There are several different types of breast surgeries that can cause problems when breastfeeding. Here we will discuss breast augmentation, breast lift or reduction, breast biopsy, lumpectomy and mastectomy (complete removal or parts of the breast)
Many women with breast implants can still breastfeed, but it can hinder milk production and/or milk transfer.
Women who have the implants placed under the muscle have a better chance of being able to breastfeed, compared to those who have them put between the muscle and the breast tissue.
The incision on the naval is the safest way to put implants it, if I woman still wants to breastfeed afterwards.
If the nerves are severed during the augmentation, and the mother has loss of sensitivity in her nipples, the normal stimulation of the nipple whilst breastfeeding may not activate the release of prolactin and oxytocin, which triggers milk production.
The pressure of the implant on the milk producing cells, may also cause a low milk supply.
Milk ducts and nerves that have been severed, can repair themselves over time, most find, that they have less breastfeeding problems if they have the baby more than 5 years after surgery.
Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery should be discussed with your doctor. The inferior pedicle technique is the best way to have this surgery done, if a mother still plans on breastfeeding. The areola and nipple are left attached while the surrounding tissues are reduced instead of lifting the areola and severing nerves and milk ducts.
A small incision is made to remove a lump. Breastfeeding can usually continue soon afterwards, as long as the incision is not near the nipple where the baby’s mouth touches. Medications that are safe to take whilst breastfeeding, should be discussed as alternatives.
A mother may need to temporarily wean her baby if she has to undergo radiation or chemotherapy. A mother can pump and dump her milk during this time, to keep her supply up.
Depending on the location of the lump, or if nerves where severed, a mother should be able to breastfeed in the future. If one breast if producing little or no milk, she can continue to breastfeed exclusively from the other breast alone.
If breastfeeding is not possible from one breast, the mother can continue to breastfeed from the other. She may also need to wean temporarily as with a lumpectomy.
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Information through Childbirth International on the physiology of breastfeeding / breast surgery and breastfeeding.
End of breast surgery and breastfeeding page