Is Breastfeeding With Implants Safe For My Baby?
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In this post, you’ll find tips for increasing your milk supply and the answer to the burning question – is breastfeeding with implants safe for my baby?
In This Guide
- How Can Breast Implants Affect Milk Production And Feeding?
- Can I Breastfeed With Implants?
- Is It Safe To Breastfeed With Implants?
- Tips for Breastfeeding with Implants
If you’re one of the more than 300,000 American women who have breast augmentation every year, you might wonder whether or not you’ll be able to breastfeed.
While some research has found that women with breast implants are more likely to have problems breastfeeding than those who haven’t had the surgery, the odds are in your favor — though you might face some additional challenges.
Most women with breast implants are able to breastfeed, though there are a few exceptions. Whether you’re able to breastfeed depends on the original state of your breasts before surgery and possibly the type of incision used.
Let’s take a look at how breast implants can affect breastfeeding and if breastfeeding with implants is safe for your baby.
How Can Breast Implants Affect Milk Production And Feeding?
Breast implants can reduce a mother’s milk supply. There are several factors which can affect the amount of milk you produce when you have breast implants. These include:
1 Location of the Incision
Where the incision was made to insert the implant will determine the degree of damage to milk glands, ducts, nerves or blood supply. If an incision was made around the edge of the nipple and areola, then it’s likely nerves were cut making breastfeeding more difficult (source).
When a baby suckles on the breast, the sensation increases the levels of hormones that are important to milk production (source). When these nerves are damaged, you might not have enough sensation in this area to signal the brain to deliver these hormones.
If the nipple area has been cut for an implant, the amount of milk baby can get might be reduced or be unable to get through at all due to scarring (source).
2 Position of the Implant
Where the implant is placed and the size of the implant will affect the pressure within the breast. The glandular tissue in the breast which produces milk is located above a layer of muscle. The larger the implant, the more impact it might have.
The breast is composed of glandular (milk making) tissue above a layer of muscle. An implant placed between the muscle layer and the glandular tissue can exert more pressure on the milk-producing glands which can lead to a decrease in the amount of milk produced and the ease with which it can flow.
Conversely, when the implant is placed beneath the muscle layer this is said to have less impact on milk production (source).
3 The Effects Of Scar Tissue
Following a breast implantation, scar tissue may cause firmness in the breast, distortion, and pain and can extend into milk ducts and affect the milk supply (source).
If milk can’t drain freely from the breast, women with implants may be more prone to excessive engorgement, plugged ducts or even a painful breast infection, called mastitis (source).
4 Lack Of Functional Breast Tissue
Sometimes, when a woman chooses to get implants because her breast hasn’t developed naturally, there may be an underlying absence of functional breast tissue.
In such a situation, it’s possible that these types of breasts can have less glandular tissue and breastfeeding difficulties could be related to this rather than the breast implant surgery directly. Implants can reduce the efficiency of this tissue even more which will cause a low milk supply (source).
Following breast implant surgery, some women experience painful and extremely sensitive breasts even to normal touch. This can make breastfeeding extremely difficult.
Others may experience chronic numbness in the nipple area which could interfere with the signaling to the brain to release milk-inducing hormones that’s needed for milk production (source).
6 Milk Production When Not Breastfeeding
Occasionally a mother with breast implants may have milk production unrelated to breastfeeding.
A milk-filled cyst (galactocele) could form, or milky discharge from the breast (galactorrhea) can happen (source). This is usually linked to postoperative congestion around the implant which often requires removal of the implants (source).
Can I Breastfeed With Implants?
Yes, it is possible to breastfeed with implants but breast implants can affect a mother’s capacity to produce a full milk supply.
There are factors which can affect the amount of milk you will produce and whether a mother will have a full or only a partial milk supply depends on:
- The type of surgery
- If you have any scarring
- How much functional glandular tissue you have
That being said, just as with any other mom, breastfeeding success also depends on having the correct information about good latch, the use of correct positioning and breastfeeding management.
