By: Rebecca Woolf, of Girl’s Gone Child
First let me start by saying that this is kind of a trick question. Not everyone who has had a breast reduction can or will be able to breastfeed. All of our bodies heal differently and some of us are luckier than others in terms of recovery, scarring and ability to operate our machinery in an able fashion. After two breast-reductions (one at 18 and another at age 20) and two babies, I’ve picked up a few tips for my post-op friends hoping to nurse or partially nurse their babes after going under the knife.
1. Whip Em’ Out
The minute that baby comes out latch him/her on to your boob and pray. You’ll want to have some formula on hand if you find yourself unable to produce milk but give yourself the first few days to figure out the whole latching-on situation. Do you have Colostrum coming out if you squeeze ‘yer boobies? Then, awesome. That’s all baby needs for the first few days. If on day three or four your milk doesn’t come in, you may be unable to breastfeed. Don’t feel bad, though! You tried and that kicks ass. A happy mommy = a happy baby so go forth and prosper, bottle in hand!
If your milk does come in? Keep reading:
2. Pump up the Jam!
You will absolutely need a pump if you hope to increase what milk supply you have post-reduction. Some women are able to produce milk but sadly cannot get the milk to come out because of ducts don’t work properly. In most cases you will find that some ducts are able to recover from the surgery. By pumping every few hours for those first few days and weeks, you can get the most bang for your milk-producing buck. I am able to pump far more with a hand-pump than with an electronic pump but I seem to be the only person on earth to whom this applies so my advice is to try both the electric pump and the hand pump and see what works best for you. You can pump either after nursing or an hour or two between nursing sections. Refrigerate all pumped milk in ready-to-feed bottles.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Supplement
99 times out of 100 you will have to supplement somewhat when breastfeeding post-reduction. It’s par for the course so familiarize yourself with various formula brands and make sure to have some on hand at all times. Give formula only after you have nursed on both sides and/or fed baby what breastmilk you have been able to pump between feeding sessions (no matter how small the amount.)
4. Embrace Herbs
Pick up a bottle of Fenugreek at your local health-food store. Other herbs that help supply? Fennel Seed, Red Raspberry Leaf, Blessed Thistle and Marshmallow Root.
Also? Alfalfa, oatmeal and yes, even beer help boost supply so go ahead and enjoy that evening Heineken guilt-free! Woo!
5. Drink Up, Baby.
In order to maintain your supply you’ll want to drink as much water as humanly possible. Okay, so don’t OD on water but you’ll want to drink two large glasses of water every time you sit down to nurse and/or pump and keep drinking water throughout the day. For the same reason you’ll want to limit your soda consumption and stay away from salty foods. (Notice I don’t mention coffee? You will NEED your cup of coffee in order to stay sane. I mean… obviously.)
6. No Pressure
There is nothing worse than a stressed mama so please for the love of all that is good, do not stress yourself out. With my first baby I put WAY too much pressure on myself to breastfeed, knowing that it was going to be improbable. I was unable to produce more than one ounce of milk per feeding and felt total guilt because of it. This time around I’m much more laid back. All I can do is try, right? Right. And all you can do is try, too.
So good luck and may the force be with you.
If you have any tips to share, please do so!
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