Can breastfeeding mothers get mammograms?
Yes, breastfeeding mothers can have mammograms.
Mothers asking this question may have two concerns:
1. Will the radiation affect my milk and harm my baby?
2. Is it possible to read the mammogram of a lactating breast?
X-rays do not affect mother's milk, so you can safely resume breastfeeding immediately after the mammogram. In fact, according to the LLLI WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, page 134, "Mammograms, x-rays and ultrasound tests will not interfere with breastfeeding."
The second question has a longer answer. It is possible to read a mammogram of a lactating breast. Breasts that produce milk are called lactating breasts. Due to milk production, there is more dense tissue present in the lactating breast than in a non-lactating one. This normal density may make it harder to read the results. The amount of tissue in your breast depends on the frequency that your baby is breastfeeding. If breastfeeding occurs infrequently, there will be less milk and tissue so the mammogram would be easier to read. To help reduce the amount of milk prior to a mammogram, you could bring your baby and breastfeed immediately prior to the procedure. Finding a radiologist experienced in reading mammograms of lactating breasts would produce more reliable results.
Resources for Additional Information
Contact a local La Leche League Leader for more information and support . For help in finding a local Leader, check out Finding a Local LLL Group.
"Breast Health in Lactating Women" by Anne M. Montgomery, MD, from LLLI professional journal, BREASTFEEDING ABSTRACTS, May 2001, Volume 20, Number 4, pp. 27-28, includes information on mammograms.
These items may be available from the LLLI Online Store or through your local Leader.
THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, published by La Leche League International, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother. (Softcover, 465 pages)
La Leche League International's BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK by Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock This popular LLLI resource book discusses mammograms on page 426. (Hardcover, Spiral-bound, 8 1/2"x 11". 586 pages)
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.