Implants and breastfeeding

Implants and breastfeeding
March 02 08:16 2017

The number of women fitted with breast implants is increasing every day, it does not matter the reason for the implants, be it for medical reasons or cosmetic reasons, the question that most women who have implants ask is: Can I breastfeed with implants? The question is even more frequent among women who are pregnant and expecting a baby. The answer is YES you may be able to breastfeed your baby even if you have been fitted with implants, however there may be some challenges and issues that you should know about. We will discuss all this just below.

Breastfeeding with implants depends on a number of variables, things like the position of the implants, the type of implants and the incision made during the surgery procedure play a big role in your ability to breastfeed in the event that you have a baby. Some people worry that the compounds found in the breast implants may interfere with the milk and affect the baby but you should know that there are implants filled with just saline water and are perfect for women who desire to breastfeed in the future as they do not pose any harm to the baby. Some implants contain a substance called silicone, many healthcare providers discourage breastfeeding with silicone implants but that remains a topic of discussion.


What problems can you face breastfeeding with implants?

As mentioned above, your ability to breastfeed depends on a number of factors. The condition of your breast after the surgery plays an important part in determining if you will be able to breast feed or not. After surgery your nerves, milk ducts and milk glands are assessed for any possible damage that could have happened during the surgery. When you have injured nerves, your nipples loose sensitivity and as such the milk production processes is not properly stimulated when the baby is nursing leading to problem with milk let down.

Damaged milk ducts reduce the availability of milk in the breast. These milk ducts can be physically damaged during the incision and fitting of the implants or they may be compressed by the implants themselves. When milk ducts are compressed they become blocked and cause the milk to back flow back into the breast. In such cases you will notice swollen breasts that are very sensitive.


 How does breast implant surgery affect your ability to breast feed?


1. The surgery incision

During the breast implant surgery, an incision is made on the breast. The type and position of the incision will determine your ability to breastfeed after the surgery. An incision made around or across the dark part of your breast around the nipple can damage your nerves as that is the area with the most nerve concentration on your breasts. To avoid such damage, other incisions can be made, for example an incision under the breast is a good alternative. Another good alternative is incision in the armpit for each breast implant. Other surgeons make the incision in the belly button and insert the implant from there.


2. Implant placement

Where the implant is placed within the breast can affect your ability to breast feed. Generally, the implants are placed somewhere in between the pectoral muscle and the breast tissue. To prevent damage to the milk ducts and glands, surgeons now place the implants right below the chest muscle, in this position the silicon from the implant will not come into contact with the milk and the implant has less chances of compressing and blocking the milk ducts.

Another safe place to fit the implant is within the fatty tissue just below the breast tissue. In this position, the breast tissue is somehow protected from potential damage.


Breastfeeding with implants

In the event that you have a baby and are breast feeding with implants, you need to make sure that your baby is actually getting enough milk from your breasts and take measures to ensure that enough milk is produced.


Is your baby getting enough milk during breast feeding?

The only way to find out if your baby is having enough milk from your breast is to monitor their weight growth and diaper activity. Everything normal, your baby is supposed to be gaining weight weekly and getting wet diaper around 8 times a day, with about 4 to 5 bowel movement. If you have concerns, you can consult your doctor and they will help you check if your baby is getting enough breast milk.


What should you do in the event that the baby is not getting enough milk?

In the event that the baby is not getting enough milk, you should look to increase the milk production and supply from your breast. To increase breast milk supply you can use a breast pump during or after feeding. A breast pump can help the breast produce more milk, and pump out as much of the milk that is available in the breast as possible.

Some breast massaging can also help increase the stimulus needed for the breast to produce more milk.

Always make sure your baby is feeding at least 8 to 12 times a day directly from your breast. Each feed should empty both breasts completely. You can consult your doctor for other ways by which you can improve breast milk supply.


When should you be worried?

Of you want to breast feed with implants you should pay attention to the following situations and talk to your doctor if any of them arises:

  • You still have not produced milk 5 days after giving birth
  • Your new baby is producing less than 6 wet diapers a day
  • Your new baby is producing less than 3 bowel movements a day
  • Your have nipple pain during breastfeeding
  • Your baby is not gaining their weekly weight


Remember to always contact your doctor whenever you feel like there is a problem with the implants, particularly when you are breast feeding. Any pain or sensitivity during breast feeding should be investigated.


Related: Breasfeeding tracker tool


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