Breastfeeding after breast reduction

So, you’ve had some work done? Cool. Now you wanna feed your baby from your breasts, but you aren’t really sure how its all gonna work. Surprise! Breastfeeding after a breast reduction surgery is possible, if you want it to happen.

That’s not to say that it will be easy.

Let’s be totally clear here, breastfeeding, in general, is never “easy”. Choosing to breastfeed your baby requires dedication, patience and a fabulous support system. Our Houston Infant Feeding Specialists love supporting our clients whatever their journey may be. When we come alongside your qualified and experienced IBCLC, your success rate increases. 

This is the first blog in a short series about the challenges surrounding feeding our babies. 

The type of surgery matters

Let’s be frank, this type of breast surgery has the biggest potential to impact your breastfeeding journey. The most important factor in determining if your milk will be a full supply or a partial supply is how the surgery was done. One should always consult with the surgeon that performed the procedure to determine the technique that was used.

Inferior Pedicle (McKissock, Robbins, or Moufarrege)

This technique is known for preserving the nerves that are found below the nipple. This is fantastic because that nipple sensation is an important factor in triggering the milk ejection reflex(MER). The body receives the information that the milk is being suckled, and ejects the milk for the baby to eat. 

Superior Pedicle (Lejour, Lassas) 

This technique severs the nerves below the nipple that enhance sensation and MER. If those nerves are detached, there is no sensation ( or limited sensation) and the body is not receiving the correct input to eject the milk. Your breasts can make milk, but if the MER is inhibited, your body will not do the work of emptying the breasts fully to maintain an adequate supply for your baby. This technique has been proven to decrease milk production. 

Expected challenges

Oxytocin and Prolactin are powerful hormones, and they only affect lactation, NOT nerve regeneration. Your milk WILL come in regardless of breast reduction surgery unless there are other factors at play (Thyroid issues, IGT, PCOS, other syndromes or disorders). You may experience engorgement post-birth just like any other lactating person. However, you may experience it the following ways-

  • one area of the breast is more engorged, and another area remains soft
  • you have more engorgement on one breast than on the other
  • your discomfort with engorgement is likely to increase each time you have a baby

You can expect that your breast size will change during pregnancy, but they will also most likely return to their pre-pregnancy size. In some cases, its also entirely possible for the body to regenerate nerve endings. So, with your first baby post-reduction, you may have a lower supply than any subsequent babies. Typically neural pathways can regenerate in about two years, however, there is the possibility that they will never regenerate.  

woman breastfeeding baby after reduction is possible

Breastfeeding after Breast Reduction

If it is discovered that your surgery is affecting your milk supply, there are other ways to feed your baby. As we mentioned before, we love supporting clients in conjunction with their IBCLC and pediatrician to ensure that their baby is getting what it needs to be healthy and happy. This can look like exploring alternative feeding methods, supplementation with formula or donor milk. Let’s chat! We would love to schedule a free consultation with you to learn what your feeding goals and expectations are. We can’t wait to meet you! 

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