After healing and resting from pregnancy and childbirth, many moms feel the need to bring some more movement into their routine. Often moms are concerned about how exercise and breastfeeding can go together. Luckily, studies have shown that moderate exercise will not affect your milk supply (1). So why do so many moms worry about exercise and breastfeeding? Lots of new moms begin exercising around 6 weeks postpartum and at the same time, baby often starts nursing more frequently. Many moms think this means they are having issues with supply, related to their exercise. But actually, 6 weeks is a normal growth spurt when baby will need to nurse more often. So feel free to start moving your body in healthy ways without any worries about supply. If you do have consistent worries about supply, please contact a lactation consultant. We have 4 lactation consultants here at Lactation Link that can help online or in-person.
Hi mamas! I’m Kristin Gourley, IBCLC. I’m a mom to 5 and lactation consultant with Lactation Link. I’m here today to debunk some myths about what not to eat when breastfeeding and if you need a breastfeeding diet. Thanks for stopping by!
Mothers from cultures all over the world have been breastfeeding for, well, forever. Many cultures have unique foods that would be considered anything but bland. These babies thrive even when their moms eat these flavorful foods, so we know it’s not something that needs to be universally avoided.
Hi mamas, I’m Stephanie Weight Hadfield, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and mom of 4. I’m here today to talk about breastfeeding after breast surgery. Enjoy!
This has been such a common question recently on our mother’s support forum on instagram. Most people automatically assume that it isn’t possible to breastfeed after having had breast surgery, but many mothers who have had breast surgery are able to go on and have an enjoyable and fulfilling breastfeeding relationship with their babies. Diana West IBCLC, author of Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery, believes that breastfeeding is possible if three factors are present:
- At least one breast and one nipple
The question here isn’t if you’ll be able to make milk, but how much you’ll be able to make. Most women who have had breast surgery are able to make at least some milk for their babies, if not a full supply. Let’s first discuss factors that may affect milk production. Then we’ll cover some practical things you can do to give yourself the best start possible, as well as how you can have a breastfeeding relationship with your baby even if you’re not able to make all the milk your baby needs.
In this post, I will be discussing the factors that influence breastfeeding after breast surgery and how to prepare to breastfeed.
- Contributing factors
- Where your scars are
- When your surgery took place
- How to prepare to breastfeed after breast surgery
- Prenatal education
- Consider one-on-one support with an IBCLC
- Tips on choosing a supportive healthcare provider
- Learn about at-the-breast supplementation
Contributing factors to breastfeeding success after breast surgery
First, consider where your scars are. Incisions around the areola (that darker skin around your nipple) are more likely to interfere with milk ducts and nerves critical to lactation than incisions in the fold under the breast, in the armpit, or the navel. If a portion of milk-making glands are removed, your potential milk volume will probably be affected. Because of this, breast reduction is more likely to cause supply problems than breast augmentation. By the same token, if only one breast was affected by surgery, usually a breast biopsy or lumpectomy, full milk production is more likely.
Next, consider how long ago your surgery took place. Nerves can regenerate slowly over time. So, the more years that have passed since the surgery, the better chances you have for necessary nerve response, even if important nerves were severed. If you can feel both touch and temperature on your areola and nipple you are more likely to have the intact nerve pathways necessary for a normal milk ejection reflex.
Milk ducts, the supply lines of the breast, can regenerate too, and they do it fastest in response to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many moms who had partial supplies with their first babies may find that they get progressively more milk with each subsequent baby, sometimes even a full supply.
There’s really no way to know exactly how breast surgery has affected your milk-making capacity until baby is born and your breasts get a chance to start doing their job. It’s important to remember that there is great value in any amount of milk you are able to provide for your baby. Babies can receive some immune protection and nutritional benefit from even small amounts of their mother’s’ milk. The benefits of the milk itself aside, breastfeeding is much more than just another way to get food into a baby. It’s also about a physical and emotional connection between mother and child. It is definitely worth working for, and any mother who chooses to should be supported in her goal.
So, what can you do to prepare yourself for breastfeeding after breast surgery? Here’s my advice:
- Learn as much as you can about normal breastfeeding, especially how to position your baby effectively to get a deep, comfortable latch, and the signs of good milk intake. Lactation Link’s Breastfeeding Basics course is a fantastic option for moms anywhere in the world. It’s more comprehensive and easy to understand than your typical local hospital breastfeeding course, and you can re-watch it as many times as you need.
- Consider scheduling a prenatal e-consult with one of Lactation Link’s International Board Certified Lactation Consultants to go over your health and surgery history and work together to create a plan to monitor and protect baby’s growth and maximize your milk supply. Learn more here.
- Choose healthcare providers for both yourself and your baby who are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, not just tolerant of it. Ask around for referrals and interview a few to find providers that will be a good fit for your family. This post, How to Choose a Healthcare Provider for Your Baby, is a great place to get some tips on this as well.
