Nursing After Breast Surgeries

6/27/2018

If you’ve had or are considering breast augmentation or reduction surgery, you may wonder how these procedures can impact your ability to breastfeed. The short answer is: every case is different. Some women breastfeed successfully after these surgeries, while others have difficulty producing enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery

It’s crucial to discuss your future breastfeeding plans with your surgical team prior to the procedure. During breast reduction surgery, some glandular tissue is removed, milk ducts and nerves are cut, and the nipple may be moved, all of which can impact the breast’s ability to produce and express milk. Luckily, new techniques help surgeons protect some of the parts of the breast that make milk. Discussing your goals for breastfeeding after your breast reduction surgery ahead of time can help your surgeon adjust their techniques to give you the best outcome possible.

After having had breast reduction surgery, take extra care to get breastfeeding off to a strong start and build your milk supply. Tell your baby’s healthcare provider that you’ve had the surgery so they can help you closely monitor your little one’s growth and diaper output for the first month or so, to ensure baby is receiving the nutrients he needs to thrive. You may find that your milk supply will improve over time, as the glandular tissue grows during lactation, but don’t hesitate to get the support of an expert Lactation Consultant if you have questions or concerns about your supply or successfully breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery.

Breastfeeding After Breast Augmentation Surgery

While any form of breast surgery carries some risk that ducts and nerves may be damaged, most women have successful experiences when breastfeeding with implants. Like in breast reduction surgery, surgical techniques are constantly evolving and improving outcomes for women who wish to breastfeed after these procedures. Some important considerations if you’re thinking about breast enhancement are:

  • Reason for the Surgery: If you’re getting implants because your breast development is abnormal in some way, it’s possible that your breasts naturally have too little glandular tissue to bring in a full milk supply. In this case, your ability to produce milk may be hindered regardless of the surgery.

  • Location of the Incisions: The location of the implant surgery can impact breastfeeding. When the implants are inserted from beneath the breast or under the arm, there’s less risk of damage to nerves and milk ducts important for breast milk production. If the implants are inserted at the edge of the areola, there’s a higher chance that the nerve sensation to the nipple will be damaged. If this happens, both milk supply and milk release can be affected.

  • Location of the Implant: There is usually less interference with milk supply and a higher likelihood of successfully breastfeeding with implants when they are placed under the muscle of the chest wall versus directly beneath the glandular tissue. If the implant is directly under the glandular tissue, it can put pressure on milk ducts which could lead to reduced milk supply.

As with breast reduction surgery, tell your baby’s healthcare provider about your surgical history and breastfeeding goals, take steps to get your milk production off to a strong start, and reach out to a Lactation Consultant if you need extra breastfeeding support.

Remember, every breastfeeding experience is different. While not all moms who have undergone breast surgery will be able to exclusively breastfeed, every drop of liquid gold you give your baby provides amazing benefits that will give them the best start possible to life. Plan ahead, don’t be afraid to reach out for support, and find inspiration to reach your goals in the incredible life you’ve brought into the world!