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Breastfeeding with implants

 
‘Would my breasts still function as well as before?’ A mom of 3 shares her experience of feeding after implants.
By Sally-Jane Cameron

Pic: Life Images Photography

Article originally in Parent24
I am a breastfeeding mom of 3. I breastfed my first two children before I had implants.

After my marriage ended I decided to have the surgery. I was not planning to have any more children but, being 31 the possibility of meeting someone else and having another child did exist. The doctor assured me if I had breastfed before I could again as it would not change the physiological functioning of the breasts.

As it turned out, I did meet someone and we now have a lovely baby boy. Before he arrived I tried to find information about breastfeeding and implants, I could find some theory but no personal experiences, so I am sharing mine.

The type of incision matters

There are a few different ways that implants can be inserted. Incisions under the fold of the breast, or through the armpit should not lead to any problems with breastfeeding. These types of incisions can leave more scarring, but if you plan to breastfeed then it is really worth putting up with a small scar.

If the implants are done with an incision around the nipple there is a chance that nerves may have been cut, which could lead to problems. Nerves are vital to breastfeeding as they tell the brain to release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin that affect milk production.

If you have had an incision around the nipple, it may still be possible to breastfeed, but you may need to top up with formula if your milk supply has been affected.

Bigger breasts are harder to breastfeed with

I had tiny breasts when I had my other two kids, even with breastfeeding they never got much bigger than a tiny B. Breastfeeding was easy. This time has been much harder. I have to worry more about position and he still finds it hard to get a good latch.

Get help if you need it

In the first few weeks we really struggled, I spent many a night sobbing on the bed dreading latching the baby again as it was so painful. I had lots of milk but we were just not getting it right. There was a sense of failure, I was supposed to know how to do this, after all I had breast fed each of my other kids for 2 years. In the end I got a lactation consultant to come and help us. I just had to hold my other kids in the crook of my arm and point them at the nipple, this time I need to position him and learn a whole new way to breastfeed that helps for a baby who battles to latch and for bigger breasts.

Every baby is different

One of the things that the lactation consultant said was that every baby is different and often the problem can be from their side. Each baby needs to learn how to latch and some find it harder than others. She said she has seen people with all shapes and sizes struggle and having an easy time the before did not guarantee it all going smoothly again.

Engorgement happens quicker

Implants under the muscle taking up some of the natural space, this means that when there has been a few hours between feeds or when you get a let-down reflex, the breast get hard more often and more quickly than without implants. This can make it harder for the baby to latch correctly as the nipple shape is affected but also the milk flows and squirts very fast due to the extra pressure.

Stretch marks!

I never got stretch marks on my breasts before, but this time I did. I think with the implants already stretching the skin and then the breasts growing with pregnancy and feeding the skin could not keep up.

I do not regret my implants and am glad that we have been able to breastfeed but it has been harder and needs a lot of perseverance.

Have you tried breastfeeding with implants? Were you successful?

Read more on: breastfeeding
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