Can you breastfeed with implants?

Oct 5, 2009 at 1:43 p.m. ET

A tweet of someone I follow on Twitter caught my attention. Women are being told bigger breasts are better, but what about risks with breastfeeding?

breastfeeding a baby

I admit that even I, a longtime breast-feeder, wasn't sure if a woman could nurse her baby if she had breast implants. Pregnancy & Baby at SheKnows.com recently discussed this very topic. Breast implants do not interfere with breastfeeding for many mums, but there are risks that she should be aware of prior to surgery.

Know the risks

There can be potential damage to milk-making tissue, milk ducts and nerves in the breasts. The placement of the incision is very important. The most common procedure includes an incision that can decrease a woman's ability to breastfeed. The incision should be made under the breast, for optimal breastfeeding, and not around the areola.

A real mum speaks up

Tatiana, who blogs at A Very Good Year, considered breast implants when she was bartending years ago.

"My husband talked with me about it quite a bit, and his opinion is this: 'Big breasts are better than small ones, but small natural breasts are better than big fake ones.' His constant support of my appearance and build made me confident, although in the back of my mind, I still considered implants."

When she found out she was pregnant, Tatiana had a change of heart.

"Now, as a nursing mother, there are times I stand in front of the mirror and look at my stretch-marked breasts, which are larger than they used to be but also less firm. I've never been prouder of them."

"Yeah, they may not be huge and perky and in your face, but now I can't even consider implants. What if I had them and they impacted my ability to breastfeed my daughter? I'd have traded my vanity for her health."

"I think that when researching breast implants, their possible impact on breastfeeding should be mentioned. I was upset while watching a program on television about breast augmentation -- they mentioned two possible risks, scar tissue and deflation, but didn't make any mention of how the location of the incision for implants can have a negative effect on milk production in a nursing mother."

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