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

April 4, 2014

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.

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

  1. Hi,

    I am 24 and pregnant with my first child and I think I may have IGT as my breasts are quite far apart, appear almost “cone” shaped and I have large areolas.

    However, they have been sore and grown quite a bit due to being pregnant. Does this mean I may still have a chance at breastfeeding?

    Has anyone on here had success breastfeeding with IGT?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Hi, Frances. There are many individual factors that could affect your ability to breastfeed, even if your breast tissue is affected. The first step is to contact a Lactation Consultant to determine if you truly do have IGT. They will be able to provide you personalized support and advice to help you succeed on your breastfeeding journey.

  2. I was recently diagnosed with breast hypoplasia. I am 3 weeks postpartum with my 3rd child.

    After my first child my milk never came in. I had virtually nothing. I tried everything: lactation consultants, breastfeeding herbs, Domperidone (a medication to induce lactation), tube feeding at the breast… nothing helped. I was devastated. I was told if I tried hard enough all women can breastfeed. I became quite depressed feeling like a failure as a mother.

    After my 2nd child I tried again. I even had a private lactation consultant present at the birth to be available to help me immediately. Again came the grief when I couldn’t breastfeed him.

    Fast forward to the present; my daughter was born 3 weeks ago. Again very little milk. This time I saw a very experienced lactation consultant who diagnosed me with breast hypoplasia. It helps a bit psychologically to have a diagnosis. I am giving my daughter the very little breast milk I have but it’s very hard. I am taking domperidone and have to do breast compressions whenever I feed her. I have carpel tunnel and it is flaring up again from the frequent compressions.

    • I’m so sorry you’re feeling like a failure. I also have hypoplasia and was diagnosed after my first child was born last year, so I know the feeling well. My lactation consultant basically said to me to stop trying as I was, at best, able to produce 1-2ml of milk. She said I could keep trying (as you are doing) but that it was okay to just feed him formula. In the end I decided to exclusively formula feed, as the stress and anxiety at every feed was getting too much.

      I really hope you start feeling better soon, and know that however you choose to feed your baby, you are doing it out of love. Best of luck.

  3. I believe I have hypoplasia in one of my breast’s. My right breast worked as it should with both of my kids very easily. I got all the symptoms of milk coming in etc on that side. My left breast never worked even with taking double the max dose of domperidone the most it ever produced was half an ounce. Meanwhile the right side would produce 4-5 oz. I tried everything.. I pumped after every feeding, I followed all of the directions of the nurses and doctors who confirmed latch was good and told me I must be favoring the right side. In actual fact I would start on my left everytime and switched to the right when baby was getting upset at the lack of milk. I had soooo much guilt. I was never properly diagnosed and this lead to some very big post-partum depression issues. Now my kids are 8 and 10 yrs. my right breast looks like a grown woman’s breast with a slight droop as to be expected. Left side looks like a partially developed teenagers breast. I have over 200cc difference in size. My left would fit a B cup and my right is too large for a D. So I buy a D cup and all day my bras twist and slide to the side. I can’t wear striped shirts, low cut neck lines, or anything that defines that I’m supposed to have two breasts. This is a HUGE issue in my life.

    I wish someone had actually told me about this and diagnosed me back when I was struggling with my babies. It took a lot of the joy out of the early years and added a lot of stress.

    I’m sharing this in hopes that someone who is experiencing these issues will read it and know they are not the only one. Hopefully they can know it is not their fault and will not carry the guilt I had.

  4. My milk supply was extremely limited after my son was born (<5ml total per session) and I had little/no change in my breast size during pregnancy other than my areoles getting larger and darker. My lactation consultant diagnosed me with hypoplasia at first sight (my breasts are "textbook" apparently) and started me on metaformin and then added domperidone. This protocol has helped me increase my supply to between 20-40ml per pumping session. And while that's still not enough to exclusively breastfeed, it makes me feel much more confident that my son is getting some of the benefits of breast milk.

  5. When I was a teen, I wondered why my breasts were so saggy, but I didn’t let it bother me much. After I had my first baby in my late 20’s, I tried to BF but struggled a lot. My daughter lost so much weight in the hospital that they told me I’d either have to start supplementing or she’d have to stay. Well you can guess which option I chose. They showed me the syringe/tube method and I did that for several weeks while supplementing with formula. I tried so hard to BF exclusively and tried everything to shift away from the formula. I bought supplements, I used a hospital grade pump, I saw LC’s several times and did everything they told me. A “good” pumping session for me was 2oz from each breast. But when your baby wants at least 8oz at a feeding, there was no way I could provide all she needed so I never ended up moving away from the formula. I felt horrible about it, like I wasn’t a “real woman” because I couldn’t supply enough milk for my child. When I went back to work at 2 months, it was just too much stress to work full-time, pump constantly, and formula feed, so I gave up. It wasn’t until I didn’t some research and discovered I likely have IGT. My breasts look exactly like photos of breasts with IGT and have all the textbook symptoms. I can’t believe none of the LC’s said anything about this to me.
    After I came to terms with my situation, it was much easier to deal with. When I had my second baby, he also lost a significant amount of weight in the hospital. But this time, I asked for formula without hesitation or guilt. I’m now mom to a 3 and 2 year old and they are both perfectly happy with zero health or growth issues and they are hardly ever sick. None of the drama I went through with trying to BF matters now, and I should have never let my inability to produce enough milk upset me the way it did.

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