Breastfeeding with Implants
With over half-a-million women worldwide receiving breast implants each year, the question of breastfeeding after surgery is a pertinent one. While the reasons behind seeking augmentation may differ from correcting deformities to responding to treatment after breast cancer, the most common motive continues to be for cosmetic purposes. With that said, when women who have undergone this procedure fall pregnant and start to prepare for the birth of their babies, they can experience anxiety about breastfeeding.
Giving Baby the Best Start
“Approximately 80% of women who receive breast implants are under the age of 30, and so it stands to reason that there is a heightened concern about breastfeeding after cosmetic implants and whether it is safe for babies. The good news is that it is absolutely possible to breastfeed after surgery. Most women have at least some milk, and it is important to bear in mind that any breast milk that can be given to baby is incredibly important, boosting their immune system, brain and gut development,” explains Dr Rayne of the Netcare Breast Care Centre.
“It is also important to remember that there are ways of increasing milk supply if it is initially low, and a midwife or lactation consultant can assist in this regard. A good technique is for moms to start breastfeeding their newborns as early and as often as possible. Putting baby to the breast every two hours and then using a breast pump after each feed is advisable to build-up milk supply,” says Dr Rayne.
Single and twin electronic breast pumps currently on the market help moms express milk quickly, naturally and effectively meaning that increasing milk supply needn’t be an inconvenience. Some manual breast pumps available are as effective as hospital-grade electronic pumps and can also assist moms to stimulate milk flow gently and swiftly, ensuring baby gets enough milk right from the start.
The Science Behind Implants and Breastfeeding
According to Dr Rayne, it’s important to bear in mind that breast feeding does depend on adequate breast milk tissue. “Women who have had small breasts (often before augmentation) may worry that they would not have ‘enough breast’ to breastfeed, but studies have shown that actually size of breast is not related in any way to ability to breastfeed. In the case of a breast deformity corrected by implants, such as tuberous breasts or absent breasts (amazia), there is more of a chance that there may be difficulties. This is also true if breast tissue has been removed due to cancer or breast reduction.”
“However, the method used to place the implant, including the type of incision, can make a difference. In comparisons between women with and without implants, those who had had an incision around the nipple, as opposed to beneath the breast in the inframammary fold or armpit, were more likely to experience problems with breastfeeding. This is because the ducts which move milk from the milk tissue to the nipple may have been cut, or the area is scarred. In addition, the nerve that gives feedback to the breast to make milk may be damaged, particularly if the cut is in the lower, outer quadrant of the areola,” adds Dr Rayne.
Although moms will not know how good their milk supply will be, if sensation is felt in the nipple, the chances are higher that they will have a more complete supply.
“Breast implants are placed behind the muscle in most types of implant procedures, which may exert less pressure on the breast than an implant behind the breast tissue alone, and this may also affect supply. Moms-to-be who have had implants should talk to their doctor and discuss methods to ensure the best possible supply,” advises Dr Rayne.
Is It Safe for Baby?
Studies show that there is no risk of silicone from implants being leaked into breast milk. In most procedures the implant is placed behind the chest wall muscle and far away from the breast glandular tissue. Even when the implant is in contact with the breast glandular tissue, there is no reported risk, even when the implant has ruptured.
Furthermore, when the rates of silicon in milk were compared between women with and without implants, studies revealed equal amounts were found in both, as part of the normal make-up of human milk. In fact, ten times less silicone was found than that which can be found in cow’s milk or infant formula. This confirms that there really is no documented danger.
Breast is Best
“Breastfeeding is indeed harder for women who have had breast augmentation or implant surgery. This may be due to the implants or the types of surgery carried out. While it may seem difficult because there may be less milk, with help and advice from specialists in breastfeeding it is most often possible and a very rewarding experience,” concludes Dr Rayne.
The Philips AVENT Manual Breast Pump allows a mom to gently, quickly and naturally express her breastmilk. The manual breast pump has not only been clinically proven to be as effective as a hospital-grade electric pump – it was rated significantly more comfortable and pleasant to use. Read the independent clinical study.
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About Fountain Medical
Fountain Medical is a South African company that has provided practical and convenient solutions to pregnant couples and new parents for 30 years. Fountain Medical is committed to making a real and positive difference to the quality of the lives of babies and parents by offering brands and product ranges from feeding to health, safety and sleeping products. All products are of the best quality and feeding products are BPA-free. Fountain Medical imports and distributes high quality brands from the innovative advantages of Philips AVENT, to the clever solutions offered by Clevamama, the useful travel range of accessories for kids from Benbat, as well as the practicality of BabyBjörn and DiaperChamp. In addition, Fountain Medical is now the distributor of the Ella’s Kitchen organic baby and toddler range. For more information visit http://www.babies.co.za.