Like many others, I’ve been under the assumption that breast implants impeded the ability to breastfeed. My mother took this into account when she got her implants in the 1980s, after my little brother had moved on to solid food.
Thanks to a lot of scientific improvements since then, and with informative guidance in a recent article by What to Expect(R), I learned that yes, it’s still possible to nourish a newborn with your own breasts, even after augmentation.
The ability to do so will rest on a couple of considerations.
First, location, location, location. As in real estate, so it goes with surgical incisions. Periareolar incisions are made near the areolae. If your incision cut is across the nipple, there is the likelihood that the milk ducts were cut and scarred, which can impede the flow of milk. But if the implant was inserted through an in the armpit or in the inframammary fold, not only should the nerves to the nipple likely still be intact, milk should flow as well.
The location of the incision is not the only important aspect of breast feeding after an augmentation, but also the placement of the implants themselves is a factor in the ability to feed. Surgeons recommend this based on your anatomy. If the implants are placed underneath the pectoral muscle, they are less likely to interfere with breastfeeding.
Another consideration is the overall reason for getting implants in the first place. If the procedure was used simply to increase a small bust line, then there will likely not be an issue that concerns breastfeeding. But if the augmentation was designed to enhance breasts that developed too far apart, asymmetrically, or the tissue never developed at all, then breastfeeding may not be an option due to some more substantive issues of glandular development.
Perhaps the easiest way to self-evaluate your ability to breastfeed: do you have feeling in your nipples? If the nerves were cut during the surgery, the chances of lactation are diminished.
We know that expectant mothers are HIGHLY cautioned against ANY toxic exposure during pregnancy (from mercury from fish, nitrates in sandwich meat, scary stuff from hair dye), but if you’re worried about the silicone that could be in your implant, rest assured. According to What to Expect: “In the unlikely event that your breast implants contain silicon, there’s no risk to your baby if you breastfeed. In fact, cow’s milk and formula actually contain more of the element silicon than breast milk from moms with implants.” Now we know!
As stressful as this time can be, remember, many women have issues in this area, regardless of breast augmentation. If you have implants and hope to nurse your newborn, give these four considerations thought and reach out to Dr. Paige Holt and a good lactation consultant to discuss.