Monday, March 19, 2012

Breastfeeding After Breast Surgery

I am reading the Breastfeeding After Breast Surgery page on the La Leche League website and I am beyond inspired by what some women have done to keep their baby at the breast.

I love the following lines from a woman's story who breastfed after breast reduction surgery with a nursing supplementer:

Rebecca showed me how to place the tube next to my nipple so Gabriela would receive the milk in the bottle while she was breastfeeding. That was definitely not the solution I was expecting. But my husband, Elbert, was enthusiastic and supportive of trying new things. He helped me believe it would work. He washed those bottles hundreds of times, often in the middle of the night, and thanks to his support, we kept going.

The last conversation was with a dancer friend of mine. I was in a theater with Gabriela, getting ready to feed her. My friend asked if I had switched Gabriela to the bottle. I answered, "No, we are still using the SNS." She said she couldn't believe I used the device in public. I replied, "I have no reason to change the way my child is fed in or outside my home. I have no reason to be ashamed of it."

Another woman found that although she couldn't exclusively breastfeed her first baby after breast reduction surgery, she could with her second, because her milk ducts had reconnected!

Alex was still intensely nursing at age two-and-a-half, when I became pregnant. I consulted many times via email with Diana West, author of Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery (Available from the LLLI Online Store), as well as other La Leche League Leaders. The hope among all of us was that having an enthusiastic nurser would have given my milk ducts an opportunity to recanalize, restoring their flow so that I might be able to exclusively breastfeed this new baby. I had no idea the body was even capable of such repair. I was skeptical, but thrilled.

Ben was welcomed into this world five months ago. He weighs 19 pounds. Amazingly, he has only had his mama's milk. His brother gave him the gift of recanalized milk ducts and Ben has given his mother the gift of above average weight gain, to reassure me during those times of doubting my body. Both of my babies have given me the gift of trusting my body to heal and to provide sustenance in more ways than I had ever imagined possible. There are truly blessings all around!

It is just incredible what the human body can do, and what a mother can do with education, support and determination.

For a little more clinical detail, you can see this article by Diana West, the author of Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery.

And on the Breastfeeding After Breast Surgerypage, there are stories of continuing to breastfeed after other types of breast surgeries as well.

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