Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction - A Memoir

A few months ago, we sent out a Call for Breastfeeding Stories.  Our desire was to flood the Internet with beautiful breastfeeding stories of triumph, overcoming challenges and struggles, and positive outcomes, regardless of the total amount of milk a mom was producing.  We are thrilled to share these stories with you, our readers, and hope that they offer support and inspiration for you, wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey. 

Thank you to all of the mothers who submitted their stories!  If after you read these memoirs you are inspired to submit your story, feel free to send it to RobinKaplan@sdbfc.com.    

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This breastfeeding memoir is from Jenna.

Ten years ago, eighteen-year-old Jenna was bouncing between San Diego and Los Angeles counties looking for a plastic surgeon. They had to be willing to do a keyhole incision and leave my nipple attached while they performed a bilateral breast reduction. I was a senior in high school and had my breast reduction surgery during spring break. 

Fast forward six years. I find out I'm pregnant the day my boyfriend gets to Djibouti, Africa, where he'll be deployed for the next 7 months. I sought out a natural birth provider in my network after reading the book, Defining your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery by Diana West. In this book, it encouraged mothers to birth as naturally as possible for the best chance at breastfeeding after a reduction and this book had become like a Bible for me, so I followed its every recommendation. After finding midwives, a doula and a baby-friendly hospital, I looked for an IBCLC and a Breastfeeding 101 class. I knew I needed to be prepared or I would succumb to all of the "boobie traps" within the first few days. My daughter was born on the much later end of normal, well past 42 weeks, was 9lbs 11oz at birth, and was born with a tongue tie and upper lip tie. I was given hell at the hospital for not wanting to give her formula, after requesting several times to be seen by the in-house IBCLC. The nurses and pediatricians said they'd never seen a mother be able to exclusively breastfeed after a reduction and feared that I wouldn't feed my baby because of my determination to nurse. 

At 6 weeks old, my daughter was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies making even allergen-free, prescription-only formula not an option. The first six weeks I pumped after every feeding.  My husband spoon-fed, finger-fed, syringe-fed, cup-fed, & I used an SNS. At our 2 month pediatrician appointment, our doctor told me to quit trying and that what we were doing wasn't sustainable. I sought out chiropractic care, craniosacral therapy, multiple tongue tie revisions, continuous IBCLC care, breastfeeding support groups, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture, removed all allergens from my diet, quit my job, and somehow decided, breastfeeding was worth it all. From eight weeks old, we exclusively nursed through recurring tongue ties, vasospasms, low milk supply, mastitis, severe food allergies, thrush, and an abscess, for over 3 years, through a pregnancy and tandem nursing for a year and a half. Her younger sister is 28 months and we don't see an end in sight. 

Jenna's breastfeeding photo.jpg