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I have breast implants, can I still breastfeed?
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If you are pregnant and have breast implants, you are probably wondering if you will be able to breastfeed safely. You are not alone. In fact, many new moms with breast implants often ask if they can safely and successfully breastfeed.
In short, the answer is most certainly yes. With careful planning, preparation and education, you can successfully breastfeed your baby. Below are answers to seven common questions moms ask.
Should I even bother breastfeeding?
You have probably heard breast milk referred to as liquid gold, that’s because your breast milk is way more than just nutrition for your baby. Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of developing certain diseases like diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer. For your baby, breast milk protects them from certain diseases and promotes optimal brain and body growth. We encourage all moms to try to breastfeed, including those with implants. Even if you experience challenges with producing milk, keep on trying, or speak with your doctor. Don’t let implants deter you from breastfeeding your baby.
How do I prepare for breastfeeding with implants?
Start with your history. Well before your baby is born, you should discuss prior breast surgery with your obstetrician. If you have implants, make sure your doctor knows what type, when they were placed, the surgical method used, and any problems you’ve had with them. Even if you had surgery when you were 19, your doctor needs to be informed. The prenatal period is the best time to align the right resources to prepare you for a positive breastfeeding experience.
How will implants affect my breastfeeding experience?
Many women wonder if breast implants will affect their ability to produce milk. Several studies were done on this subject, including one I published in 19961. In my study, I found implants don’t necessarily have an impact on the mother’s ability to secrete milk. I did note women with a periareolar incision (around the base of the nipple) had more problems with breastfeeding. However, recent studies2-3 have shown no correlation between incision type and breastfeeding ability. Perhaps plastic surgeons are more attentive to their surgical approach in light of lactation research.
In 2016, a study of 200 Argentina women2 found those with implants were able to establish breastfeeding at only a slightly lower rate than women without implants. However, when measured at 30 days, significantly fewer women with implants were breastfeeding than those without. With the proper education and resources, it is quite possible more of the women with implants would have been successful.
Will implants limit my milk flow?
Some women think implants themselves limit the milk flow from their breasts. This is usually not the case. Milk production is like a feedback loop, when you empty old milk, new milk is made. Therefore, emptying the milk makes your breast produce more milk. This is really important when you are establishing breastfeeding. You have to keep removing the milk in order to produce new milk. Eventually, when you wean your baby, your milk is gradually reabsorbed, slowing the loop and ultimately stopping the flow.
To determine if your baby is getting enough milk, it is important to monitor your baby’s growth. Taking your baby to scheduled visits with their pediatrician for weight checks is enough; you do not need to weigh your baby at home. You can also check if your baby is getting enough milk by monitoring how many wet and poopy diapers they produce. What goes in, must come out!
Is my breast milk safe?
Oftentimes, moms are concerned the solution in their implants may enter into the breast milk, causing possible harm to the baby. This was a hot topic in the 90s which led the industry to switch from silicone to saline implants, although silicone occurs naturally in our environment—it is even present in cow’s milk. To date, there is not enough evidence to suggest the risk of contamination is greater than the benefit of breastfeeding with implants. However, questions were raised about the presence of platinum in silicone and saline implants, which is a toxic metal. Be sure to discuss this with your obstetrician before you proceed with breastfeeding.
How can I tell if something is wrong?
Most new moms will experience engorgement (or very full breasts) after delivery. if you have implants, it is important to relieve this fullness by expressing milk or applying cold compresses. If it is not relieved, it can affect the milk cells, slow down the production of milk, and compress the ducts. Because the implants are already taking up space in the breast, this can create significant pressure on your breast tissue. It is important to make sure your breasts are emptied regularly through feeding or pumping, to keep them from being overfull.
Will breastfeeding affect my implants?
Many women think breastfeeding or pumping will damage the implant or change the aesthetics of their breasts. There is simply no evidence to support this. You should be able to breastfeed and pump without any risk of altering your augmentation.
Support is key to success
Most women with implants can successfully breastfeed if they are properly educated, plan ahead and have the right resources. At Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, we provide an array of services to set new moms on a positive path. And, the good news is, anyone is welcome—even if you don’t see a Texas Children’s obstetrician. We have a facility dedicated to nursing moms, called the Baby Bistro where we offer lactation consultants, support groups, weigh-ins, equipment rental, classes and even a milk bank. It is located within our Bella Luna Boutique, where you will find all the latest self-care items for mom and baby.
For more information on our resources, contact our staff directly at 832-826-8881. We would love to help you have a positive breastfeeding experience, even with implants.
- Hurst, NM. (1996). Lactation after augmentation mammoplasty. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 87(1), 30-34.
- Filiciani S, Siemienczuk GF, Nardin JM, Cappio B, Albertengo AC, Nozzi G,Caggioli M. (2016). Cohort study to assess the impact of breast implants on breastfeeding. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 138(6), 1152-1159.
- Cheng F, Dai S, Wang C, Zeng S, Chen J, Cen Y. (2018) Do breast implants influence breastfeeding? A meta-analysis of comparative studies. Journal of Human Lactation, 34(3) 424-432.