There are also things you can do to increase the amount of breast milk you produce. Breastfeeding frequently during the first few weeks is very important. The more milk your baby demands, the more milk your breasts should produce.
A lactation specialist can advise you and give you guidance on how to support and increase your milk supply from the time baby arrives, and help you manage any pain you might have.bs to be effective, there’s a lack of scientific evidence to back it up (source). As always, if you’re pregnant, do check with your doctor before taking any herbs, as not all are suitable pre-birth.
Even if you have a reduced amount of breastmilk, you can still breastfeed. You might need to supplement with formula from bottles to ensure the baby is getting all the food they need to thrive and grow. Be sure to keep in close contact with your baby’s pediatrician and your lactation consultant to be sure all is going well.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed With Implants?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source, there haven’t been any recent clinical reports of problems in babies of mothers with silicone implants (source).
Worried about whether silicon from your implants can pass to your baby in your breast milk? Although there are no methods for accurately detecting silicone levels in breast milk, a study from 2007 that indicated silicon levels of milk didn’t find higher levels in breast milk in mothers with silicone implants compared to those without. In fact, there was more silicon found in formula milk and cow’s milk than breast milk from women with implants (source).
Breast implants do pose some risks to the mom, though, such as:
- Possibility of needing additional surgeries for corrections or removal
- Changes in breast and nipple sensation
- Breast pain
- Rupture of implants
There are things you can do to help increase your milk production and help your baby get all the nourishment they need. Here are some tips for breastfeeding with implants:
1 Breastfeed Often
If you’re not breastfeeding your baby often enough, your milk supply will reduce to match. Your newborn should be nursing 8-12 times per day for about the first month (source).
Frequent nursing stimulates the body to produce more, so feed your baby whenever they seem hungry. You should also offer them both breasts at each feeding. Try to compress your breast during feeding so you can drain the milk until they’re satisfied.
Even if you’re only able to produce a small amount of milk, you’re still providing your baby with antibodies and nutrition at each feeding.
2 Check the Latch
A proper latch can help your baby get the most out of feedings. If your baby is struggling with proper latching, your body will not get the signal to produce more milk.
Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well. Your nipple should be far enough into your baby’s mouth so their gums and tongue cover an inch or two of your areola. Holding your breast just behind the areola with your thumb and forefinger in a “C” position can make it easier for your baby to latch on.
3 Supplement with Formula
If you’re producing small amounts of milk, speak to your baby’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant about supplementing your breastfeeding with formula.
The best way to tell that you have enough supply is to check whether your baby is gaining enough weight. While most infants lose weight immediately after birth, full-term babies should lose no more than 7 percent of their birth weight in the first few days after birth (source).
Research has also shown that temporary weight loss in newborn infants immediately after birth might lead moms to think they’re not producing enough milk and start supplementing right away, leading to a potential issue with breast milk supply and demand.
It is possible to successfully breastfeed even if you can’t provide a full milk supply by supplementing in ways that are supportive of breastfeeding such as using an at-breast supplementer device or bottles.
Another way that you might increase your breast milk is with the use of herbs known as “galactagogues.” These include fennel, fenugreek, and milk thistle, among others (you should always check with your doctor before taking any herbs). Certain foods are thought to have “lactogenic” properties, too, including oatmeal, almonds, dried apricots and more.
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS?
Most women are able to breastfeed with implants, but some factors could affect the amount of breast milk you produce.
The good news is that you can often increase your breast milk with good breastfeeding management. A lactation specialist can help and advice you through your struggles.
Of course, even if you have trouble building up a milk supply after breast surgery, you can still breastfeed if you choose to. You can provide as much breast milk as you can through breastfeeding, then give your child the additional nutrition she needs by supplementing with infant formula.
Any amount of breast milk that you can give your child is beneficial, plus breastfeeding also provides comfort and security.
But if you discover that you can’t breastfeed, don’t worry. Formula will give your baby all the nutrients they need and you’ll still be able to feel the closeness and bonding by feeding skin-on-skin and lots of snuggles.