Breastfeeding: Can you nurse with silicone breast implants?

When I was 17 I had corrective surgery on my right breast due to a  deformity.I have one silicone implant. My surgeon advised me that I would never be able to breastfeed. I am 29 and in my final month of pregnancy. I have spoken to my doctor regarding the possibility of breastfeeding with an implant and he is not sure if I will be able to. If I am able to breastfeed, will my milk be safe for my baby?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Many women are able to successfully nurse their babies with silicone implants. They are compatible with breastfeeding. Since you only had surgery on the one side, you are at an advantage. You can nurse exclusively from the unaffected side.

Since a deformity necessitated your surgery, there may be other problems with the nerves and milk ducts aside from any possible damage that might have occurred during surgery. You might want to speak with your surgeon about this.

Silicone is not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It is quite doubtful that nursing with silicone breast implants would be harmful to your baby. Even if silicone did leak from your implants (and the chance of this is only about 1.5 percent), it is highly unlikely that it would be able to leak through the pores in your alveoli (milk-producing cells) and into your milk, due to it's high molecular weight. Also, it's inability to dissolve in water makes it unlikely to enter your milk supply. If it did somehow find its way into your milk, would it be dangerous to your baby? Actually, the silicone used in implants is the same form as in Mylicon drops that have been used for many years to treat gassiness and colic in babies. Silicone is also used in the manufacturing of pacifiers and bottle nipples, in over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, and to coat fruits and vegetables.

The only way to know for sure how much milk you will be able to produce is by nursing your baby. If your baby's output is inadequate, and it is determined that your milk supply is not meeting his nutritional needs, formula can be offered at your breast using a nursing supplementer. Normal output in your baby's first couple of days of life is two to three wet diapers a day, and one to two bowel movements daily. As your milk becomes more plentiful around the third or fourth day of your baby's life, wet diapers begin increasing from about three each day to between six and eight daily, with at least two bowel movements each day.

Finding a lactation expert is a must. She will take a complete history, work with you to position your baby to best access your milk, and will help you to evaluate your milk supply, guiding you in the use of a nursing supplementer if necessary.

Don't worry if you can't provide 100 percent of your baby's nutrition at your breast. Any amount of nursing is beneficial to your baby.

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