Breast reduction and Breast Feeding
Women with heavy and pendulous breast who want to nurse their babies in future have this question on the top of their mind-“Would I be able to breast feed my baby after breast reduction surgery?”” Does breast reduction surgery affect breast feeding?”
|Heavy breasts can cause pain|
in the neck and shoulder
While on one hand they are concerned about their body image and suffering from pain in neck and shoulder because of heavy breasts, on the other hand is the dilemma that after breast reduction, they would not be able to breast feed their baby.
While breast reduction surgery always almost compromises your lactation capability to an extent, women can still breast feed her baby after breast reduction surgery. The question is how much would you be able to breast feed the baby.
It is helpful to understand the process of milk production to understand how breast reduction surgery affects lactation:
The breast is a gland which consists of connective and fatty tissues which support and protect the milk producing areas of the breast called alveoli from where the milk travels down through ducts to nipples.
Breast feeding success is not linked to the size of your breasts or nipples- It is rather a demand and supply process, the more you nurse, the more milk you produce.
When your baby nurses, the action of the baby’s jaw and tongue simulates the nerve endings in the nipple and areola, which signals the pituitary gland in the brain to release prolactin and oxytocin, the two hormones which affect mild production and let down of milk.
The baby’s pressing down of nipple on milk sinuses creates suction and the milk to flow from breast to the baby’s mouth.
The nerve endings are thus vital to breast feeding as they trigger the release of hormones which affect the milk production.
Thus, when you are undergoing breast reduction, you must inform your surgeon that you wish to breast feed in future so that the nerve endings are left undisturbed as much as possible. The surgeon in that case lets the nipple and areola to remain attached to the breast tissue beneath it, for you to breast feed the baby in future.
There would of course be limitation to the extent that breast reduction can be done in that case. If your breasts are too heavy and pendulous, the best results from breast reduction surgery can be obtained by removing the nipple areola complex and then attaching it to the reconstructed breast. However, if nipple and areola are removed and then placed on the reconstructed breast, damage to the nerves, milk ducts and breast tissue would limit your milk flow and diminish sensation in your nipples. This is a trade off you need to consider.
Women who have had their nipples and areola completely removed and grafted, are able to feed colostrums to the baby because that is hormonally produced. But since the nerves are damaged, enough milk shall not be produced to feed the baby.
Research also shows that women after five years of their breast reduction surgery have a greater chance of being successful in breast feeding their baby than women who try earlier. This is because of the body repairing mechanism through which the body repairs its mammary system, a process known as recanalization. With each pregnancy, breast feeding becomes easier as breast tissue grows during pregnancy and makes the breast ready for lactation.
You can usually check before pregnancy if you would be able to breast feed by checking on whether your nipple and areola are sensitive to touch or hot and cold stimulation. The more you can “feel” the better chances that you shall lactate. It is seen that woman who has had good milk supply before the surgery will usually not have problem with lactation after the surgery, but if she has had problem before the surgery, she would most likely to have even less supply after the surgery as well.
Most mothers who have had breast reduction surgery can breast feed, at least to some extent. Some mothers find that:
- · They can fully breast feed their baby
- · They need to take galactagogues ( food, hers or medicines to increase milk supply)
- · They can partially breast feed their baby (the baby needs some supplement)
However, there is no clear way of knowing which category would you fall into before the birth of the baby.
The best is to discuss your goals clearly with your plastic surgeon and understand the procedure and results well. The surgeon can adjust the procedure in a way that it maintains your ability to breast feed in future. A good breast feeding counselor or lactation consultant also helps to ensure that you breast feed your little one well.
|You can breast feed after breast reduction, |
how much is the question
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