What is the relationship between breast size and milk production?
Breast size is a very poor guide to how much milk is going to be produced. Size is mainly determined by the proportion of breast tissue that is composed of fat (which has no function in milk production) rather than the milk-producing glandular tissue. The more fat there is in the breasts, the bigger the breasts. Milk also continues to be produced during the actual action of suckling.
A woman with an ample chest should not take it for granted that she will flood the world with milk, nor should a not so well-endowed woman have sleepless nights worrying about starving her baby.
Another not uncommon concern is that breastfeeding may cause the breasts to change shape and be less firm as a consequence. Is this true?
In the Western world, the breast is established as a sexual organ. Keeping the breast as attractive to the opposite sex as possible is therefore an aspect that cannot be ignored. The idea that breast-feeding makes the breast sag is actually not based on fact. What is true is that pregnancy may bring about changes which may include increase in size, changes in shape and an appearance of reduced firmness. When these changes have occurred, breast-feeding will not make any difference. If the changes have not occurred with pregnancy, breastfeeding will not bring them about.
There is some truth in the contention that breast changes brought about by pregnancy are more pronounced in some races than others. Black women appear to have more pronounced changes while oriental women have the least. Caucasian women fall somewhere in between.
Cosmetic considerations should really not feature in deciding whether to breast-feed or not. It does not make any difference.
Are there any creams or lotions which can be used to ensure the breasts stay firm during pregnancy?
The changes to the breasts that occur during pregnancy are a direct effect of the hormones that are in high concentrations during pregnancy. The changes therefore come from within and applying anything to the skin outside will not make an iota of difference.
Regarding breast-feeding technique - how easy is it to master this?
It differs from person to person. In virtually every country in the world, midwives - or at least some of them - are trained to help first-time mothers master this art. To begin with, a midwife will ensure the baby is held properly to the breast and the appropriate amount of the breast is in the baby's mouth. This is commonly known as "fixing".
Sucking follows quite naturally after that. Once it is mastered, a woman often wonders what all the fuss was about. Mind you, the early process can be quite trying for some women, especially if there is also some delay in full milk flow and the baby is restless and irritable. Some women give up at this point. In virtually all maternity units, the proportion of mothers who are breast-feeding when discharged is smaller than that of those whose intention it was to breast-feed at delivery.