I'm not pregnant yet, but I want to have a family one day. When I was in high school I had to have a breast reduction due to issues with my back. I know that breast feeding is the best possible thing for babies and I really want to do it with my kids, but I know that my surgery presents issues for me. My surgeon said that I may be able to breast feed if I want to, but my milk production may be low. Has anyone successfully breast fed after a reduction? How can I increase milk production?
Is it possible to breatfeed after a breast reduction?
There are many women who do it! Check out this book. It's a great resource! Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery.
If your surgeon didn't mention concerns about your nipples then that probably isn't going to be a problem for you. Unfortunately there isn't really any way to know whether you have enough lactiferous tissue until you start feeding your baby.
There are a number of herbs and foods which can help increase milk production. Kellymom is a good resource.
All the best.
Hi there, I can completely relate as I have had reconstructive breast surgery due to a congenital abnormality and the surgery most closely resemlbes reduction surgery. I have also had breast surgery to remove growths that were deemed suspicious, because I had already had a malignant cancer experience earlier the same year. Not to mention that the congenital issue I had causes a sifgnificantly lower presence of milk-making tissue to begin with, so as you can see I had my obstalces laid out for me with breastfeeding :) I am happy to say that I have now breastfed my baby girl for 5 months, every single day since she was born :D It has been hard work- which I know it is for everyone, but I have 3 levels of extra challenges in the physical department, so I have had to work extra hard, and you probably will too. That doesn't mean it can't be done or that it won't be worth it...I am SO PROUD and THRILLED about my breastfeeding success with my daughter. It has meant so much to me to be able to provide that for both of us, for the benefits both physical and emotional. I decided before I even had her that I would nurse her to her heart's content even if I couldn't make/deliver milk, so that we could share the bonding experience and she could benefit from that security and attachment. The fact that I can now say I have been nursing her successfully for 5 months makes me beam with satisfaction! But it has come with the price of hard, hard work at times, and I have still had to supplement from the beginning and always will. Depending on your own situation, you may have to or you may not. The person who recommended the Diana West book is right on, it is VERY thorough and informative and is without a doubt the best resource out there for people in our situation. What I recommend above all is that you remember going in that you have some extra challenges to face- don't feel guilty about whatever your reality turns out to be; any amount of nursing (even nursing with no milk) is extremely beneficial to both you and baby, and something to be proud of and to celebrate.
Chances are, you will be able to make and deliver milk to some extent, and may even be able to meet all of your baby's needs, which would be wonderful! But don't be too hard on yourself if that is not the case. It took me the first two months of life with my baby to emotionally accept our situation of having to supplement (even though logistically I had accepted it from the beginning), and during those months I spent a lot of tears, stress, and frustration that could have been avoided if I could have iven myself more compassion and surrender around the issue of supplementation and what that meant about my nursing. Not that you shouldn't try your hardest- you should, and it sounds like you will, I certainly did and still do- right now my daughter has just begun teething and has become a fussy and sometimes resistant nurser again, sigh ;) - but if it turns out you need to supplement, make your peace with that and know that you are not "failing" your baby. I really had to struggle to get to that place, but I am there now. Also, and this is huge- you can look into Milk Sharing, so that if you do need to supplement, you do so with donated breastmilk from other mamas. That is what we have been doing for the past couple of months, and it is WONDERFUL! For the first 3 1/2 months of my daughter's life, we supplemented her with organic formula (Baby's Only), but at 3 1/2 months we moved her to a full breastmilk diet once I was able to wrap my head around milk sharing and get it organized. Look up "Human Milk 4 Human Babies" and "Eats on Feets" on Facebook, and visit Milkshare.com to get started. It is a truly beautiful way that women are helping other women and supporting the culture of breastfeeding while contributing to the growth and nourishment of healthy babies, and as a result of getting involved, our little one now thrives on milk from 4 different mommies including me! Best of luck to you...and if you're anything like me, you're probably just happy to know that there's a very good chance that you'll be able to breastfeed to at least some extent. It truly is a beautiful thing and I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Yes it is possible. I had a major reduction at the age of 13. This was in the late 90's, when it was a major surgery using nipple movement and everything. I did all of the breastfeeding essentials from day 1 with my daughter. She is now 18 months old, and I still make about 30 ounces a day.
You must begin correctly. No pacifiers, no formula, no water in the hospital. Nurse the baby as soon as possible after birth, like within 15 minutes. Nurse all day and night! Just kidding. But seriously, nurse on demand all the time. Exclusively. Even in the middle of the night. If you keep your supply up by nursing every hour or two, day and night, you will feed your baby all by yourself. I did just that, and the doctors and lactation consultants were astonished by it because I was almost destined to supplement. The amount of breast tissue removed will make it necessary to nurse the baby much more frequently and for longer time periods than other mothers. That is the hard part. I think the commitment to exclusively breastfeed is much harder for a breast reduced woman because she has to do it much more often, and much longer than the average mother to make the same amount of milk. For example, I had to nurse my daughter every .5 to 2 hours for at least 6 months, while my friends and family could often go 3-6 hours without nursing. You may experience multiple letdowns because the milk ducts empty so quickly.
At around the 3 and 4 month growth spurts, I also took fenugreek daily and pumped in between feedings to keep my supply going strong. I made about 40 ounces a day for at least 14 months. I also had my baby with me at work, so that may have made a difference because I could nurse her all day. I never made her wait to nurse until she was about 15 months old. She wanted to nurse about every 2 or 3 hours until then. She grew along her own growth curve, and during the early growth spurts, she gained up to 2 ounces a day!
Also, it was something that I didn't know at first, so I will share it with you, exclusively breastfed babies grow differently than the formula fed babies we grew up looking at on TV and in magazines. They can be slim looking and be just perfectly healthy. My daughter looks lean and slender for a baby, but she is taller than average, healthy and steadily gaining on her own growth curve, so if misinformed doctors/nurses/etc. try to tell you that you aren't making enough milk because your baby looks slim/slender/scrawny, take it with a grain of salt. Babies aren't supposed to look fat. Calf milk makes them look fat. Just look at their own personal growth curve, and if they are continuing to put on their personalized amount of weight steadily, and are hitting milestones and playing happily, and are content after eating, they are fine. Just try, that is all you can do.
Remember: Take fenugreek, pump between on-demand feedings day and night and don't let anybody get in the way of doing it just the way you want to, and it will all work out!