Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery

As you enter motherhood, you may wonder how your body will react to carrying and nourishing a new life. Women who have had breast reduction surgery are often concerned about their ability to breastfeed. Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is possible for many new moms but it is impossible to know if you will be successful until you give it a go.

Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery:

Breast reduction surgery is medically known as reduction mammaplasty and is the surgical procedure for removing excess fat, tissue and skin from the breast to create a bust size more proportionate to a woman’s body. The procedure may sever some or all of a woman’s milk-producing ducts and glands as well as damage nerves in the breasts, which is why breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is questionable.

Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction SurgeryUsually, if there is feeling in the nipple and the nipple and areola are still attached to the breast tissue beneath them, some amount of breastfeeding is possible. It’s when the nipple is removed and reattached to a reconstructed breast when breastfeeding is unlikely. Beyond the need for milk ducts and glands to flow towards the nipple, nerves in the breast are required for stimulating prolactin and oxytocin, the hormones responsible for lactation. While many new moms never feel their let downs, stimulation of the nipple is necessary for them to occur and allow the free flow of milk to the nipple.

If you’ve had breast reduction surgery in the past, you’ll have to wait and see if you are able to breastfeed once your baby arrives. It’s wise to prepare as if breastfeeding will be possible by reading about it, taking a class and buying supplies that will make nursing more comfortable for you.

Let your doctor and pediatrician know about your breast reduction surgery so they are best able to help you navigate breastfeeding. You may need extra support from a lactation consultant and you’ll want to be extremely vigilant that your baby is getting enough milk for proper growth. Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery may result in a low milk supply that may not be adequate for your baby. Remember, even if exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, small amounts of breast milk will provide your baby with vital antibodies to help her remain healthy in early infancy.

If you are considering breast reduction surgery before you’ve had children, most experts agree you should try to wait until after breastfeeding to have this or any other surgical procedures on your breasts. However, sometimes breast surgery is medically necessary prior to having children, in which case you should discuss your desire to have a baby and breastfeed with your surgeon. There are no guarantees breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery is possible, but your surgeon can make every effort to try to leave milk ducts and breast nerves in tact. Also, it is believed that women who have had their breast surgeries more than five years before having children are more likely to successfully breastfeed.

Sources: La Leche League, Baby Center and Cleveland Clinic