If you got breast implants earlier in your life and you’re now thinking of having a baby, you’re probably wondering how the implants might affect your ability to breastfeed your baby. Implants are a generally safe cosmetic procedure, and saline bags or silicone implants are usually inserted to increase breast size, sometimes dramatically. If you’ve gotten implants and hope to nurse your baby, the good news is that you still can. However, depending on your particular surgery, it might be slightly more difficult.

The ease with which you can breastfeed your baby will first depend on the type of incision used to augment your breast size. If your surgeon opened your breast tissue from the bottom or the side, there will be little interference. If your breast was cut beneath the areola, you might have vastly decreased sensitivity in your nipples, and breastfeeding will be difficult.

If you’ve had any type of enlargement, you might experience increased pain when your breasts fill with milk after delivery. Generally, a woman’s breast size will drastically increase after birth, so yours will be even more stretched past their normal bounds. This extra stretching could cause you more pain than if you hadn’t gotten your implants.

You really won’t be able to tell whether or not you’ll be able to nurse after breast implants until you’ve had your baby. After delivery, your breasts will change, so even if you feel ready a week before birth you might change your mind once your baby is born. However, if you have very little or no feeling in your nipples any time after your surgery, there is a very good chance you won’t be able to breastfeed at all. To activate the proper glands, your breasts need signals from your baby’s suckling mouth.

Research shows that 75% of women can still successfully breastfeed after they’ve gotten breast implants. Thought, of that percentage, 19% will need to supplement their baby’s nutrition with a formula before he or she is ready to stop nursing. If you know that you’d like to have a baby and breastfeed it one day, it would be wise to hold off on implants until you’ve had your baby and nursed him or her. It’s impossible to predict the changes your breasts will go through during pregnancy. However, if you’ve gotten implants and would like to breastfeed, there’s a good chance you’ll have the option.

Source: Norma Cruz et al: Breastfeeding After Augmentation Mammoplasty with Saline Implants. Annals of Plastic Surgery Volume 64 Issue 5 pp. 530-533 May 2010

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