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Nursing with Breast Implants

Patricia Macaluso
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 10 No. 4, July-August 1993, pp. 114-5

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time

After receiving LLLI's booklet on Breastfeeding with Implants, I decided to share my breastfeeding experiences.

Fifteen years ago when my first son Gandalf, was born, I knew no alternative but to breastfeed. I did not have breast implants at the time. My son thrived receiving only breast milk at his request, no water or pacifiers. He was a wonderful contented baby. When he turned six months I noticed he was nursing more often, and I attributed it to a growth spurt. However, the following month when I missed my period I realized from a home pregnancy test that we were expecting our second child. I continued to nurse my son through the pregnancy. In December 1978 my second son, Nealo, was born. He took to nursing like a pro and I settled into a wonderful tandem nursing relationship.

My first son weaned at around two-and-a-half years of age and my second son also weaned at around two and a half. I cherish the nursing relationships I had with my two sons, and I know I gave them the best start to a healthy childhood and life.

In April 1986, after eight years of thought on the subject of breast implants for me, I underwent surgery on both breasts. Since adolescence my breasts had been very uneven. My right side was concave and my left side protruded. I could never wear anything tight or even a bra because of the size difference, and I felt self-conscious about my strange shape. Since I did not plan on having any more children, I felt comfortable with the procedure. I did, however, inform the surgeon that a child in the future was not impossible, and that I would like to retain my ability to breastfeed.

After six years and a new marriage, I was expecting my third child. Valerie was born July 29,1992. Since my sons were born at home, I had not had to deal with the procedures of a hospital. Fortunately, the birth center I went to allowed rooming-in and at my request my daughter received nothing but breast milk. She nursed well from the start and pretty much continuously. We were released the following day and I was grateful to be away from the numerous interruptions of the hospital routine. Since I was concerned about breastfeeding with implants, I contacted La Leche League International. The advice I received was reassuring. I had also spoken with my nurse-midwife and my pediatrician, who also reassured me before Valerie was born.

Valerie is six months old now; we have weathered two breast infections, a mild nursing strike, and two teenagers in the house. She is doing wonderfully. She has gained very well and receives only breast milk. I have had no problems with supply, although she favors my left side and will only nurse in the football hold on the right. I have a slight numbness on the left side below the areola. However, this does not seem to interfere with the let-down reflex. I am planning to nurse Valerie until she decides to wean. I feel very strongly about the advantages of breastfeeding and if any risks are ever found to be associated with nursing with implants, I will still feel I've done what is best for her. When considering nursing with implants, nursing mothers should consider these points:

  1. What kind of implant did I receive? (Find out the type, manufacturer, and date of production. The surgeon should have this information.)
  2. Were there any complications associated with this type of implant within a few or several years after insertion?
  3. Is my health practitioner and/or pediatrician supportive? (If not, find a new one who does support breastfeeding. They are out there.)
  4. What are the provisions for breastfeeding at the hospital where I will be delivering? (Patients can request their routine and not have to be intimidated by complaints from the staff!)
  5. How does my husband feel about my breastfeeding with implants? (Don't listen to friends, family, or strangers about breastfeeding. Your husband and you are the only ones who should make decisions about your child's upbringing.)
  6. Read books on breastfeeding and contact La Leche League International. (I found these to be a help, even though I had successfully breastfed two children.
  7. Listen to your baby! (The best way to a successful nursing relationship. Let him decide when he is hungry. What may be a good suggestion for one child is disastrous for another.)

Since I have had the opportunity to nurse both with and without implants, I see no difference with the outcome thus far with my daughter.

Thank you for being a wonderful organization where women throughout the world can realize the beautiful natural relationship between a mother and her child.

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