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Does this mean I'll be able to breastfeed?

(10 Posts)
anne74 Sun 05-Dec-10 13:14:17

I mentioned in another post that I had breast surgery 10 years ago and was told there was a risk I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. I'd been told that if they removed the nipple during the surgery then chances were very slim as the milk ducts would have been disrupted.

I just tried expressing to see if anything came out and little drops appeared on both nipples. I'm so excited!! Does this mean that I might be physically able to breastfeed? Whether I can manage it is a different matter but would you take this as a positive sign? It must mean that milk can actually get to and through the nipple.

What do you think?

ReshapeWhileDamp Sun 05-Dec-10 13:24:50

I honestly don't know and would have to see, but it does sound like you're making colostrum that's able to get through at least some of the ducts! smile What does it look like? You might not have many ducts intact, but it may not matter. However, I know that damage to the ducts and lobules varies with the type of breast surgery that's performed.

I don't know much about breast surgery, but moving the nipple can sever some of the milk ducts. But modern breast surgery often manages to preserve most of the duct system when the nipple is moved, as a chunk of tissue behind the nipple is also moved with it. Is that what happened to you? Surgery done in the 70's and 80's is more likely to disrupt breastfeeding.

I'd contact a breastfeeding counsellor (see the NCT website for contacts) and see what they can advise. Kellymom

ReshapeWhileDamp Sun 05-Dec-10 13:26:12

Sorry, that should have been 'kellymom also has a lot on this'. smile

anne74 Sun 05-Dec-10 13:35:19

I planned for an uplift and he also ended up doing a reduction, more on one side than the other. I'm told that's the part that can cause the problems as sometimes the nipple is completely removed then replaced. I've asked the company to get my notes from their archives so I can find out exactly what was done.

I saw an infant feeding advisor from my local hospital and she said 'never say never' as research has shown that it's possible in some cases for the ducts to regenerate. She felt that if I can at least give the baby the colostrum it would be better than nothing. My experience just now gives me a bit of hope that that might now be possible. She said she would see me again and we would try colostrum harvesting at around 36 weeks.

Fingers crossed!!

florilegia Sun 05-Dec-10 21:10:17

Congratulations! I'm in the same position as you: reduction surgery some years ago (although I don't think the nipple was removed in my case: I had a LeJour reduction, which involves the nipple being moved in the way Reshape described) and now I'm getting colostrum. It's so exciting, isn't it? I've had lots of really helpful information from other BFAR ladies on MN, and it does look as if this is a good sign. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you: hopefully we might both be able to breastfeed!

florilegia Sun 05-Dec-10 21:12:22

Oh, I should have asked: did the advisor explain anything about how they do the colostrum harvesting? I have been wondering about this: was it something your MW suggested, or did you have to approach the hospital specially?

anne74 Sun 05-Dec-10 21:58:26

Thanks for your encouragement Florilegia! The midwife that I saw at the hospital (a complete gem of a person who I'm not really supposed to see but I'm under consultant care so sometimes she does my checks for me) recommended that I contact this advisor as she felt that she might be able to offer advice and make sure that the whole experience was as positive as possible.

Anyway, when I saw the advisor, all I remember is that she said that the colostrum harvesting needs to be at about 35/6 weeks and that we just sit in this room and she explains what I have to do and then I have a go. I guess it then gets frozen. She recommends it by hand, I think into a syringe but I might be making that bit up! She definitely said that it's not recommended to do it by pump as the colostrum just gets lost along the tubing and you don't get it all. To be honest, I was so not expecting to be able to do it I don't think I really took in what she was saying.

She was so nice, the infant feeding advisor, and said that she often sees women quite regularly prenatally. I just need to ring her and arrange to see her again. She works out of a surestart childrens centre.

When are you due? I'm so excited by the prospect of maybe being able to breastfeed. I have been reading up a bit this afternoon and it does look like there's a chance that I might not produce enough milk but anything's better than nothing. I was so convinced that it just wouldn't be an option. Woo hoo!!

anne74 Sun 05-Dec-10 22:02:32

Btw Reshape, in terms of what it looks like, it was a bit more milky on one side than the other but to be honest I was just so excited to see anything coming out at all I didn't really pay too much attention to what it was!!

Thanks so much for directing me to the other website. It had so much useful information on it that I hadn't come across before. Hopefully if and when I get my notes from the clinic I'll have a bit more information about what they actually did. The most encouraging thing I read was that the longer it has been since the surgery the better the chances are of regeneration of the ducts and nerve pathways so I might be in luck!!

Out of interest, given that they say that the colostrum is so important, if you leak before giving birth or express small amounts, does that detract from what will be available for the baby?

florilegia Mon 06-Dec-10 00:02:27

Due 23 February: not long to go! How about you? I'll definitely ask my MW about the harvesting: it sounds like a really good idea. I think you're right about the syringe: I've heard that pumping at this stage isn't a great idea, as the colostrum is so little that, even if you haven't had surgery, it pretty much just dampens the inside of the pump. Best of luck - it sounds as if you're doing really well already!

ReshapeWhileDamp Mon 06-Dec-10 00:04:03

SOunds like colostrum! Mine at the moment is milky from some ducts and clearer from others, no idea why! grin Seemed to work last time, though.

I ought to know (am trainee BFC) but don't, about making colostrum, but I'm pretty sure you can't 'squander' it before the baby arrives. A lot of women leak colostrum leading up to the birth and it doesn't make a difference. However, I'm embarassed to say I don't know if you make it, and that's it, or if you continue to produce it for those first few days while the baby's tiny. But I don't think it's an issue.

What I mean is, I think there should be plenty for your baby. BUT I need to check and my BFC books are in DS's room at the moment and he's asleep! I'll see if I can find out tomorrow.

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