Breasts and Breastfeeding
It’s a web site about breastfeeding, so clearly, there’s going to be a page about breasts and nipples, right? Those of you who are already pregnant may notice that your breasts become bigger as you progress in your pregnancy – wait till the milk comes in. Wow, talk about giant. I have small breasts, even so, my breasts became larger when I was engorged with milk.
We are constantly bombarded with images of women’s breasts as sexual objects. Billboards & commercials show scantly clad women in suggestive postures. Magazines show busty movie stars flaunting their breasts.
Unfortunately, young men & women will appreciate breasts only as items of allure. Not until they are parents will they appreciate the real purpose of breasts: provider of sustenance and life for the next generation.
Some small chested women worry that their breast won’t make enough milk. Not so. The ability to make breast milk is independent of breast size and shape. So regardless if your breasts are large or small, broad or narrow, even or lopsided, you can still make breast milk and breastfeed your baby.
Women who have had breast surgery may or may not breastfeed depending on
the type of surgery they have had (for example, breastfeeding after breast lift surgery is probably okay because the underlying tissue is not affected). Read more on breast surgery here.
- nipple: the pointy tip at the end of the breast. This is where the milk comes out. Nipples can protrude (shown) or be flat or inverted
- areola: the colored region around the nipple. During pregnancy, the areola may get darker; this may help baby see and be guided towards the breast.
On the inside, is the machinery that makes and delivers milk
- Alveoli: grape-like clusters of tiny rounded sacs where milk is made. These are located at the base of the breast just above the chest. A cluster of alveoli is called a lobule and a cluster of lobule is called a lobe.
- Milk ductules: small tubes or canals where milk travels out of the alveoli towards the nipple. Larger tubes and canals are called milk ducts.
- Milk Pools: larger tubes where milk accumulates right before it comes out of the nipple. Milk pools (also called milk reservoirs, or lactiferous sinuses) are under the areola, so when baby latches on, his mouth should go around a good proportion of the areola so his tongue can push the milk out of the milk pools.
- Nipple openings: this is where the milk comes out. There are multiple openings on each nipple.
- Fat: just under the skin is a layer of fat. Women who have big breasts have more fat surrounding their breast. Fat does not have a role in making breast milk, its function is to surround and protect the milk-making machinery.
- Muscle: tissue that connects your breasts to your ribs, collarbone, and upper arm. During breastfeeding, the breasts will become larger and heavier due to the milk inside. Women with strong chest muscles will have more lift and be able to maintain their figure. As well, a well fitted bra will help support your breasts and may reduce sagging.
Breasts and Breast Care
The best way to care for your breasts is to do nothing. Don’t use soaps and shampoos when you wash; don’t use creams or moisturizer; and don’t use disinfectants, alcohols, astringents or anesthetics
There are small bumps on your areola called Montgomery glands. These glands secrete an oily substance that naturally lubricates your nipples. Using soaps will wash off the natural lubricant. Using moisturizers will dilute the natural lubricant. Using alcohols will dry out the breasts and nipples
If you have a flat or inverted nipple, you can prepare them for breastfeeding.