Sometimes a woman's breasts don't develop much during puberty but she remains "flat-chested" — without any or much palpable breast tissue. Typically, flat-chested girls do have a nipple that looks swollen or elevated, but for some reason the breasts don't grow in size at all. Flat-chested girls do get pubic hair and start menstruating just normally AND their breasts do have milk glands — it's just that the breasts don't grow in size like most girls.
Unfortunately experts like doctors and lactation consultants don't really know WHY this takes place. It IS known that typically flat-chested women's hormone levels are just fine and they can often successfully breastfeed, so it may be that this represents a problem in the connective tissue inside the breast and not in the actual duct / alveoli system of the breast. It has been suggested that maybe flat-chested women's breast tissue is insensitive to normal levels of circulating hormones.
But no matter what the cause, it won't hurt to eat healthy so as to give your body the best chance to have everything working properly.
During pregnancy the breasts do usually develop more and grow in size, and flat-chested women CAN breastfeed and produce milk. A totally flat woman's breasts can grow to a A or even B cup during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, obviously with small 'storage space' the baby might need to nurse quite often.
A flat chested woman is not abnormal in the sense that her breasts are functional and can make milk. She's also not abnormal in the sense that there are many many other women out there with a flat chest (or almost that). They typically used padded bras so you don't necessarily notice it from outside unless you know the person.
It is true that a flat-chested woman's breasts did not develop as most women's, and lack the fatness, but like already noted, it is not known why this is.
We receive seemingly an endless stream of comments from "flat-chested" teenagers who are very worried about their breast growth. For example: (These are edited for spelling and punctuation)
First of all, many of these girls mention being almost an A cup or so — which is not flat-chested. It may be small breasts, but not truly flat-chested. Secondly, if you're a teenager — and especially if you haven't yet gotten your periods or just recently got them — your breasts are probably still developing and growing, and it's too early to know if you're going to be a true flat-chest.
Another reason why teenagers sometimes have up size A or AA is if they're dieting a lot or even anorexic. So make sure you eat well and healthy; women who are underweight usually have very small breasts. A fatless skinny body means no fat in the breasts either.
USUALLY, flat chested girls' nipple grows bigger or looks 'swollen'. If that is not the case, and if you got your period fairly late... or especially if the period has not yet started at 16, there is a possibility of some hormonal disorder or delayed puberty. It is advisable to see a doctor.
Your breasts may be very small before pregnancy, but they do grow enormously during pregnancy, and are even larger during breastfeeding. See this progression of pictures that someone sent in to us. The lady exclusively breastfed her baby till she was 5.5 months, and was continuing to breastfeed at 22 months.
— AA cup
38 weeks pregnant
3 weeks postpartum
12 weeks postpartum
Many flat-chested girls and women have written to us, noting how they are scared to go swimming, or just refuse to swim, because when they wear a swimsuit, everyone would notice their flat chest. Is there anything you can do if you have this problem?
Of course, you can go swimming and just ignore what others might think. Chances are, not all people pay attention or notice you that closely anyway. However, if this is a REALLY big distress to you, there is something you can get that will help hide the flat chest.
You can get a one-piece swimsuit with a built-in bra and padding. Try also padded tankini tops. Both of those are better than bikinis. However, avoid low necklines. Another possibility is to sew little pockets to an existing swimsuit, and then place gel inserts in those pockets. If you have yet other ideas, let us know!
High school seniors with little or no chest often wonder about prom dresses. They may feel nothing fits them if they can't wear strapless dresses. But, there are choices for you, too. First of all, a dress with a halter. You can search Macy's or Promgirl.com websites or others for a "halter prom dress", and find a nice selection.
Part 2: What if I'm TRULY flat chested — can I get bigger breasts?