Tips: Breastfeeding After Breast Implants
Women considering breast implants, or considering pregnancy after breast implants, understandably worry about the possibility of breastfeeding after breast augmentation. It is possible to breastfeed with implants. Breastfeeding can become more difficult, however, with certain types of augmentation surgery.
Learn more about breastfeeding with implants, and which type of surgery is best suited for breastfeeding success.
Breastfeeding After Implants
While some studies that show women with implants have more trouble breastfeeding than those without, it is possible to breastfeed after breast augmentation. Some augmentation procedures negatively impact breastfeeding more than others. Factors that affect breastfeeding ability include the location of incisions, the placement of the implants, and sensation in the nipples.
Incision placement, that is where the surgeon makes the incisions during a breast augmentation surgery, has a great impact on breastfeeding post-surgery. Breast augmentation incisions around the nipple or areola incur damage to milk ducts which may make breastfeeding difficult or impossible. If breastfeeding is important to you, choose a surgery that places the incisions elsewhere.
Breast augmentation surgery may be performed with incisions hidden in the crease underneath the breast, known as the inframammary fold, incisions in the armpits, or via an incision in the belly button. When incisions are placed in these areas, damage to milk ducts is minimal or non-existent.
Implants placed above the muscle may interfere with the breast’s milk ducts, which extend far below the surface of the skin. Implants placed underneath the pectoral muscle keeps milk ducts intact and makes breastfeeding after augmentation much easier.
If breastfeeding is in your future, talk to your doctor about locating your implants below the chest muscle and away from the sensitive tissue behind your nipples.
Preserving Nipple Sensation
Nipple sensation plays an important role in breastfeeding as the sensation of suckling activates milk production and milk letdown by triggering hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin. Incisions made around the areola can reduce nipple sensation post-surgery, especially in the first few years. Damage to nerves in this area may lead to a reduced milk supply or trouble with the milk letdown reflex.
Breast augmentation surgery that keeps the areola intact is less likely to interfere with nipple sensation.
Pre-Surgery Breast Shape and Breastfeeding
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding after implants, it’s possible it has little to do with the implants themselves. If your breast augmentation surgery was corrective due to asymmetrical breasts, tubular shaped breasts, or under-developed breasts, you may naturally have a low milk supply. Insufficient glandular tissue, not the size of the breast, can lead to low milk supply.
Tips for Breastfeeding with Implants
- Breast feed immediately, especially in the first few weeks. This will cue your body to make more milk.
- Monitor your baby’s weight to ensure milk production is adequate.
- Ensure proper latching by holding your breast behind the areola and ‘feeding’ it to your baby so they take enough of your breast into their mouth.
- Breast feed regularly. The more often you breastfeed, the more milk your body will make. 8-10 times per day is recommended.
- Pump when you can’t breastfeed. Emptying your breasts by using a pump can increase milk production.
- Try herbal supplements such as fennel, milk thistle or fenugreek, which act as galactagogues and may increase milk supply.
- Try lactation cookies, which contain herbal galactagogues, brewer’s yeast, oats or flax seed.
- See a board certified lactation consultant who can observe how you’re feeding and offer personalized, helpful advice.
- Supplement with formula if your milk supply is low. This does not mean you have to stop breastfeeding. Supplemental Nursing Systems can help you supplement with formula while your baby is feeding at your breast.
Is It Safe to Breastfeed with Implants?
Breastfeeding is safe with both silicone or saline implants. In several studies of mothers with silicone implants, measured levels of silicone are no higher in babies who breastfed than babies who didn’t. Saline implants are also proven save as their saline filling poses no risk to the mother or baby, even in the rare event it leaks into the milk supply.
How Will Breastfeeding Affect My Implants?
Breastfeeding won’t have an effect on your implants themselves, but it may change the size and shape of your breasts. It’s completely normal for your breasts to grow in size or become more sensitive during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A healthy areola and nipple area may also grow in size or change color. Keep your breasts well moisturized to reduce itching and prevent stretch marks.
When you’re ready to stop breastfeeding, discontinue slowly over time to prevent engorgement. Your breasts will gradually reduce in size as hormones that trigger milk production and milk letdown subside in response to fewer feedings.