Can You Breastfeed If You Have A Bulbous Areola?

What Is It And How Does It Affect Breastfeeding?

Bulbous Areola: What Is It and How Does It Affect Breastfeeding?
Can you breastfeed if you have a bulbous areola?. Hero Images/Getty Images

What Is A Bulbous Areola?

When something is bulbous, it's round and fat. The areola is the darker part of the breast that surrounds the nipple. If you have a bulbous areola, your nipple and areola may appear unusually large, swollen, and almost inflamed-looking. It might look like your areola has a large bubble inside it, and it will feel soft to the touch. 

Can You Breastfeed If You Have A Bulbous Areola?

If you have a bulbous looking areola, it may not mean anything at all.

Since the breasts, nipples, and areola come in all different sizes and shapes, it can be normal for some women to have a more swollen or round areola and nipple. If it's just a natural variation in anatomy, it will not have any effect on breastfeeding or the production of breast milk.  

However, a bulbous areola could be a sign of underdeveloped or hypoplastic breasts. Along with a swollen areola, underdeveloped breasts may also look long, thin, and tubular, and they may be uneven or spaced far apart. Quite often, if a bulbous areola is associated with minimal breast tissue, it can affect the production of breast milk. Therefore, breastfeeding can be a challenge. 

What Can You Do If You Have A Bulbous Areola?

It is critical that you and your doctor observe your breasts for changes during pregnancy. If you have a bulbous areola, but you have seen dramatic changes in the size, shape, and color of your breasts and areola, and you have seen more fullness in the breast itself, the chances are that you will be able to establish a sufficient supply of breast milk for your baby.

If you haven't seen many changes, have no fear. You can breastfeed and have your baby's weight monitored to be sure you are making enough breast milk. And, even if you can't make enough breast milk to breastfeed exclusively, you can still breastfeed your baby along with a supplement

In many cases, women have had a low breast milk supply with their first babies, only to have exclusively breastfed their subsequent babies.

So we can't go on the assumption that you'll never have a strong breast milk supply.

Where To Go For Help

If you are concerned about a bulbous areola, the shape and size of your breasts, or your ability to make a healthy supply of breast milk, talk to your doctor or see a lactation consultant. They will be able to assess the situation and help you increase your breast milk supply, if necessary. They can also provide any other breastfeeding support you need.

Sources:

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

Edited by Donna Murray

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