Structure of the breast

The structure of the breast

  • Each breast has lobes of glands where the milk is made.
  • These glands contain clusters of alveoli — little hollow sacks with milk-making cells around the outside and the milk in the centre.
  • From these alveoli run tubes, called ducts, which carry the milk towards the nipple.
  • The milk flows from these ducts out through tiny openings in the nipple.

The size of the breast is not related to how well it can make milk.

  • The breast is made up of fatty and support tissue as well as milk-making glands.
  • Women store different amounts of milk in their breasts.
  • This is not necessarily related to overall breast size.
  • This may affect how often women need to breastfeed their babies.
  • A woman with a smaller storage volume may need to feed her baby more often than a woman with a larger storage volume.
  • However, both women will make about the same amount of milk each day.
  • It is also common for a mother to have a different amount of storage in one breast compared to the other. She may find her baby spends longer feeding on one side than the other. This is perfectly normal.
  • Babies born to the same mother sometimes have very different feeding patterns.
  • Breast storage volume is only one factor in how often a baby feeds.

 Breast anatomy


breastfeeding and nipple care

Breastfeeding: breast and nipple care

Breastfeeding: Breast and Nipple Care tells you what to expect as your breasts change during pregnancy and briefly covers how breastfeeding works.

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© Australian Breastfeeding Association Reviewed October 2012

Last reviewed: 
Jun 2016