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Whether you are a pregnant mama who has had a previous breast lift or a woman thinking of a breast lift but wanting to breastfeed your children in the future, you are likely wondering – can you breastfeed after a breast lift?
In this blog post, I am going to answer that exact question for you + many more you may be wondering – or maybe haven’t thought of. Let’s dive in!
Can You Breastfeed After A Breast Lift?
Breastfeeding is 100% possible after a breast lift, but success with breastfeeding varies based on what type of breast surgery you had + the procedures your doctor used when performing the breast surgery.
Most moms don’t report having issues producing breastmilk, but some do struggle a bit with expressing breastmilk to feed their baby. Breastfeeding will likely take a bit more work after a breast lift, but it is not impossible.
Some moms who have had a prior breast lift report that the breastmilk production and delivery system did improve and increase with each consecutive pregnancy, but that they did experience some difficulty with their first child.
The Le Leche League states that women who are over 5 years post-op tend to have the easiest success.
If you haven’t had breast lift surgery yet, but are planning on breastfeeding you should definitely express this to your doctor. Your plastic surgeon will be able to plan your surgery to preserve your ability to express breastmilk to the best potential + increase the ease with which you can breastfeed.
The final thought – every woman is different + you won’t really know what your breastfeeding journey will be like after a breast lift until you have a baby and try to breastfeed.
How Does A Breast Lift (or Surgery) Affect Breastmilk Production?
In order for your body to produce + express breastmilk 3 components must work together – nerves, hormones, + milk ducts. Any interruption in the cycle of these 3 components working together can cause an issue with breastfeeding.
Let’s cover each in a bit more detail…
Hormones – Prolactin + Oxytocin
Prolactin is a hormone made by your pituitary gland that is responsible for your breast growth + milk production during pregnancy + lactation. Oxytocin helps to release breastmilk that is already in the breast at the beginning of a feeding or pumping session.
Both the production + delivery of these hormones are not affected by breast surgery.
Nerves are located all around your breast tissue (glandular tissue) – the areola and nipple being heavily rich in nerve endings. Nerves located near and around the nipple are what cause the nipple sensation that triggers your “let-down” reflex in response to your baby sucking.
Nerve damage or nerves affected by breast surgery is largely dependent on whether the nipple + areola was left intact during your surgery.
These nerves may or may not regenerate, but most surgeons state they take around 2 years to repair if they do at all.
Your milk ducts don’t actually need to do their job until your baby is born + you start breastfeeding. Milk ducts are often severed during some breast surgeries + is often why many moms have problems with the delivery of breastmilk.
There luckily is evidence that these pathways that are severed will reconnect – or new ones will be built which is known as recanalization. The fewer milk duct pathways you have working in each breast the amount of milk will be less.
Type of Breast Surgery Matters
In all honesty, any type of breast augmentation surgery is going to have a small effect on your breastmilk production + delivery.
Breast reductions have the most impact on your ability to breastfeed, as you are removing functions parts of your breast. Breast lifts, nipples, or diagnostic surgeries tend to have the least effect.
The plastic surgery procedures + techniques that were used by your surgeon play a huge part in how difficult your breastfeeding journey may be.
The more of the nipple, areola, + milk duct that are left intact the easier it is to breastfeed post-op. The type of incision – length and depth – may also have some effect on your breastmilk production later on.
Milk ducts can be reattached, but you may experience some decrease in your milk production versus the norm. Although, if you haven’t had children + breastfed before your breast surgery you are likely not to know any different.
If you haven’t had a breast lift – or other breast surgery – yet, make sure to emphasize to your doctor that breastfeeding is a future goal of yours. This will allow them to use the proper procedures + techniques to maximize your chances of a successful breastfeeding journey.
Build A Support System During Pregnancy
There is unfortunately not a lot of research on breast feeding after a breast lift procedure or breast reduction. As a result, not many nurses or lactation consultants may have the experience or expertise to help you through your breastfeeding journey post-breast surgery.
Finding a lactation consultant who has the experience + the knowledge to help you BEFORE you have your baby is crucial to your breastfeeding success. You may have no issues or need them much, but it’s better to be prepared!
Lactation consultants with experience working with post-breast lift mamas can help you prepare and be proactive – this is the one this I have heard from moms that is the most helpful.
The other huge player in your support system you should look for while pregnant is a supportive pediatrician. I have personally had experiences with pediatricians who are not pro-breastfeeding + push supplementation – even with moms not struggling with supply issues.
Many mamas recommend the book, Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery by Diana West, as a great tool to help you along your breastfeeding journey.
Have An Open Mind to What Successful Breastfeeding Looks Like
When looking forward to your breastfeeding journey – regardless if you’ve had a cosmetic surgery procedure or not – you need to be open-minded to what your definition of successful breastfeeding looks like.
Success doesn’t always look like your baby receiving 100% of their nutrition from breastmilk. The mom who exclusively breastfeeds until her baby is 2 is just as successful at breastfeeding as the mom who supplements + offers expressed breastmilk once or twice a day.
Every drop of breastmilk counts. No matter how much breastmilk your baby receives daily they are still receiving the benefits including antibodies.
It’s great to have a breastfeeding goal and to discuss your goal with your lactation consultant and pediatrician, but make sure that you are flexible with your goal. Be open to the idea of your breastfeeding journey being a bit different than you may picture before the birth of your baby.
What Can You Do To Help Increase Milk Production?
Many new mothers – especially moms with previous breast surgery – worry if they will produce enough milk. The best thing that you can do to increase your breast milk production is to work with a lactation consultant. Here are a few little pointers you can consider when you are struggling with a low milk supply:
- Latch your baby as often as you can
- Manual (hand) express often when you are unable to bring your baby to your breast
- Pump or express breast milk after each feeding – or in place of the feeding – if your baby will not latch
- Try some relaxation techniques like a breastfeeding vacation or a lactation massager
- Try herbal or medicinal techniques like galactagogues
- Make sure you are eating the best diet for breastfeeding mamas
Remember that you have to allow for recanalization of your milk ducts if they have been severed during your breast surgery. Express as much milk as you can – bring baby to breast or pump or hand express – within those first two weeks after birth.
The more you demand from your breast the more breastmilk they will produce.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Breastfeeding after a breast lift is possible. The difficulty that you may experience when starting out on your breastfeeding journey is dependent on a number of factors like the type of breast surgery or surgical techniques that were used during your breast surgery.
Remember that to set yourself up for optimal success along your breastfeeding journey after breast surgery to consult with a lactation consultant who has experience helping other moms who have had a previous breast lift. Also, make sure to find yourself a supportive pediatrician.
Most importantly be flexible with what a successful breastfeeding journey looks like to you. Every drop of breast milk counts. The length of your breastfeeding journey is dependent on yourself and your baby – no one else’s opinion.
Follow @raising.tiny.foodies on Instagram for more tips and tricks to help you with breastfeeding your little one.