Breastfeeding after Breast Surgery

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Breastfeeding after breast surgery may be a challenge depending on the procedure and how the surgery has affected the glandular tissues of the breasts. Some of the factors that need to be remembered while considering breastfeeding after a breast surgery include:-

  • Place of the incision of the surgery. Women undergoing breast surgery may have two or three types of incisions. One is around the areola (periareolar) and another in under the breasts or the mammary fold (inframammary). Yet another incision is at the armpit (axillary incision).

  • Women who have had inframammary incisions are less likely to have problems making milk and breastfeeding compared to those with periareolar incision. A periareolar incision may cut into milk ducts and nerves that help in breast feeding.

  • Those who have had breast implants or breast augmentation surgeries usually breastfeed successfully.

  • Successful breastfeeding after surgery depends on the amount of glandular tissues and ducts that have been left unharmed during the surgery.

  • Partial breastfeeding or pumping may be possible in some women who are unable to naturally breastfeed for the initial 6 months of the baby’s life. This can provide more benefit compared to completely formula fed infants.

  • Like other mothers, mothers who have had a breast surgery need to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth of the baby. This helps milk come in earlier and allows the baby to get the colostrums. Help of a lactation consultant may be sought.

  • Positioning of the baby is important. A comfortable position for the mother and the baby, skin to skin contact and a good latch on ensures a satisfying, painless and comfortable breastfeeding.

  • Women who undergo breast surgery after establishment of breastfeeding may stop until their incision heals and continue. The baby should be offered the other breast to keep the milk coming in. If a formula top up is needed, it should be in addition to breast milk as much as possible.

  • Confidence, commitment and willingness to breastfeed can overcome the barriers of breast surgery for most mothers.

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 28, 2013

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