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. Many will receive well-intentioned, but wrong advice from family and friends. We’re going to clear up the myths about moms who have implants and want to breast feed.
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.
Breast feeding women with or without implants may experience the following: Once the baby has been delivered and milk production started, exaggerated breast engorgement may occur. Some women have reported mastitis (painful inflammation of the breast tissue) that is accompanied by more intense pain, chills, and fever than usual.
The milk ducts are responsible for carrying milk to the nipple – and the job of the nerve is to send a signal to the brain to release more hormones, which in turn will help produce more milk.
Is breastfeeding possible?
It all boils down to what kind of implant surgery the patient has had. For example, if the incision for the implant was made under the fold of the breast, or through the armpit, breastfeeding should still be possible. However, if a “smile” incision was made around the areola, it would increase the risk of being able to breast feed properly. The incision can potentially damage the nerves and milk ducts. If the incision was made in the inframmammary fold under the breast tissue to place the implants, there is less chance of damaging the tissue of the breast.
The area where the implants are placed possibly can affect the ability to breastfeed. Breast implants can be placed in between the breast tissue and muscle, or under the chest muscle to prevent any damage done to the milk ducts and nerves. If the implants are located under the chest muscle, it allows for much easier breastfeeding. If they were placed under the glandular tissue (on top of the chest muscle), it may interfere with milk production.
If the patient has feeling in their nipples after the surgery, that is a good indicator that the nerves are working as intended and were not damaged during the surgery. However, if the surgery was recent (within 12-24 months), there is a chance that nipple sensation hasn’t fully returned. In this case it would still be possible to breast feed even though there isn’t full nipple sensation present.
Women with implants who are breastfeeding should also monitor if their baby is getting enough milk daily. If the baby has 6 to 8 wet diapers and 3 to 4 bowel movements per day, this means its getting enough milk. It should also breastfeed any where from 8 to 12 times per day, and it should also be gaining weight. Ask your doctor for more information on how to ensure the baby is getting enough breast milk daily.
If you’re not producing enough milk you can always resort to using a breast pump after each feeding. It will help stimulate the breasts and encourage more milk production. It also helps empty your breasts completely which also will encourage more milk production. Breast massages could help stimulate breasts and increase milk production as well.
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.