Next Article in Journal
Maternal Perceptions of Sick/Preterm Infant Sleep and Settling Patterns in the First 9 Months
Previous Article in Journal
Human Milk Expression Technologies: An Evaluation of Mobility and Comfort Perception of a Hands-Free, In-Bra, Breastmilk Collection Pump Set
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Maternal Factors and Breast Anatomy and Milk Production during Established Lactation †

School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
ABREAST Network, Perth, WA 6000, Australia
UWA Centre for Human Lactation Research and Translation, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
Mathematics and Statistics, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Australian Breastfeeding + Lactation Research and Science Translation Conference (ABREAST Conference 2023), Perth, Australia, 10 November 2023.
Proceedings 2023, 93(1), 11;
Published: 21 December 2023


Animal models show a more rapid mammary gland response and more milk with subsequent lactations, as well as impairment of lactation performance by obesity. Whilst maternal obesity is linked to reduced breastfeeding initiation, breastfeeding confidence, and duration as well as early introduction of formula, maternal adiposity, breast anatomy and milk production (MP) have not been assessed in this population. Thirty-four lactating mothers 1–6 months postpartum and with BMI range of 17–35 kg/m2 participated in this study. We conducted ultrasound examination imaging to assess breast anatomy. The amount of glandular tissue (glandular tissue representation (GTR)) was classified as low, moderate, or high. Number and diameters of milk ducts as well as mammary blood flow (the resistive index) were measured. Maternal bra cup volume was calculated from current bra size. Maternal body composition was measured with bioimpedance spectroscopy. Mothers completed a questionnaire regarding their medical, obstetric and lactation history, and conducted a 24 h MP study to enable calculation of total volume, average and maximum feed volumes and breast storage capacity (24 h MP parameters). For statistical analysis, we used the correlation networks method (directions of multiple significant correlations are reported). Correlation networks show that pathways culminating in either high or low MP start as early as puberty. In this study, later menarche correlates with the absence of breast growth during both puberty and pregnancy, which further correlate with lower numbers of ducts and smaller diameters. Higher maternal adiposity correlates with larger bra cup volume (both correlate with absence of breast growth during pregnancy and low GTR) and lower 24 h MP parameters. Larger numbers of ducts and duct diameters correlate with higher parity and longer durations of previous lactations, and higher 24 h MP parameters. Mammary blood flow shows no correlations. Findings from this cross-sectional study corroborate animal studies showing that a number of modifiable and non-modifiable maternal factors may impact breast development and MP. Further research may inform interventions, such as maintaining healthy adiposity not only during pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation, but as early as childhood and potentially infancy. Moreover, the results provide rationale for antenatal lactation assessment of women and intervention in high-risk mothers to ensure they reach their full lactation potential.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, Z.G. and D.T.G.; methodology, D.T.G., C.T.L., A.R., D.W. and Z.G.; data collection, D.T.G. and Z.G.; formal analysis, Z.G., A.R. and D.W.; investigation, D.T.G. and Z.G.; resources, D.T.G.; data curation, D.T.G., J.L.M. and Z.G.; writing—original draft preparation, Z.G.; writing—review and editing, A.R., D.W., J.L.M., C.T.L., S.L.P. and D.T.G.; visualization, Z.G.; supervision, D.T.G.; project administration, J.L.M.; funding acquisition, D.T.G. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by unrestricted research grant from Medela AG (Switzerland). The funder had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at The University of Western Australia (RA/4/20/6407) and conducted in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Restrictions apply to the availability of some or all data generated or analyzed during this study. The corresponding author will on request detail the restrictions and any conditions under which access to some data may be provided.


We thank all our participants and their families for their time and help with this research.

Conflicts of Interest

D.T.G. declares participation in the Scientific Advisory Board of Medela AG. Z.G., J.L.M., C.T.L., S.L.P. and D.T.G. are/were supported by an unrestricted research grant from Medela AG, administered by The University of Western Australia. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results. All other authors declare no conflict of interest.
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Gridneva, Z.; Rea, A.; Weight, D.; McEachran, J.L.; Lai, C.T.; Perrella, S.L.; Geddes, D.T. Maternal Factors and Breast Anatomy and Milk Production during Established Lactation. Proceedings 2023, 93, 11.

AMA Style

Gridneva Z, Rea A, Weight D, McEachran JL, Lai CT, Perrella SL, Geddes DT. Maternal Factors and Breast Anatomy and Milk Production during Established Lactation. Proceedings. 2023; 93(1):11.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gridneva, Zoya, Alethea Rea, David Weight, Jacki L. McEachran, Ching Tat Lai, Sharon L. Perrella, and Donna T. Geddes. 2023. "Maternal Factors and Breast Anatomy and Milk Production during Established Lactation" Proceedings 93, no. 1: 11.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop