the pillow in part to make sure I’m bringing the baby to my breast, rather than bringing my breast to the baby–a habit large-breasted women often slip into.

Sometimes I think, what if I just put the baby on my lap and hunch over a bit? I might not have to use any hands! But this almost always leads to poor latch and sore nipples (and an aching back) for me, so I try to utilize a firm breastfeeding pillow whenever possible.

Various nursing positions have worked well for me and my boys. My second son really took well to reclined nursing, which is great because then I was just lying back on the couch with him on my stomach, nursing away. My first was such a distracted nurser, we almost always had to run away to his bedroom to nurse in the dark, so we could use the side-lying position. I know other mamas with large breasts have had great success with the football hold.

Because I’ve always worked at least part-time, I’ve had to pump milk to leave behind for my kiddos. It was very important for me to find a properly fitting flange for my breastpump. Ameda has a very useful photo guide to flange fit, and our Boutique sells their custom-fitted flanges to work with all of their pumps. I definitely noticed when I first got my pump that the standard flanges were way, way too small, and this made the pumping experience very uncomfortable…and unproductive. A good flange fit helps increase output!

All breastfeeding mothers need to concentrate on baby getting a good latch. Women with large breasts often have large areolas and large nipples, too. We need to find that good latch in order to make sure baby is getting as much areola in his mouth as possible, because it’s necessary to compress the areola and the milk “sinuses.” I’ve made sure to visit with a lactation consultant after each baby, even though I’m a 50-month nursing veteran, because a good latch means good feeding and healthy nipples.

Finally, it’s important for large-breasted women to find a properly fitting nursing bra. A too-small bra is uncomfortable, sure, but can also lead to clogged ducts or the pressure from a misaligned seam can even constrict milk production. I used to fall into the trap many American women do when buying bras: I bought a band size that was too big and a cup size that was too small. I live close enough to A Mother’s Boutique that I could come in for a fitting, but there’s a virtual fitting option, too, for mamas joining us from afar. For some tried and true large-bust bra options, check out this round-up we did after asking other nursing moms for input.

Do any of you have advice for breastfeeding with a large bosom? Leave us a comment to share some tips with our readers!

4 comments to Breastfeeding with Large Breasts

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