- Learn about at-breast supplementation. There are special supplementing devices that consist of bottles with long thin tubes that baby can latch onto along with your nipple so that he or she can be supplemented while breastfeeding if more milk is needed than you are able to produce. Think of it as an external, bonus milk duct system. These devices can be a fantastic way to preserve the benefits of the breastfeeding relationship while ensuring that your baby is receiving the nutrition he or she needs to grow well. Some mothers really love them, and others…not so much. There definitely seems to be a learning curve for using at-breast supplementers. While they can be helpful, they aren’t the only option for supplementation. Lactation Link IBCLCs can help you find the best solution for supplementation through an in-person consultation or online eConsult.
Breastfeeding after breast surgery sometimes requires an adjustment of expectations. There will be many options for working through the challenges the come your way, and YOU are the one who gets to decide what works for your family. Give yourself space to celebrate your commitment to giving your baby the best start possible in life and all the work you put into that goal. And remember, your love for your baby can’t be measured in ounces or milliliters. It’s way too big for that.
Have you signed up for our free email breastfeeding course?
I think you’ll find it really helpful. Click the image below for more info.
Thanks for stopping by,
Stephanie Weight Hadfield, BS, IBCLC
West, D. & Marasco, L. (2009). The breastfeeding mother’s guide to making more milk. New York: McGraw Hill.
West, D. (2001). Defining your own success: Breastfeeding after breast reduction surgery. Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International, 2001
Hi mamas! I’m Kristin Gourley, IBCLC. I’m a mom to 5 and lactation consultant with Lactation Link. I’m here today to talk about breastfeeding and losing weight!
I am often asked by moms if breastfeeding while trying to lose weight is okay. In general, yes! It is safe to lose weight and breastfeed your baby.
After the obvious loss of weight from the baby and placenta, some women find that they continue to lose pregnancy weight without any extra effort (lucky ducks!). Just like everything related to babies, though, that’s not always the case and postpartum weight changes vary woman to woman!
How breastfeeding can affect mother’s weight
One study found that women who entered pregnancy with a normal-range Body Mass Index retained less weight if they breastfed for 6+ months, versus those who breastfed less than 1 week, who retained more weight. The same study found that women who entered pregnancy obese were below their pre-pregnancy weight at six months postpartum if they breastfed exclusively!
Whether you notice that you don’t have to work hard to lose the baby weight or that you have to consciously watch your diet in order to drop pounds, it is still important to eat healthy as a breastfeeding mom. I like to recommend a colorful diet, drinking water as often as you are thirsty, try to minimize sweets and fried foods. While your milk is still high-quality even if your diet isn’t perfect, how you feel, how you sleep, and your mood may be affected if you’re not taking in enough nutrients.
Can I breastfeed if I want to lose weight?
So what if you aren’t losing weight naturally while breastfeeding? Is it safe to diet? Studies have shown that short-term dieting combined with exercise does not affect milk supply. Most women should eat at least 1800 calories per day and can safely lose around 1 pound per week. Harsh diets like liquid fasts and diet pills should be avoided. Get some tips for postpartum wellness from a nutrition coach here. Remember to be cleared for exercise by your doctor or midwife after birth before beginning to work out.
Most mothers do want to lose weight postpartum. Breastfeeding alone may help you in that endeavor, but the bottom line about postpartum weight loss is that eating healthy is always a good idea, exercise is safe while breastfeeding, and it’s okay to work to lose about a pound per week. If you’re having trouble losing weight or are losing too much, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. If you are worried about your weight loss’s effect on breastfeeding, reach out to us for a consult so we can help you reach your goals!
More on this topic from Lactation Link:
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin Gourley, BS, IBCLC
Baker, JL, Gamborg, M, Heitmann, BL, Lissner, L, Sorensen, TIA, Rasmussen, KM. (2008). Breastfeeding reduces postpartum weight retention. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 88: 1543-1551.
Lauwers, J. & Swisher, A. (2011) Nutrition in pregnancy and lactation. Counseling the nursing mother: A lactation consultant’s guide. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Today we are continuing our series, “Can I breastfeed if…?” It’s not uncommon for moms to need to undergo surgery while she is breastfeeding. I myself had 3 unexpected surgeries while breastfeeding my daughter. To be able to breastfeed after surgery can be a way to help mom feel that she is back to normal after her procedure. I hope this post can reassure you that breastfeeding does not need to be interrupted for surgery.
Can I breastfeed if I have to have surgery?
Almost always, yes! There is no contraindication to breastfeeding while fasting if that is necessary before your procedure. Many mothers worry about sedation medications or anesthesia affecting their infants but, if you have a healthy baby, once you are awake enough to hold and nurse your baby, the anesthesia has left your system enough to not be an issue for baby(1). Also, many prescription and over-the-counter pain medications are compatible with breastfeeding if that is necessary.
