Breast reduction surgery and breastfeeding: 16 ideas to achieve it

Breast reduction surgery and breastfeeding: 16 ideas to achieve it

Women who have had a breast reduction surgery may have difficulties establishing breastfeeding. In this blog post, we will give some ideas on how to achieve breastfeeding if this is your case.

How does a breast reduction surgery affect breast function?

Breast reductions are complex surgeries for the mammary gland because apart from eliminating fat, breast tissue is also removed, and the ducts are cut. The incisions made in the areola cause the division of the mammary nerves that are responsible for regulating and determining supply and demand. The affected ducts tend to seek the light of the nipple, and often, colostrum can be seen forming on the nipple during pregnancy, but this is not enough to guarantee exclusive breastfeeding.

16 ideas for successful breastfeeding after a breast reduction

When starting breastfeeding, caution is necessary. Here are some ideas on how to better cope with the situation:

  1. For every woman, but especially if you had a breast reduction, it’s a good idea to attend a breastfeeding support group during pregnancy to prepare yourself and learn more about the technical aspects of breastfeeding.
  2. Pay attention to how your breasts change during pregnancy: are they more sensitive? Is there colostrum? Do your breasts increase in size?
  3. From week 34-36 of pregnancy, you can consider colostrum harvesting before birth.
  4. Buy, rent or borrow a breast pump, if possible a double electric one, as they are more efficient.
  5. Get a supplemental nursing system (SNS) or make your own: all you need is a baby bottle and a pediatric nasogastric tube.
  6. All formula milks are similar because their ingredients are regulated by law, but their price is different, so look for one that suits you best. If, once breastfeeding has started, you need to start mixed feeding, always buy first infant milk (number 1) for the first year of life.
  7. If you can afford it, contact an IBCLC (Internation Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who can see you during the first few days and review how everything is going.
  8. If you can’t afford such a service, or it is unavailable in your area, prepare and learn about what is normal and what is not during the first days of your baby’s life to detect any problems early.
  9. Demand a respected birth. The more respectful your birth, the more a good start to breastfeeding can be assured. Make a good birth plan to make this happen.
  10. Start breastfeeding right after giving birth, place your baby to latch on your breast immediately after the birth, and don’t allow anyone to separate you.
  11. Limit visitors to a minimum; allow yourself to bond with your baby undisturbed.
  12. During the first days, leave your baby skin-to-skin on your breast and encourage your little one to breastfeed often. This is important because there is a theory that explains the importance of these first breastfeeds in creating prolactin receptors in the breasts: the more receptors there are, the more breast milk supply there will be.
  13. Avoid the use of pacifiers or any sucking other than at the breast so there is no interference with breastfeeding.
  14. If your baby starts to regain weight without any supplementing with formula from the 5th day onwards, congratulations! This means you are on the right track. If they don’t gain weight after the 5th day of life or have lost too much weight (more than 10%) before the 5th day of life, it’s time to start supplementing with your expressed breast milk or, if this is not possible, to start mixed feeding. Get advice from your pediatrician.
  15. If you need to give formula, choose the best feeding method for you. If it is a bottle, apply the paced bottle-feeding method. This will prevent your baby from getting too much milk too quickly and help them not lose interest in breastfeeding.
  16. Use a supplemental nursing system (if you want to try mixed feeding) for as many feeds as possible so your baby does not lose interest in suckling at the breast.

Every breastfeeding journey is different, and so it is with every case of breast reduction. Each mother must consider her options, resources, desires, and, most importantly, her baby. All paths can be good, and although breast reductions can make breastfeeding difficult, nobody can predict how it will turn out for you in the end. We know of successful cases of breastfeeding with breast reductions and anything is possible. Therefore, if this is your case, we wish you all the best and encourage you to try. And if you need more support, the LactApp team is here to help. You can talk to our experts in the consultation channel in the LactApp App, which you can download for free for Android and iPhone.

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