Women desiring a breast reduction may hesitate to undergo the procedure if they plan to become mothers and breastfeed in the future. It is a genuine concern, as breast reduction can affect the milk supply. However, how the doctor performs the surgery can make a huge difference in whether breastfeeding is possible.
Just a few years ago, most women could not breastfeed after breast reduction. New techniques that preserve lactation have reversed that trend, and now a significant percentage of women can nurse their infants after breast reduction surgery.
The ability for a woman to nurse after breast reduction surgery depends on the preservation of the milk duct system and its nerves. The nerves trigger the release of hormones necessary for milk production. Milk production cannot occur without the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
If the nipple and areola remain attached to the breast during the surgery, there is less effect on milk production. The same holds true if the incisions are not made under the breast fold or armpit.
The downside is that mothers cannot be sure the nerves were not damaged until they attempt to nurse. That is why it is critical to consult a plastic surgeon well-versed in preserving nursing ability after breast reduction.
Depending on the surgery, breast reduction can result in nipple sensitivity. In this instance, it is not milk supply that is the issue, but rather the pain accompanying suckling.
Another common breastfeeding issue for women after breast reduction includes more engorgement on one side than the other. Again, the level of experience regarding breast reduction surgery for women who plan to become pregnant can help reduce the chances of these side effects.
After breast reduction surgery, women who try to nurse often find their milk supply is inadequate for providing complete nourishment to their infant. That does not mean they shouldn’t attempt to breastfeed. Even some breast milk is preferable to a diet consisting solely of formula. Many women nursing after breast reduction will have to keep supplemental formula on hand.
There are ways to increase milk production to boost the odds of successful nursing after breast reduction. First, feed your infant as soon as possible after birth. The precious “first milk,” or colostrum, produced by the breasts contains antibodies that boost the baby’s immune system and help fight infection.
It is vital to produce milk in the first two weeks after birth. In a sense, this frequent milk production “primes the pump” so that making milk becomes easier.
Other ways to increase milk production include:
New mothers may want to work with certified lactation consultants who specialize in breastfeeding after breast reduction clients. Look for those certified with the U.S. Lactation Consulting Association (USLCA).
Numerous support groups exist on Facebook and other social media sites. Women can gain valuable information from others going through similar experiences.
One thing you don’t have to worry about – your breasts will return to their reduced size once the baby is weaned. The breasts do become larger after pregnancy and nursing. That’s natural.
After breast reduction surgery, you may find you cannot nurse your baby without performing some extra work. Since breastfeeding success varies so much between mothers (including those who did not undergo any breast surgery), don’t feel you were unsuccessful if you could not nurse your baby for the full first year of life. The truth is that not many mothers achieve that goal without the use of supplemental formula.
Measure success instead by the intimate contact nursing provides with your baby. That skin-to-skin contact is so vital for bonding.
Know that you did the best you could. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty regarding any of your choices, whether it was having a breast reduction or nursing your offspring.
Your large breasts are causing pain or inhibiting your ability to participate in athletic activities. You do not have to put up with the discomfort resulting from overly large breasts for years due to worries about breastfeeding.
If you would like to undergo breast reduction but are hesitant because you see motherhood and breastfeeding in your future, schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alexis Parcells in Sea Girt, New Jersey. She will answer your questions so you can make an informed decision regarding breast reduction and future breastfeeding.
Parcells Plastic Surgery offers the most advanced surgical and cosmetic medical spa treatments to women in New Jersey.
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alexis Parcells is here to educate and empower you to celebrate your natural beauty.655 Shrewsbury Ave, Suite 207, Shrewsbury, New Jersey 07702 700 Crescent Place, Sea Girt NJ 08750