Mother breastfeeding with implants

Everything you need to know about breastfeeding with implants

If you’ve undergone a breast augmentation, you may be wondering if the surgery will affect your ability to breastfeed. Is it possible to breastfeed with implants? Will implants have an impact on your milk production? Is it safe? You’ve got questions—and we’ve got answers! Here’s your go-to guide on common concerns, potential risks and helpful tips for breastfeeding with implants.

Can you breastfeed with implants?

Yes! Most women are able to breastfeed after breast augmentation surgery. Whether you’re able to do so (and how much milk you’ll produce) will depend on whether the surgery affected the milk ducts and nerves in your breasts, as well as the state of your original breast tissue.

The most common method for breast augmentation surgery involves making an incision in the fold below the breast and placing implants below the muscle, a technique that allows ducts to remain intact and connected to the nipple. Incisions in the armpit or around the areola and nipple can cause a hit to milk production though, depending on any effects on your ducts, nerves and blood supply. But even if your milk ducts or nerves were affected during surgery, it’s possible for them to become functional again over time. Talk to your doctor about the details of your surgery to get a better sense of whether you’ll be able to breastfeed and whether your milk production could be affected.

Prior to surgery, some women may have mammary hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue. This condition can cause breasts to look tubular, wide-set or uneven, which can lead women to choose breast augmentation or reconstructive surgery in the first place. Because insufficient glandular tissue can cause low milk production, it may be the primary reason moms who’ve had surgery need to supplement.

Is it safe to breastfeed with implants?

While there’s limited research on the topic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states there are no recent reports of health issues for babies of mothers with silicone breast implants. Research has found levels of silicon, a component of silicone, were not any higher in women with implants than those without implants. In fact, there’s more silicon found in cows’ milk and infant formula than in breast milk!

A 2001 policy statement published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) indicates there is also no evidence that the polymer in silicone breast implants is directly toxic to human tissues. The AAP statement concludes by saying the Committee on Drugs feels scientific evidence does not justify classifying silicone implants as a contraindication for breastfeeding. Newer saline (saltwater-filled) implants are also not a concern.

How does breastfeeding work with implants?

The actual mechanics of breastfeeding are the same—with or without implants. If moms who have breast implants experience low milk production, they may have to pump to boost supply or supplement with donor breast milk or formula. Understanding the details of your surgery and working closely with an IBCLC will be helpful, but you often won’t know how breastfeeding will go until you try it. (But hey, isn’t that pretty much the case for any new mom?)

Are there risks when breastfeeding with implants?

Of course, there are the general risks, such as pain, changes in sensation and rupture, that any woman with breast implants faces. But breastfeeding moms with implants should be especially careful to avoid mastitis because any infection can increase the chances of capsular contracture, a condition in which the scar tissue surrounding the implant hardens. This can be very painful and, in some cases, require surgery to remove the implants.

What can I do to maximize my breastfeeding success?

As we’ve mentioned, talk to your doctor to educate yourself on the specifics of your surgery and any potential challenges. Just like any breastfeeding mom, make sure your baby has a good latch and nurse or pump often to establish a strong supply. Take good care of yourself with plenty of healthy foods, water, rest and self-care. Because of the possibility of reduced milk production, your pediatrician will want to monitor your baby’s growth closely. Be open to supplementing if needed, and work with an IBCLC to boost your supply and/or find the right mix of breastfeeding and supplementing.

If you have questions about breastfeeding or would like to connect with an IBCLC, reach out to our team at Ashland Women’s Health. We’re here to support you during every step of your breastfeeding journey.