Signs of Mammary Hypoplasia + What to do if You’re Diagnosed

April 4, 2014
Signs of Mammary Hypoplasia + What to do if You’re Diagnosed

You’ve probably heard about how breastfeeding is normal and natural – and it is, in most cases. Most women are capable of making enough milk for their babies to be healthy and happy, but some women are simply physically unable to produce milk despite their best efforts.

Mammary hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue or IGT, is a very uncommon condition that can cause low or no milk production. Women with mammary hypoplasia simply did not develop proper mammary tissue during adolescence, but their breasts may be small or large. Signs of mammary hypoplasia include:

  • Narrow, widely spaced breasts
  • Areolas appear swollen or puffy
  • Asymmetrical breasts, where one is much larger than the other
  • Breasts do not grow or change during pregnancy, and milk never “comes in” around 3 days after giving birth

When it appears that a mom’s body doesn’t make enough milk to feed her baby, it’s important to first explore all the possible causes, such as latch and positioning, breastfeeding habits (such as supplementing with formula), and the possibility of baby having tongue tie or other oral issues. If you think you may have mammary hypoplasia, reach out to a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider. They can help rule out other factors that could be causing low supply and suggest options such as supplementing feedings at the breast with Medela’s Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), finding a milk donor, or pumping and bottle-feeding as much milk as you’re able to make.

Above all else, know that it’s okay – don’t be too hard on yourself because you have trouble making as much milk as your baby needs. Enjoy your breastfeeding experience – you’re making a big difference in your little one’s health and well-being.

Were you diagnosed with mammary hypoplasia? Share your experience in the comments below.

60 thoughts on “Signs of Mammary Hypoplasia + What to do if You’re Diagnosed

  1. Hi ,
    My baby boy is 10 weeks.My breast have changed during pregnancy. After delivery via c – section my milk doesn’t seem full as well as drain. When the doctor presses it started to drain & boost after some 4 to 5 days after. Is there any IGT case? In addition to this as you all know milk supply has decreased during periods. While in the opposite mine has increased during periods & some 3 to 4 days before period. After my period had gone my milk supply has decreased dramatically to the extent of zero.What is the reason ?what kind of check ups should I take?

  2. Pingback: Breastfeeding exclusively - no solids until 16 months - Umm Natural

  3. My beautiful daughter was born in April 2005 following an emergency C section. She was constantly hungry, and I fed her for 1 hour per 90 minute period 24 hours per day before winding up in hospital due to a post-partum infection.

    While in hospital, I experienced pressure from well meaning nurses who may have believed that my daughter had lost weight due to my neglect. I was told : ” You must feed” I was exhausted and broke down, explaining to one nurse:

    “All I do is feed. Isabella’s hungry! ”

    The nurse that I spoke to at the time saw my tears and replied:” I know what you are going through.”

    The next morning, the hospital’s lactation consultant arrived at my bedside and asked to take a look at what was going on. She observed me feeding my daughter. No problems with latching on/attachment there! Then the consultant asked me whether it would be OK to have a look at my breasts.

    The verdict? “I’m really sorry but you done have enough breast tissue. You will need to feed your daughter formula.”

    I sobbed because I had wanted to share the breast feeding bond with my daughter so much. I refused to accept an end to this.

    The lactation consultant must have seen my determination, because she introduced me to “line feeding” whereby a mother continues to feed a baby what breast milk is there while supplementing it all with formula taped through tiny tubes attached to the breast.

    I am proud to say that I continued line feeding (a process involving a lot of sterilization work ) until Isabella decided to wean herself off at the age of 9 months.

    I still have unusual breasts, but I am proud of them because they supported Isabella.

    Isabella is almost 12 now. We are close and I am so grateful that I found help and that we ever gave up.

    If you have this condition, you and your child have options.

    Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. ?

  4. I’m currently pregnant with my third child, and hoping to have more success breastfeeding this time around. My firstborn was a 30 week preemie, and spent his first two months of life in the NICU. I had always known I would breastfeed, and so I was disappointed that I couldn’t do this when my son came along. But I did pump, every one to two hours, round the clock in hopes of increasing my milk supply. I also took reglan. The doctors assured me my low supply was probably just a result of being separated from the baby, and from stress, but it never increased. I totally dried up after just three weeks. So, when my daughter was born two years later at 36 weeks, I was very excited to try breastfeeding again. Within a week she had lost more than 10% of her body weight, despite being fed on demand, which was at least every two hours, usually more frequently than that. I saw lactation consultants, and pumped between the already very frequent feedings. All to no avail. I just wasn’t producing enough milk, and my daughter continued to lose weight. After just two weeks I went exclusively to formula. I was traumatized from the experience and felt betrayed by my body. Wasn’t this exactly what my body should be capable of doing? That’s the reason women have breasts in the first place. Through both these experiences, and despite being seen by several doctors and lactation consultants, no one ever suggested there was anything different about my breasts. They’d always been very small, and odd shaped, but I assumed they were just a variation of normal because no one ever told me they weren’t. Only now after two failed attempts at breastfeeding and research do I realize that they match just about every sign and symptom of hypoplastic breasts. I remember mentioning to my ob during my first pregnancy that my breasts weren’t changing, but he said they would once the baby came. They never did. After three, then four, then five days of waiting for my milk to come in after giving birth, the nurses just kept assuring me it was coming. But it never really did. They never became engorged, or even sore. Now, having this newfound knowledge ahead of delivery this time around, I’m hoping to have a better experience. At the very least I am better prepared and know more what to expect.

  5. In my prior two pregnancies I knew I wasn’t making enough milk. I pumped, and nursed, and pumped, around the clock. No one, not even my midwife or LC could see what the issue was until my youngest had lost almost a pound in his first two weeks. His latch was phenomenal, my breasts…not so much. I tried 3 different manual pumps, 2 different electrical pumps, all the while feeling like I had been left alone.

    We are well know to the plastic surgery world, but not enough in the world where it really matters :breastfeeding.

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