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The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding with Implants



If you have had breast enhancement surgery or are considering having it in the future, you might be wondering if it is safe to breastfeed with implants. Fortunately, the answer is yes. However, there are a few things to consider when it comes to nursing your baby with implants.


In this guide, we will discuss some factors that can affect your ability to breastfeed with implants and provide some tips to help you keep the milk flowing.


A Brief Background on Breast Anatomy

To understand how implants can impact breastfeeding, it is important to first understand how breasts make milk. Here is a a little anatomy lesson:


Female breasts have five main parts:

  • The nipple is part that protrudes and is usually located in the middle of the breast. It contains the openings of numerous milk ducts, which allow milk to flow out of the breast. The nipple also has a high concentration of nerve endings, which makes it the most sensitive part.

  • The areola is the circular area surrounding the nipple. Montgomery glands are found around the edge of the areola and secrete an oily substance that your baby is hardwired to smell. When your baby is first born, they find your breast by smelling that substance.

  • The fat and connective tissue give breasts softness and weight, but cannot produce milk.

  • The breast tissue is the only part that can potentially make milk. It is arranged in clusters or lobules and is mostly found underneath the areola.

  • Lobules contain different numbers of alveoli, where milk is made and stored. Alveoli have an inner layer of milk-making cells called lactocytes and an outer layer of tiny muscle cells that squeeze the milk out of the alveoli.

  • The alveoli all drain into a system of milk ducts which connect to the nipple.


Toward the end of pregnancy, hormones convert breast tissue into milk-making tissue. When breasts are able to make milk, it is called lactation. It may seem logical that larger breasts are able to make more milk than smaller breasts, but this isn’t necessarily true. Large breasts can sometimes be mostly fat, while smaller breasts may be mostly made of milk-making tissue.


Factors That Can Affect Breastfeeding if You Have Implants

Now that you know how the human breasts produce milk, let’s move on to the next big question: Do breast implants affect breastfeeding?


Generally, breast implants won't interfere with your ability to produce milk for your baby. But there are several factors to keep in mind if you are considering the procedure or have already had it.


Type and Location of Incisions

The type and location of the incisions the surgeon uses to perform the surgery can affect your ability to produce milk and breastfeed. The safest incisions are those made underneath the breast or through the armpit. These incisions are less likely to damage milk ducts. 

Sometimes a breast lift is performed with an implant, so an incision is also made around the nipple and from the nipple to the bottom of the breast. This is called a lollipop incision.

As long as the surgeon doesn't cut through your milk ducts or injure the nerves that provide sensation and blood flow to your nipples, your ability to produce milk and breastfeed should not be impacted. 


Implant Location

Most implants are placed under the pectoralis or chest muscle, so they sit underneath your whole breast. When placed here, they really just push your breast forward to make it look bigger. If implants are placed above the muscle, they can exert pressure on your milk ducts and alveoli and slow milk production.


Reason for Surgery

Women get breast implants for different reasons. Some do it for cosmetic reasons (i.e. to make their breasts bigger) and some do it for medical reasons (i.e. to replace the shape of their breasts after breast cancer). If implants are placed because of very small breast or tubular breasts, there may not have been enough breast tissue to begin with, so larger-looking breasts won’t make them produce more milk. Similarly, if all of the breast tissue has to be removed for breast cancer, it won’t be possible to produce milk. Usually simple lumpectomies don’t impact breast milk production, as long as the milk ducts are injured. 


5 Tips when Breastfeeding with Implants with a Low Supply

Breastfeeding with implants usually does not make it harder to breastfeed. However, if you don’t have enough breast tissue or seem to have a low supply, here are five ways to increase your milk supply:


Use a Breast Pump

Pumping after nursing or when you can’t nurse can be help a low supply in three ways:

  1. It helps you build up and store breast milk for later use.

  2. It helps ensure that you empty your breasts, signaling your body to produce more milk.

  3. Stored milk allows your partner and others to feed the baby.


Breastfeed Your Baby Regularly

Breastfeeding every two to three hours for 10 to 15 minutes on each breast can help empty your breasts, which cues your body to make more milk. As long as it feels good, it will also help your brain release prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that can help your breasts make more milk, improve your letdown, and strengthen your bond with your baby.


Ensure Proper Gape and Latch

Your baby should be able to get a deep latch so they can pull milk out efficiently. A deep latch should feel good and not be painful at all. 


The first step in proper latching is making sure your baby has a wide gape. The gape is when your baby unhinges their jaw so they are able to open their mouth so wide, they can form a seal around your areola. A wide gape is vital to breastfeeding. Your baby won’t be able to form a deep latch without it.


Adjust Your Diet

Certain foods, supplements, and medicines can improve breast milk production, while others interfere with it. If you are concerned about a low supply, adjust your diet accordingly.


To increase your milk supply, consider adding the following:

  • Oatmeal

  • Barley

  • Fenugreek seeds (avoid if you have a thyroid problem)

  • Galega (goat's rue)

  • Silymarin (milk thistle)

At the same time, avoid the following:

  • Alcohol

  • Nicotine

  • Over the counter medications, like pseudoephedrine and antihistamines.


Consult Your Doctor

If you still have trouble producing enough milk, speak to your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is it harder to breastfeed with implants?

Not necessarily. As long as the implants are placed beneath your pectoralis or chest muscle so they don't interfere with the connection between your breast tissue, milk ducts, and nipples, you can continue breastfeeding.


Can you breastfeed if you have implants?

Yes, you can. As long as you have enough breast tissue, you can make enough milk. Through proper latching, emptying your breasts regularly and fully, and adding certain foods and supplements to your diet, you can maximize your milk supply.


How do you successfully breastfeed with implants?

To successfully breastfeed with implants, make sure your baby latches onto your breasts properly. This will ensure that they're getting enough milk for their daily needs. If you have a low supply, follow our tips above.


Is breastfeeding more painful with implants?

No. As long as the procedure was performed correctly, you shouldn't have trouble breastfeeding with implants. If you experience any pain or discomfort while feeding your baby, check your baby’s latch and talk to your doctor.


Conclusion

Breastfeeding with implants doesn’t have to be challenging. As long as the procedure was done properly, and you are able to make enough milk, you can nurse your baby normally.


By reviewing the guide above, you can learn how breasts produce milk, how implants affect your ability to breastfeed, and how to keep your supply going even after surgery. 


Reviewed by Linda Dahl, MD


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