Breastfeeding After Breast Cancer
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, you might wonder if you can breastfeed your baby if you are pregnant or wish to have more children in the future. First and foremost, whether to breastfeed is a profoundly personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some of us might not be comfortable nursing our baby after going through treatments, and some might have pain or scars preventing us from doing so.
Research suggests that nursing after breast cancer is possible for those who want to try breastfeeding. According to the American Cancer Society, in most cases, a breast cancer survivor can attempt to nurse her baby if she wants to. Although breast cancer cannot be passed on through breastfeeding, certain medications can. Always speak to your doctor before embarking on your breastfeeding journey.
The team at Pink Hub has put together some information we hope will be helpful:
- If you’ve had surgery:
- Breast cancer surgeries, either lumpectomies or mastectomies, change the anatomic structure of the breast. Milk is produced in small cells called the Alveoli, which cluster in the breast in the form of lobules. When the baby suckles on the breast, Oxytocin is released, which causes the Alveoli to contract, and milk is expressed through the milk ducts.
- Lumpectomies can interfere with the breast’s normal anatomy, and in unilateral mastectomy, breast milk production is left to the opposite side.
- Happily, a baby can be fully breastfed from only one side!
- If you are going through chemotherapy:
- Many medications can be transferred to the baby through breastfeeding. You will need to plan your breast feeding journey with your medical provider, regarding whether or not breastfeeding is safe for you and the baby.
- If you are receiving radiation treatment:
- According to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, radiation has the potential to damage lobules, causing them to stop making milk or change the appearance of breast milk.
- Luckily, there is no evidence that breastfeeding babies after radiation is hazardous.
Although breastfeeding may not be the best option for all mothers, and not feasible at every stage of your breast cancer journey, expecting parents should be aware that this is a possibility for people living with breast cancer. It is essential to be mindful of the potential challenges and risks associated with breastfeeding and to ensure that you and your doctor make the right decision for your body and your baby.
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