Many women who have implants are concerned about their ability to Breastfeed. Here is what you need to know about implants and breastfeeding.
If your implants were inserted under the muscles of your chest you can expect to breastfeed successfully. The majority of women with implants inserted under the muscle have no trouble with implants and breastfeeding.
If your implants were inserted under your breast tissue on top of your chest muscles via incisions in the fold under your breasts or near your armpit, the milk ducts should not be affected and you should be able to breastfeed. Over fifty percent of women with implants inserted on top of the muscle thru the armpits or an incision under the breast have no trouble with implants and breastfeeding. Here is what the NIH says.
If you had incisions around your areola (nipple) then milk ducts and nerves have been severed. Until you try breastfeeding, you will not know if you can produce enough milk or if that milk can make it from the duct thru your nipple and to your baby. You may have trouble with implants and breastfeeding, but severed ducts and nerves often regenerate. You can tell if you have some colostrum getting thru by “milking” your breasts during the last month of your pregnancy to see if some fluid comes out. If you can express a little fluid, we suggest you give breastfeeding a try.
Do everything you can to get off to a good start. Nurse often starting the moment your baby is born. Keep a careful eye on your baby’s diaper output. You want to see five or six damp diapers a day. Remember that everyone produces colostrum for the first few days of baby’s life, so you won’t know until day three or four when your milk comes in whether or not you can get the milk to your baby.
Since the first few days of nursing can be nerve wracking - even for mothers who have not had breast augmentation – engage a lactation specialist early. Their experience with being able to tell if baby is getting enough milk will give you peace of mind and confidence.
Regardless of where your implants were inserted, there may be damage to some of your milk ducts. This does not mean that you can’t breastfeed, but it may mean that you need to breastfeed more often. Think of it this way, every milk duct is like a little container that produces and stores milk. If you have fewer containers, then your baby will get less milk during each feeding. This is perfectly fine as long as you nurse more often.
The rate at which your milk ducts work to supply more milk is based on demand. The more you nurse, the faster you will make milk. It is the same thing as an adult eating small meals several times a day instead of three large meals. At the end of the day, you get the same amount of nourishment with implants and breastfeeding.
If you are worried about supply, the other thing you can do is keep middle of the night feedings. Your body will produce the most Prolactin between 1am and 6am. For this reason, women normally produce more milk at night than during the day. Since you will be nursing in the middle of the night until your baby if three or four months old, a time when they can easily empty each of your breasts in five minutes, a middle of the night feeding is very easy.
When you wake up, to go to the bathroom first, then pick baby up, nurse lying down in your bed and then return baby to bed. No talking, no lights, just nurse and back to bed for both of you. Your baby will hardly even wake up. This is a great way to ensure you have no trouble with implants and breastfeeding.
If you have implants, you may need to make adjustments to your positioning so that you can get your baby hooked up properly. It is important that you are relaxed and comfortable while nursing. Use pillows and find the best positions to breastfeed in, ones that allow you to relax while your baby is nursing.
Many women with implants find it impossible to simply hold baby to nurse. Your breasts stick out too far and you will find you have to hunch over while you are holding your baby to get alignment. You don’t want to be hunched over or straining your back and arm muscles to keep baby in place.
The same way that implants make your breasts “perky”, they also make them less soft and therefore maneuverable. Since your breast is less flexible, you need to use pillows to help get baby aligned with your breast so you can relax.
For newborns, we recommend using a Brest Friend nursing pillow . Because Brest Friend pillows buckle on, you don’t have to worry about them sliding away from you while baby is nursing. The foam in a Brest Friend pillow provides a little table for your breasts to rest on and for your baby to lie on.
All of the women with implants that we have worked with report that their Brest Friend pillow provides perfect alignment for their baby, no hunching required!
Here’s a tip to ensure you have no trouble with implants and breastfeeding on the road: get two Brest Friend pillows and leave one in the car with the car seat so it is always available to you for nursing while you are out and about.
As you baby gets older you can start nursing in side-lying position. When baby is very young, it can be hard for them to hook up easily in side-lying position, especially if you have pear shaped implants. Once your baby has a little control over his or her head and good latch, it is much easier. Use pillows to support your back and tilt your shoulders to place your breast directly in front of your baby’s mouth.
Play with your position and your baby’s position until you find the ones that work best for you. Enjoy nursing; this special time with your baby is fleeting. Enjoy breastfeeding for as long as possible!