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.

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

  1. This article was so great to read. When I was pregnant with my first son, I knew something was off when I had zero breast changes. I wanted to breastfeed and when I gave birth and never got milk it was hard. I had all these lactation consultants acting as if I just wasn’t trying enough. It was hard when I knew I was trying but it just wasn’t going to work. I hate that everyone acts like as if you’re horrible for not breastfeeding, when I didn’t have a choice. I’m now 8months pregnant and once again have zero breast change. This time I will not allow myself to be judged and belittled for something completely out of my control and I let everyone know right away.

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experience. We’re sorry to hear that you encountered professionals that weren’t educated about IGT/Mammary Hypoplasia – how frustrating. Know that you’re not alone and no matter how you feed your baby, you’re a great mom. Congratulations on your growing family and enjoy this special time. Glad that you found our blog post.


    • I feel so confused when people say zero breast changes. My breast are characteristic of hypoplasia as far as high mamary fold and tubular with large areola. How ever I have noticed changes. Not much in size but in color of the areola darkening, nipple enlarging, and leaking from about 19 weeks on. I’m currently 25 weeks and havnt noticed any more change in size but the rest has continued.

      • Hi Tessa,

        First off – congratulations on your growing family! It’s important to note that every woman is different and signs (and degrees) of mammary hypoplasia can vary. If you have questions or think that you may have insufficient glandular tissue, we suggest that you reach out to your OB/GYN or other healthcare professional, as they would be best suited to diagnose and help manage IGT.

        Hope this helps!

  2. it’s sad to hear that mom’s are unable to get the help and information they need to make it possible for them to provide them with the care that may be needed in order to be successful. But it’s also important for care professionals to be amicable to continuing their education so that they are aware of issues that may cause mom’s difficulty greater than not wanting/trying. I have seen many moms who desperately want to breastfeed who could not as well as moms who had plenty of milk and did not want to. It’a also good to be able to help the mom with alternatives when doing it themselves it not a possibility.

    • Hi DJuna,

      We couldn’t agree more. It’s so important for all moms to have access to the support they need. Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective!


  3. Thank you for this post! Last baby, I thought I was going crazy, feeding for hours at the breast and then pumping for hours, only to pump 1 oz. total with both breasts and still have a starving baby. Now, if we could just educate physicians and lactation consultants on the issue, perhaps mothers like us will have even more resources to help us. I’m starting my 2nd pregnancy and noticing more breast growth this time around, so I’m hopeful I can produce more. Also plan on researching things to do before baby is here to help increase production (if possible) and get things off to a good start. Know you’re not alone IGT moms! We are out there.

    • Yes.. I’m from kuwait and i had the same problem.. i really want to tell everyone about it so that women with igt don’t suffer as i did.. im thinking of starting a campagn to tell the world about this condition

  4. It is very comforting to see that other women are sharing the same feelings I have when I realized I had to supplement with both my first and now my second child. Sometimes I feel so alone in this battle since I don’t know anyone else with IGT. With my first, I was so excited to breastfeed and felt successful in the beginning because my son latched right away. However, my son couldn’t get back up to birth weight and I kept waiting for my milk to come in. My mom finally told me she had supply issues with all four of her children and her grandmother had the same problem. With my second son I knew I would have a similar problem and told the lactation consultant. She looked at me and immediately recognized the signs of mammary hypoplasia/IGT. I have tried pumping, fenugreek, blessed thistle, mother’s milk and lactation cookies. Nothing helps. I cried when feeding my first son formula. I did a BF/FF combo for the first year with him. I am handling it better this time around, but it is still beyond frustrating that I can’t do the one thing I wanted to do with my children – breastfeed exclusively. My second son is 6 weeks old and the BF/FF is working. It takes a TON of time and effort, but I know it is worth it.

    • Hi Kat,

      Congratulations on your new little one! We’re proud of you for your dedication to breastfeeding in the face of some big challenges. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with IGT.

      Have a great day!

  5. I have hypoplasia, but still attempt to breastfeed. My daughter is now 4 months old. I pump at work to keep my little supply still going. I get about an ounce per breast usually each time I pump at work. However, I noticed that a lot of breast is pulled into the flange, and by Thursday my breasts hurt quite a bit whenever I pump. Week after week I get the same result. I’d buy a smaller flange, but then I think it would be too small for my nipple. Is there any way to get around this issue? Could it be the hypoplasia and odd breast shape that prevents the pump and flange from working correctly? Any suggestions would be great.

    • Hi Jami,

      Our breastshield sizing guide can help you determine your best fit: You may wish to try a smaller size if your breast is being pulled into the flange. Some women also need a different size for each breast. If you have any further questions, our Lactation Consultant can help:

      Keep up the great work!

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