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Breastfeeding after breast surgery

Most mums who have had breast surgery can breastfeed

breast surgery

If you are pregnant and have had breast surgery (eg breast reduction or breast augmentation), you may be concerned about how it could affect breastfeeding. 

One of the best first steps to take is to contact a breastfeeding counsellor or a lactation consultant well before the birth. Attending a breastfeeding workshop while pregnant may answer some of your concerns. It may also help to make a breastfeeding plan.

Most mums who have had breast surgery can breastfeed, at least in some way. Some can: 

  • fully breastfeed (ie without needing top-up feeds)  

  • partially breastfeed (ie with some topping up)  

  • breastfeed with the help of medicines to boost supply depending on the reason for low supply.  

I had breast surgery in the past

If you’ve had breast surgery, it’s difficult to know which of the above groups you will fall into, until your baby is born and you start to breastfeed. 

How your surgery was done can impact upon how fully you can breastfeed.   

  • Breast reduction surgery is more likely to cause milk supply problems than breast augmentation surgery. This is particularly so if your nipple was moved to a new position during the surgery. This will have disrupted the nerve supply to the nipple and areola.   

  • It also depends on how much the surgery disrupted the milk glands and milk ducts. However, nerves can regrow, although slowly, and glandular tissue can develop during pregnancy. 

  • If you had breast augmentation because you didn't have enough breast tissue, then this may also mean you have problems with milk supply. This is particularly so if nerves and milk ducts were cut during surgery.  

  • If you have had a mastectomy, or a partial mastectomy and radiotherapy for breast cancer, you are able to breastfeed from the other breast. Some mothers who have had radiotherapy after a partial mastectomy may be able to partially breastfeed on the affected side as well. 

I am having breast surgery

Before the surgery, discuss your current (or future) breastfeeding situation with your breast surgeon. Where possible, your surgeon can change the way they do the surgery to enable you to breastfeed in the future.   

If you are breastfeeding at the moment, talk to your doctors about how the surgery may affect your ability to breastfeed.  

  • How soon will I be able to breastfeed my baby? 

  • What treatments or medicines will I need and will I be able to keep breastfeeding with them?  

  • Can I keep breastfeeding on the other breast?  

You may find it useful to read more about breastfeeding and anaesthesia and going to hospital

Whatever your situation, keep in contact with a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant after your surgery. They can help you to establish and / or keep going with breastfeeding. 


© Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2022