Guest Author - Nicki Heskin
Breast implant surgery is an incredibly common surgery for women today. When younger women get the surgery, the idea of having children or especially breastfeeding may be a distant reality. Upon getting pregnant and being faced with the potential to breastfeed, women often wonder if their chance at success will be affected. For general information about implants and their effect on breastfeeding see my article “Breastfeeding and Breast Implants.” This article contains guidelines and suggested procedures for women with implants who wish to breastfeed their babies.
The truth is that many women with breast implants can breastfeed exclusively (or at least partially) with a small amount of education monitoring in the early weeks of nursing to encourage and ensure a healthy milk supply. Education for women considering breast augmentation on the potential impact on breastfeeding might also help in inform regarding the relative effect of different surgical options. Likelihood of success of breastfeeding after breast augmention can truly only be known by attempting to breastfeed -- there are no standard odds. Ability to produce sufficient milk may also be related to factors other than the surgery. For example, according to The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition (LLLI), those having augmentation surgery because the breasts never developed, there may not have been enough milk-producing glands present in the breast even before the surgery (page 515).
The most important thing to know if breastfeeding with implants is that a breastfeeding log should be kept and the baby's weight gain carefully monitored over the first days, weeks or even months. The baby's pediatrician should be aware of the implants and should help to track the baby's growth themselves or working with a lactation professional. There is no "test" to determine if a woman with implants will be able to breastfeed – the only way to definitively know is to try and to monitor. Also important to know is that an inability to breastfeed exclusively in the past does not rule out the ability to do so in the future. With more time for milk ducts to regenerate, or with more education or support, exclusive breastfeeding may be possible with subsequent babies.
If considering implants, be sure that breastfeeding effects are part of the discussion with the surgeon. If planning to breastfeed or currently attempting to breastfeed with implants, know that it is possible with careful attention to the baby's growth. And remember, with implants or without, the more a baby is brought to breast in the early days the more the body knows to make milk. Active attention to frequent nursing and good latch in the first days and weeks offers the best chance for successful breastfeeding. For women with augmentation, having strong, educated support lined up from the start is especially important.
Disclaimer: All material on the BellaOnline.com Breastfeeding website is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Although every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information as of the date of publication, the author is neither a medical doctor, health practitioner, nor a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). If you are concerned about your health, or that of your child, consult with your health care provider regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation. Information obtained from the Internet can never take the place of a personal consultation with a licensed health care provider, and neither the author nor BellaOnline.com assume any legal responsibility to update the information contained on this site or for any inaccurate or incorrect information contained on this site, and do not accept any responsibility for any decisions you may make as a result of the information contained on this site or in any referenced or linked materials written by others.