As you can see, breastfeeding is compatible with most situations! Even if breastfeeding has to be stopped for a short period of time, it can usually be resumed. If you need information about pumping and storing for a planned breastfeeding break, be sure to check out our Pumping and Storing breastmilk video class. If you have further questions or a complex situation, don’t hesitate to schedule a consult to figure out how to best meet your breastfeeding goals no matter what is going on!
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
(1) Montgomery, A., & Hale, T. W. (2012). ABM Clinical Protocol #15: Analgesia and Anesthesia for the Breastfeeding Mother, Revised 2012. Breastfeeding Medicine,7(6), 547-553. doi:10.1089/bfm.2012.9977
A common question we get in our community of moms begins with “Can I breastfeed if….” And it’s no wonder! We are told to avoid everything from roller coasters to alcohol to X-rays while pregnant, and the conflicting recommendations can carry over after birth when our body is still nourishing our little ones. So today we are launching a new series, “Can I breastfeed if…” and we will discuss some commonly asked questions about the safety of various activities and substances while pregnant. If you have a question share it on instagram with the hashtag #canibreastfeedif and we will repost and answer our favorites!
Can I breastfeed if I plan to drink alcohol?
The short answer is yes when done with a few guidelines in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding recommends that mothers limit their alcohol intake while breastfeeding, and ingest no more than 2 oz. liquor, 8 oz. wine, or 2 beers, as well as abstain from breastfeeding for about 2 hours after drinking to further minimize any alcohol in breastmilk. (1)
Pumping and dumping shouldn’t be necessary when following the above guidelines as it does not reduce the alcohol in milk any faster. Just be sure to feed baby right before leaving home and consuming your alcohol fairly soon after arriving. This gives the alcohol time to work its way out before becoming reunited with baby. Since milk is made from your blood, once your own blood alcohol level has gone down, so has your milk’s alcohol level.
So feel safe to enjoy that holiday eggnog and return to breastfeeding a few hours later. Do you have any questions for us in this series? Let us know in the comments and on social. Lots more info about how substances and food interact with breastmilk in my video classes.
Get more breastfeeding wisdom with my Top 10 Breastfeeding Tips. Click below to get started.
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. (2012, March). Pediatrics, 129(3), 842-856. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827
Is it safe to consume caffeine while breastfeeding? I posted a Fact or Fiction about this topic Friday on instagram and many of you had a lot to say! The Fact or Fiction statement was, “Caffeine should be avoided while breastfeeding.” Here’s a few comments from you guys.
Elizabeth Kallen said, “If I can’t have caffeine after being up all night nursing, then no one is going to get fed, dressed, or loved!”
Bethany Nixon said, “I have heard up to 5 cups regular coffee a day is okay…am I doing that? NO! But if I need a second cup in the afternoon to get over the afternoon slump I will!”
Addison Fagner said, “I don’t know the answer but I do know every time I drink soda, that same night is sooooo hard on my little one! I’ve stopped all caffeine now. Not worth it!”
Here’s my answer to the statement: Fiction.
Based on research studies, very little caffeine actually passes into mother’s milk (1). Many experts agree that it takes more than 5 cups of caffeinated coffee daily to see effects in the breastfed baby (2). That is the equivalent of about 300 mg. Something to keep in mind is that you are aware of each source of caffeine you are consuming. Examples of caffeine sources include coffee, iced and hot teas, energy drinks, caffeinated soft drinks, and some over-the-counter medications. Chocolate contains a substance that mimics caffeine and can produce a similar effect in large quantities.
While these are general guidelines, we know that every baby is different! It may take a smaller amount to affect some infants. Here are some symptoms to watch for indicating your infant is overstimulated due to your caffeine intake.
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Unusually fussy
If you are noticing these symptoms, try avoiding caffeine and substituting caffeine-free beverages. Observe your infant and watch for an improvement. If the symptoms were due to too much caffeine, your infant should improve within a few days to a week.
I hope this is helpful! My passion is educating you on all your feeding options so you can reach your goals, whatever they may be! My video classes are available to click and watch at your convenience. You can learn in the comfort of you home in your jammies! Also my classes NEVER EXPIRE! You can watch them over and over. They also come with a notes outline. A great promo going out to my newsletter subscribers in the morning. Sign up to see how to get a free full-size nipple cream from Boob and Baby. The photography in this post is by Lizzy Jean Photography.
More on this topic form Lactation Link:
Thanks for coming by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
- Berlin, C. et al. (1984). Disposition of dietary caffeine in milk saliva and plasma of lactating women. Pediatrics(73), 59-63.
- Nehlig, A. and Debry, G. (1994). Consequences on the newborn of chronic maternal consumption of coffee during gestation and lactation: a review. J Am Coll Nutr(13), 1, 6-21.