Most mothers have heard the phrase "breast is best". Studies show that there are essential nutrients in breast milk that can greatly aid in infant growth and development
. The mother's breast milk also passes along antibodies from the mother to the baby, helping strengthen the baby's immune system. However, more mothers are choosing not to breastfeed, either by choice or due to low milk supply.
When it comes to breastfeeding
, the frequency of nursing the child, hormones in the mother, proper latching on of the baby, in addition to the physical parts of the breast can all impact the ability to breastfeed properly. So how does milk production actually work? During pregnancy, hormones start to produce colostrum, the first form of milk. There are high levels of a hormone called progesterone in the woman's body at this time that inhibit milk secretion. After the baby is born, the levels of progesterone decrease dramatically, causing a mother's milk to start coming into the breast. This is the point where the process of milk production stops being caused by hormones, and starts operating on a supply and demand basis. In other words, when the baby nurses, the milk in the breast gets emptied. The empty breast will then produce more milk to fill itself again. The more often a breast is emptied, the larger the quantity of milk that will be produced.
If a child is unable to latch on properly, the breast will not receive enough stimulation to produce milk. Sometimes mothers on a hormonal form of contraception, such as the pill, will have a lower milk supply due to the extra hormones in the body. Even a diet can influence milk production. Mothers who plan to breastfeed should try to avoid large quantities of certain spices, such as sage, parsley and thyme, as these can lower milk production as well.
One final cause of low milk supply is due to breast augmentation
. According to the Institute of Medicine, low milk production is three times more likely to occur after breast surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons stated that over 296,203 women had breast augmentation surgery in 2010. Three studies were conducted in different areas of the country with women who had surgery compared to women who didn't. All three studies showed that women who had breast augmentation in which a periareolar incision was made, had an insufficient milk supply. Another possible result of the surgery could be that the implant, by putting extra pressure on the tissue, could in fact damage the breast tissue, which would result in a low milk supply. Whether from the implant itself or the incision around the nipple, breast augmentation surgery was still the underlying result of the inability to breastfeed.
If any problems occur when trying to breastfeed, it is best to consult a doctor or lactation specialist. They may be able to help. A plastic surgeon
should also be consulted when trying to breastfeed after surgery. Have you had any problems with breastfeeding?If you've had an augmentation, did you have any difficulties? Any advice you can offer others?