Breastfeeding after breast surgery

breastfeeding breast surgeryWhen pregnant, many women who have had breast surgery (eg breast reduction or breast augmentation) are concerned about how it may affect breastfeeding.

For many of these women, one of the best first steps to take is to contact a breastfeeding counsellor or a lactation consultant well before the birth. Attending a Breastfeeding Education Class while pregnant can be helpful too. This can help to dispel some fears and also help to make a breastfeeding plan.

Most mothers who have had breast surgery can breastfeed, at least to some extent. Some mothers find that they:

– Can breastfeed fully (ie without the need to supplement).
– May need to take a galactagogue.
– Can partially breastfeed (ie with the need to supplement somewhat).

Generally, there is no clear way of knowing before the birth which of the above groups a mother who has had breast surgery will fit in to. How the surgery was done can impact upon how it may affect breastfeeding. For example, breast reduction surgery is more likely to cause milk supply problems as compared to breast augmentation surgery. This is particularly the case if the nipple was moved to a new position during the surgery as this disrupts the nerve supply to the nipple and areola. It also depends on to what degree the surgery disrupted the milk glands and milk ducts. However, nerves can regrow, although slowly, and glandular tissue can develop during pregnancy.

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