Every year, more than 300,000 women across America get breast implants. Inevitably, some of these women will become pregnant and will start to wonder if they will be able to breastfeed their baby with their implants.
Science and several research studies have found that most women can indeed breastfeed with breast implants – and it’s perfectly safe for the baby. The silicone and various components of the implant will not “leak” into the breast milk of women, nor will their breasts sag after breastfeeding their child.
There are some things you should know regarding breast feeding and breast implants, but in most cases you and your baby will not notice the difference between breast feeding with natural breasts compared to breast feeding with breast implants.
Understanding Breast Implants
Breast implants are either silicone or saline-filled pouches that are surgically inserted into the breast area to help improve the size and shape of the breasts.
Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most popular types of plastic surgery in the world and generally speaking, getting breast implants is very safe. There are always going to be the risks of complications during surgery, but with advances in techniques and technology, those risks are extremely low.
One concern that women have with breast implants is whether it will cause problems when breast feeding their babies, due to the different types of materials used in the implants, as well as the procedure itself.
Is Breastfeeding with Implants Possible?
Being able to properly breastfeed with implants boils down to what decisions were made during the implant surgery.
Surgical Incision Placement
The incision for the breast implant can be done a number of different ways depending on your body and your surgeon, but it’s location can impact breast feeding.
If the incision was made under the fold of the breast, or through the armpit, breastfeeding should still be possible without issue. However, if a “smile” incision was made around the areola, it can increase the risk of impacting milk production as well as flow.
An incision around the areola can potentially damage the nerves and milk ducts. If the incision was made in the inframammary fold under the breast tissue to place the implants, there is less chance of damaging the tissue of the breast.
Breast Implant Placement and Breast Feeding
Another thing you’ll want to be aware of when it comes to breast feeding with implants is the area where the implants are placed.
Breast implants can be placed in between the breast tissue and muscle, or under the chest muscle. If the implants are located under the chest muscle, it allows for less of a chance of impacting breast feeding. If they were placed under the glandular tissue (on top of the chest muscle), there is a greater chance that it could affect milk production and breast feeding.
Nipple Sensitivity and Breast Feeding
If the patient has feeling in their nipples after the surgery, that is a good indicator that the nerves were not damaged and are working as intended. If the surgery was recent (within 12-24 months), and you notice low, or no, sensitivity in the nipples, there’s no reason to worry yet. There is a chance that nipple sensation hasn’t fully returned after the procedure itself. In this case it would still be possible to breast feed even though there isn’t full nipple sensation present.
If your nipples are not sensitive, or you can’t feel them when you touch them, after your surgery, then it may be hard to tell when the baby is latched on and ready to feed. Because of this it can affect your ability to properly provide nutrients to your child, only because you don’t know if the baby is in the proper position.
It doesn’t always mean that your milk production was affected, it just means that it’s harder to tell when the baby is getting its required food supply.
In addition to the factors listed above, there are a few other things to keep in mind when breastfeeding with breast implants:
- Breastfeeding may cause your breasts to sag or change shape over time, especially if you have large implants.
- Breast milk can potentially leak into the implant pocket, which may increase the risk of infection or implant rupture. However, this is very rare and typically only occurs if you have a pre-existing condition, such as a ruptured implant or an infection.
- Some women with breast implants may experience engorgement, which is when the breasts become overly full and uncomfortable. This can usually be managed with proper breastfeeding techniques and by expressing milk as needed.
Breast Feeding with Implants
Until you attempt to breast feed, you won’t know if your milk supply has been affected by your implant surgery. While hindsight is 20-20, and many women with implants get pregnant, it’s best to let your surgeon know that there might be a chance of you getting pregnant at some point in the future. This way they can take that information into consideration when planning out the surgery and perform it in such a way that gives you the best chances of being able to successfully breast feed.
This can help the doctor make a decision about where to place the incision, where to place the implant, and things to talk to you about in regards to possible complications from the breast implant surgery when it comes to breast feeding.
In most cases women with breast implants have no issues with breast feeding and can supply ample nutrients to their growing child, but there are always risks associated with any type of surgery.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your breast implants and breast feeding, be sure to bring those up with your doctor during your consultation. The more information the doctor has, the more prepared they will be come surgery time.