Ask Judy: My Breasts Never Feel Full – Is That Normal?

I saw two posts on twitter recently that made me realize I need a post about engorgement and breastfeeding. The two tweets that inspired this are post were:

from @mdans “wonder how long i’ll be able to keep #bfing. My boobs rarely are full is that normal?” on September 21st


from @jayesel “so bfing moms: anyone ever had success bfing without ever being engorged? baby is 9 days old, nursing great, lots of wet/dirty diapers” on September 23rd.

I responded to both on twitter – but thought I would write a little more here. First off, let me just say that EVERY woman is different and every woman’s body responds differently to breastfeeding. There are lots of “cues” that you should monitor when you are breastfeeding to determine if everything is going smoothly and “fullness” of your breasts or “engorgement” is only one of those cues. Additional cues include:

  • having a baby who is content and falls asleep after a feed
  • having 5-6 wet diapers per day (after the 4th day post partum)
  • having 4 yellow seedy stools per day (after day 4 post partum and during the first 4 weeks post partum only)
  • after day 4, gaining 25 grams (or 0.8 ounces) per day for the first 3-4 months
  • regaining their birth weight by 2-3 weeks post-partum

Some women never feel engorged. I personally was one of those women. I never had to wear nursing pads (I actually leaked more before giving birth than I did after my milk came in), I never felt a let-down and my breasts never got overly engorged. And yet, I was able to nurse my son for a very long time – he gained regularly and never needed supplementation of any kind. So don’t let soft breasts or lack of leaking make you feel like you aren’t making milk. It’s there, and as long as your baby is having wet diapers and gaining some weight – have confidence in your body that it is doing its job.

Did you ever feel engorged? What techniques did you use to reassure yourself that your baby was getting enough?

4 comments to Ask Judy: My Breasts Never Feel Full – Is That Normal?

  • Jaimie

    My breasts only get engorged when I go past 6-7 hours or so (I.e. Overnight) and then it’s less engorged than it is lumpy. Ileak a bit in morning but that’s it really. I wear bamboobies daily cuzntheir so sooooft :) also never feel let down… I go by baby’s vies and not my breasts most of the time…

  • Jennifer

    I never got engorged and only at rare times did I ever feel a letdown. My son nursed A LOT as a newborn and I would watch him swallow so I knew he was always getting milk. I considered myself lucky that I didn’t get engorged and assumed it was due to his near constant nursing. I am still breastfeeding my son (age 3) while 8.5 months pregnant. I did occasionally feel my breasts were full, but that was usually when he changed nursing habits and didn’t nurse as often.

  • Ibnsmommy

    I never get engorged. I do feel a let down, however I don’t feel I am producing adequately because my baby wakes up frequently and when I pump my milk supply goes up and down I may have four ounces at one setting and barely one in the next … I need help

  • Hello, I strongly recommend going to see an IBCLC certified lactation consultant. They can help you to figure out if you are making enough milk and if your baby is getting what they need.

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