Is It Possible to Breastfeed with Hypoplastic (Tubular) Breasts?

Breastfeeding With Hypoplastic (Tubular) Breasts

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Shruti Kainth (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Breast tissue develops when women hit puberty between the ages of eleven and thirteen. However, in some cases, the tissue does not form completely and leads to a condition called hypoplasia. This condition is often undetectable until after pregnancy and childbirth. Read this article to understand what hypoplasia is and how women can manage breastfeeding despite having hypoplastic/tubular breasts.

What Are Hypoplastic Breasts?

Hypoplastic or tuberous breasts are basically breasts which have not matured fully. In this case, women have insufficient amounts of breast tissue that support milk synthesis. Tuberous breasts result in greatly reduced milk supply or lack thereof.

What Are the Causes of Hypoplasia?

Here are some causes of hypoplastic breast syndrome:

  • Shortage of progesterone levels in the body can result in underdeveloped breast alveolar tissue which produces the milk.
  • Pesticides in the diet can also cause hypoplasia. Women who live in farming valleys have been shown to have poorly developed breast glands.
  • Reduced production of thyroid hormones, i.e. hypothyroidism has also been implicated in tuberous breasts and reduced milk productions.
  • Conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), also affect the proper maturation of breast tissue. If you have PCOS, it is best to consult an endocrinologist because the regular FP or OB/GYN won’t know how to help you.

What Are the Symptoms of Hypoplasia?

Some common hypoplasia symptoms include:

  • Breasts are considerably smaller and extended or tubular in appearance. They are also spaced away from each other.
  • The areolas and nipples of these breasts are expanded in size and tend to bulge at the tip.
  • Hypoplastic breasts are generally of different sizes, making them lopsided.
  • The breasts may not change in size during puberty, in the course of pregnancy or even after giving birth.

Diagrammatic comparison of tuberous and normal breasts

Can You Breastfeed With Hypoplastic Breasts?

It is certainly possible to breastfeed with hypoplastic or tuberous breasts. Breastfeeding depends on the milk-production tissue in your breasts, and there might be sufficient tissue to produce enough milk. Another likelihood is that the condition might affect just one breast, i.e. you might have properly developed breastmilk production tissue in the other breast.

Breastfeeding with tubular breasts might need supplementation in many cases as well. Some parents may prefer nursing at the breast with supplemented donor milk in an SNS (supplemental nursing system). It allows the baby to suckle at the breast, stimulate the mother’s hormones, and ensure that the baby receives adequate nutrition.

Educating yourself by reading additional information and consulting an expert can help you probe further in understanding your own health and the lactation process. It can also help you find the right balance based on what your nursing journey looks like following the birth of your child. It is also important to have one or more backup plans to help you feel more prepared to make decisions that feel good and true to your heart.

Tips to Manage Breastfeeding With Tubular Breasts

Even with breast hypoplasia, there is no reason why you should not be able to feed your baby. Here are some tips for managing breastfeeding with tubular breasts:

  • One method of stimulating milk production is by massaging your breasts.
  • It is important that you consult with a lactation expert during your pregnancy to ensure you can successfully feed your baby after birth.
  • It is helpful to start using a breast pump a day or two after birth. This is because pumping breast milk can increase production as it stimulates milk synthesis. The pumped breastmilk can be used to feed your baby when your breasts aren’t making enough.
  • Breast hypoplasia treatments include managing metabolic conditions like hypothyroidism and PCOS.
  • You can also consider supplemental methods of feeding, such as using milk from donors or prescribed formula. You may also consider lactation aids, such as feeding tubes and nursing.
  • Some of the most common reasons for lactation or nursing problems are incorrect breast latching and positioning of the baby during breastfeeding. Fixing these can improve suckling and milk production.
  • You may also inquire about using natural hormone treatments, such as progesterone, which can promote the development of breast glandular tissue in the course of pregnancy.
  • Another technique to promote stimulation is feeding your baby on demand, that is whenever they want to be fed rather than on a strict regimen. You can also pump in between nursing sessions to keep a steady supply of milk.
  • One of the most important things to do is consume a nutritious, balanced diet consisting of all food groups, as well as remain hydrated and well-rested. This will help improve the production of breastmilk.

It is possible to surgically reform hypoplastic tubular breasts, but while this can fix the physical symptoms of the condition, the chances of breast tissue development are very low. It is unlikely that surgically including milk glands, will result in increased milk production.

Also Read: Breastfeeding with Flat or Inverted Nipples

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