In June, 1999, I underwent a reduction mammaplasty to counteract the terrible back pain I had as a result of very large breasts. I was very satisfied with the results of the surgery, which reduced my breasts from a DDD cup to a generous B cup. I was a single mother of two boys, smack dab in the middle of my nursing education, and it looked like I would never remarry and certainly never have any more kids, so I didn’t give lactation much thought.
A few months after my surgery, I met the man who would become my husband, and three years later we were married and then—pregnant! I was concerned about my ability to breastfeed this baby because I not only had numbness to the sides of my breasts, I also had significant scarring. Dr. B. Jensen had done a good job cosmetically, but scarring is tied to genetics and I could feel the scar tissue right around my areola and into the dome of my breast on both sides. I was glad that I had at least nursed Nate and Brodie, for 22 and 24 months, respectively, but I felt I wanted to do the same for ANY child I would have. I would hate to nurse some, and leave the others to bottlefeed!
After Asher was born, a healthy 9 lb. 4 ounce boy, I demand-fed him just as I had the others. I was experienced, and he had an excellent latch. I had been encouraged by having had breast soreness during my first trimester, but no colostrum was evident when I tried to express it, so I just kept plugging away. Asher did lose quite a bit of weight by the third day postpartum, and we supplemented with several ounces of formula per day at our pediatrician’s advice, always after he had nursed at my breasts for at least a half hour. Finally, on the fifth day postpartum, my milk came in. What a relief! My breasts and nipples were very sore--Asher’s nutritive sucking was loosening the scar tissue and breaking down adhesions that had been present for years. This soreness continued for two or three weeks before gradually disappearing, but it was worth it to be able to nurse my baby without having to supplement!
I nursed Asher exclusively for five months, and when I went back to work my milk supply did go down, mainly as a result of not being allowed enough time to express my milk, so we fed him a combination of breast milk and formula. However, I still nursed him at home and any time I was with him. Asher gradually weaned himself when he was about 17 months old, and is as happy and healthy a toddler as ever you’d wish to see. I am so glad that I breastfed him and gave him all the advantages I gave my other children! If I have learned anything at all from this, it is to keep on trying.