Breastfeeding after breast reduction

If you have had breast reduction surgery in the past, it’s encouraging to know that breastfeeding is still possible. 

The amount of milk you can make will vary from person to person. The main thing is to start breastfeeding and see what happens with your milk supply. 

Some women find that they produce a full supply, while others will create a partial amount of milk and will need to give supplements of formula as well as breastfeeding.

However, even if your body only produces a minimal amount of milk, it is still possible to have your baby at the breast.

How much milk your body makes will usually depend on the type of surgery that you had during the breast reduction.

If you have not yet had surgery but are considering having this procedure, it’s essential to have a consultation with your surgeon regarding future breastfeeding so that the surgical procedure will minimize disruption to the milk-making tissue inside.

If you have already had surgery, and during that procedure, the nipple and areola were not completely severed, there is an increased chance of making milk.

However, if there has been a severing of that area, the surgery may have cut into nerves necessary to aid milk production.

Mum cradling baby whilst breastfeeding

Breast reduction surgery can also affect the ducts inside the breasts and the glands where the milk is made, but the good news is that there can be some regrowth over time.

Even in pregnancy, the glandular tissue may start to grow and enlarge.

The longer the time span from when you had the surgery to becoming pregnant, the better.

This gives your body the chance for this regrowth.

Evidence suggests that if there has been more than five years, this is a positive factor.

So whether you are pregnant or already starting to breastfeed now, and you have already had breast reduction surgery, regardless of the type of surgery that you had, there are still possibilities to increase your supply. 

It is essential, therefore, to seek out skilled help from an IBCLC, a breastfeeding counselor, or your health professional who can get alongside you and give you some added information on boosting supply.

It’s essential to learn about how to boost and maintain your milk production by doing regular, daily skin to skin, good positioning at the breast, extra pumping, use of galactagogues, and breast compressions. All of these strategies can help.

If your baby can latch at the breast, it is possible to be able to feed fully at the breast. 

However, if your body is struggling to produce all the milk your baby needs, you may need to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding. 

In that situation, you may choose to feed your baby at the breast using an at breast supplementer.

I appreciate that some mothers want to have their baby at the breast for all of the suckling needs.Some feel strongly that they don’t want to offer bottles.

For some of you, however, giving bottles is the preferred option alongside feeding at the breast. This is really an individual decision. 

Babies come to the breast for warmth, comfort, and relationship building.

Lots of skin to skin can be done with your baby, so even if you find that with all of your best efforts, your body is not able to make enough milk or even NO milk, you can still use a nursing supplementer to have your baby fully at the breast, as long as he can latch.

In this particular scenario, you may prefer to bring your baby to the breast just for comfort and also to offer bottles of formula to your baby. There are lots of ways to do things! 

If you have had breast reduction surgery, I can appreciate that all of this can sound rather daunting, but the rewards of trying to boost your supply and maximizing your breastmilk can undoubtedly pay off. 

You will know that you have given your best efforts, and your relationship with your baby at the breast, with or without a full milk supply, can still carry on regardless if desired.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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