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Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding after removal of benign lump

03/10/2000

Question:

I had a benign lump removed from my breast almost 13 years ago. The doctors made an incision on my areola - will I be able to breastfeed?

Answer:

You should be able to breastfeed, although there is a possibility that some milk ducts or milk-producing tissue was damaged during the breast surgery. If damage occurred, it is unlikely that all tissue or ducts in that breast were affected. That breast may produce less milk; however, breastfeeding and lactation still could be established in all undamaged milk-producing tissue attached to undamaged milk ducts. Also, the opposite breast is unaffected, so milk production in the opposite breast would be unaffected.

When you combine the milk-making ability of the unaffected breast with the functional milk-making tissue in the affected breast, there is a good chance that you would be able to produce as much milk as a baby requires for its first several months. Most women are capable of producing far more milk than a single infant needs. This is the reason some women are able to fully breastfed a single infant from one breast after mastectomy and some mothers of multiples can fully breastfed two to four babies for several weeks to months. However, if a large number of tissue or ducts were damaged in the one breast and the opposite breast cannot make up for it, you still can partially breastfeed and your baby still would receive many of the benefits of breastfeeding.

When you become pregnant, you probably will want to pay attention to the development and changes in each breast. Let your health care provider know if there is much difference in development or if there is little change in the affected breast. You also may want to contact a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and a mother support group, such as La Leche League in your area before your baby is born. They will have information that will help you know whether you are making enough milk for your baby and be able to provide ideas that may help you optimize your breasts` milk-making ability.

All the best!

References:

Neifert MR (1999). Clinical aspects of lactation: Promoting breastfeeding success. Clinics in Perinatology, 26(2), 281-306.

Riordan J & Auerbach KG (Eds.) (1999). Breastfeeding and human lactation (2nd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.

Wilson-Clay B & Hoover K (1999). The breastfeeding atlas. Austin, TX: LactNews Press.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati