We asked mothers across the country to share their experiences of breastfeeding with large breasts.
Nicols: I used to have to lift/prop my breast with a rolled up flannel when sitting up, but feeding lying down was easier until my baby could cope with the weight of my breast.
Zena: I have to support my breast sometimes when feeding or roll up a muslin and stuff it underneath. Lying semi-reclined in a biological nurturing position with the baby in the crook of my arm seems to work too.
Georgia: Breastfeeding on my side lying down helped me manage the weight of my breast and I had an easier time holding it/massaging it whilst baby fed. I could see the latch better too. While lying on my side, breastfeeding with the upper breast (the one not touching the mattress) also worked for us.
Verity: Rugby hold was the only way I could feed my baby during the first two weeks with HH cups. Now, I occasionally roll up a muslin under my breast to achieve a better position.
Maggie: I used the cross cradle hold position, as that gave me more control over the latch, with a rolled up muslin to lift my breasts. Later on, when my baby was about two months old, I switched to nursing lying down which helped me rest my back. We still nurse that way, but obviously it can only be done when we are at home.
Jo: I used to sit up with my baby dangling (but well supported) between my legs when she was tiny. No props. I struggled with being really hot all the time because of the hormones going through my body, so anything extra just added to the discomfort. As she got bigger (she is now 14 months old), she sometimes manipulates my breast to achieve a comfortable position. The biggest deal for me was covering up, and I still feel a bit self conscious when I get my full breast out with anyone else present other than my husband. Finding the right bras and tops that work for me has helped. I don’t use covers very much, but I would depending on the formality of the circumstances and location.
Fi: I found that having baby straddle my thigh as I supported his head and neck, sitting upright, helped with bigger breasts, as well as fast let down and post C-section.
Gabriella: In the early days I suspended my breast with a scarf on my neck so I didn’t have to use my hands to support it, as a rolled up muslin wasn’t enough for me. This way I could use both of my hands to hold my son in the biological nurturing position and he was not overwhelmed by my really fast let down. It only lasted a few weeks until my son’s head and body control improved.
Frankie: Rugby hold all the way!!
Jayne: Side-lying on a bed can work well. The bed takes the weight off the breast. Small rolled-up towels or muslins can be used to give a bit of lift to either baby or breast, as needed!
Pascale: I found it difficult to keep my breast out of my son’s face when he was a newborn. I struggled to get breastfeeding established in the early days, but using a rugby hold helped a lot. Later, when I figured things out a bit more, feeding lying down also worked.
Rae: In the early days holding my breast helped a lot, as it stopped the latch from slipping. The other things that helped were feeding lying down and feeding leaning right over with baby on my knee and breast hanging over, almost like dangle feeding.
Deborah: A loop of wide crepe bandage worn like a necklace can help support the breast. Placing the baby on a high pile of pillows, lifting the breast up to that height and turning the baby towards the breast can also help.
Suzanne: There’s often no way around holding the breasts when they’re very large, but it’s important not to place any fingers on the areola, as that may limit how well the baby can latch on.
Roisin: I found that using the ‘Concorde’ hold, with the nipple pointing down while lifting the breast over the baby’s lower jaw, was quite useful.
Rebecca: To start with, feeding in a laid back position or using a rugby hold helped a lot. Pillows and cushions to raise the baby up also helped, especially after my caesarean. I gradually moved more upright the bigger he got, as the contrast between the size of his mouth and my breast didn’t seem quite so great. Now he likes to sit up, unless preparing to nap, which makes things a bit easier! The ‘flipple’ technique was a lifesaver too.
First Published in Breastfeeding Matters issue 223 (January/February 2018)