Midwife, Lactation consultant (IBCLC), Child and Family Health Nurse, Babywearing consultant and mum of two, Bel Moore, discusses everything you need to know about breastfeeding after breast surgery.
Breastfeeding. Some women who have had any type of breast surgery may have concerns on how this will affect their ability to breastfeed but luckily enough most find it has little effect.
Breastfeeding after breast surgery – here’s what you need to know
A mother’s milk production capability will fall somewhere on a continuum of full milk supply, a partial milk supply, or no milk supply at all, but generally there is no clear way of knowing prior to the birth of the baby what affect the surgery has had on the ability to breastfeed.
Here’s some information that might help you predict what affect Breast Augmentation surgery may have on your breastfeeding journey:
- Reason for breast augmentation. Women who have a breast augmentation due to lack of glandular tissue or hypoplasia (breast that appear tubular- shaped, widely spaced, undeveloped or asymmetrical) may have had reduced milk production capability prior to the surgical procedures.
- Placement of the implant. Implants can be placed behind or in front of the chest muscle. Implants placed on top of the chest muscle increase the risk of reduced milk production due to pressure on the glandular tissue obstructing the flow.
- How the surgery was performed. Severing ducts and nerves can result in lower milk production. The location and extent of the incision/s can determine how the milk supply is affected.
- Incision or changes to the nipple’s position. Nerves response from the nipple and areola area is situated in the lower outer quadrant of the breast. Any disruption of these can reduce the milk ejection response (let down) which will effect ability to breastfeed and consequently milk supply
Some women have concerns over implants “leaking” and being toxic for a breastfeeding baby, however research provides assurance that with good quality implants in Australia, there are no known dangers to either the mother or baby when breastfeeding with implants.
Breast reduction surgery is more likely to cause milk supply issues than a breast augmentation for a few reasons:
- Glandular tissue and fat are being taken away to reduce the size/volume of the breast. This can interrupt nerves and ducts that are needed for milk production. Depending on time between surgery and pregnancy, glandular tissue can redevelop and nerves can regrow.
- The nipple usually needs to be moved to higher position to suit the new breast shape. This can further damage the nerves and ducts, which can impact on ejection reflex and milk production.
Women who have had a mastectomy for breast cancer are usually able to breastfeed from the other breast and their supply will regulate to the needs of the baby.
Tips to increase breastfeeding success after breast surgery:
- Seek information about what surgery/procedure was performed – Surgical technique can affect ability to breastfeed. Being able to discuss what occurred with your pregnancy health care providers may help predict the likelihood of producing breast milk and will help build a breastfeeding plan.
- Attend a breastfeeding education class
- Make contact with a lactation consultant if you need additional information or assistance (the gold standard in breastfeeding assistance)
- Have skin to skin contact for at least 2 hours post birth
- Early breastfeed within 2 hours of birth
- Feed on demand or express regularly – see this article for expressing tips.
- Educate yourself on breast milk supply – Check out this article.
- If supply is low, try feeding at the breast with a supplemental nursing system (SNS)
- Ask your doctor about herbal and prescription galactagogues. Healthy Mummy Smoothies contain natural milk boosting ingredients.
Unlike many shakes that are full of caffeine and weight-loss accelerants, Healthy Mummy Smoothies are CAFFEINE AND ACCELERANT-FREE.
Healthy Mummy Smoothies are made with whole foods, and are especially formulated to give you the boost of vitamins and minerals needed to support you if breastfeeding.