Breastfed babies tend to be healthier than formula-fed babies, with lower risks for ear infections, obesity, asthma, allergies, gastrointestinal disease and respiratory illnesses. However, not all women have a sufficient supply of breast milk to exclusively breastfeed their babies. A low milk supply could be due to a number of different factors, including taking birth control pills, introducing a bottle too early, the baby not latching on properly, the baby not nursing often enough, exercising or dieting too much or the mother having had breast augmentation surgery.
In 2010, board certified plastic surgeons performed 296,203 breast augmentations in the United States alone. This is one of the most commonly performed surgeries by plastic surgeons. However, the type of breast augmentation you have done will affect your risk for future lactation issues, so speak with your surgeon if this is a concern of yours.
Having surgery through an incision around your nipple is more likely to result in problems in breastfeeding after breast augmentation than if your incision is under your breast or in your armpit, although all types of breast surgery increase the risk of future lactation problems.
A number of studies have been conducted on the effect of breast implants on lactation. Study results (Full report here) are relatively consistent, with breast implants making it approximately three times more likely you will have trouble producing enough milk to breastfeed your baby exclusively. If your surgery involves an incision around your nipple, you are five times more likely to have insufficient milk production compared to women who have not had any type of breast surgery.
The reason for the lactation insufficiency that many women experience after breast surgery is not clear. Possible explanations include the surgery damaging the ducts that produce breastmilk or the implant damaging breast tissue by putting too much pressure on it. Women who have had this type of surgery are less likely to even attempt breastfeeding because they are afraid they will not be able to produce enough milk to feed their babies. There is also an increased risk for other breastfeeding-related problems, including 'Mastitis', a type of infection that is more common when women have clogged milk ducts.
Even though having breast implants increases your risk for lactation problems, this doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to breastfeed your baby and provide her with all the benefits breastfeeding offers. Many mothers who are worried they are not producing enough milk are actually producing enough to meet their babies' needs. However, if you are concerned your baby is not gaining enough weight or producing enough wet diapers, which are both signs of getting sufficient amounts of milk, speak with a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can help you to determine whether your child is getting sufficient amounts of milk and help you correct the problem if she is not.
The Simplest Tips
There are a number of steps you can take to increase your milk supply. These include feeding your baby more often, using a breast pump to further stimulate your breasts to produce more milk, making sure the baby is latching on correctly and not just sucking on the nipple itself, switching to a method of birth control that doesn't use hormones and making sure you are consuming sufficient calories and amounts of fluid to produce the necessary milk.
If you are contemplating breast augmentation surgery but want to limit the risk of future lactation problems, you should speak only with International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Board certified plastic surgeons who can help you determine both the pros and cons of the surgery and the best way to limit the risk of damaging your future milk supply should you have a child.