Out of curiosity

I don’t want the Family page to come off as me being a paranoid worrywart. Yep, I worry sometimes and the many “what-ifs” cross my mind, but 99% of the time I’m focused on being present and totally happy in this moment, instead of worried about the future. I definitely like to post some of my concerns on here because it’s my TMI-talk-about-everything page, and I really appreciate all of the advice and suggestions you’ve been able to give me, especially so many of you have been around the block before 🙂

Even though I’ve blogged about not being sure how to take care of the baby (and even though I’ve read a ton of books, I won’t know what works for our little family until she’s here), what types of things to register for, blah blah, there’s a deeper worry that I’ve had on my mind. Since I’ve had dreams about it for the past couple of nights, I figured I’d go ahead and blog about it.

I’m worried about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and many women choose not to, which is awesome, but it’s something that I’d certainly like to do if my body will enable me to.

However, with the surgery I had on my right breast, I’m wondering if it will make things more difficult.

Here’s the back story, which I’ve touched on briefly on the blog before:

[It’s kind of graphic in one part, so please skip this family post if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing]

About 7 years ago, they found a tumor in my right breast. Of course no one will know what caused it, but it was in debilitating pain throughout the night and eventually started bleeding along with the pain.

After a series of testing, specialists determined that I had a tumor the size of a grape in one of my ducts and that it would have to be removed. Of course, the doctors went over every possible scenario and the fact that it could be cancerous. It was a scary time for me, and all I could do was be positive and pray that things would be ok.

I had a fantastic surgeon (a woman from India, who came over and sweetly held my hand as the anesthesia started to kick in. The last thing I remember before the surgery is the fact that she was holding my hand), and she removed the tumor without damaging all of the ducts. The best news is that it was benign and they got all of it. I’m very thankful <3

At the time, the idea of breastfeeding never crossed my mind, since I still didn’t know when or how I would have children. [Throughout college, I really wanted to adopt more than anything.. an idea we still might explore in the future] But now that our little girl is on the way, I can’t help but wonder if my surgery will affect my ability to breastfeed. I know that for some women it’s no problem, and for others, it’s a challenge or not possible to breastfeed. My mom said that she never had a problem with it, but she also [thankfully] didn’t have anything affect her duct system.

Anyone who may have been in a similar situation with something that may have affected their ability to breastfeed? Is it possible to get enough out of one side if my right side doesn’t work? Any general breastfeeding advice or lessons learned?

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  1. Kate on September 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    So glad that it was benign!
    With breatfeeding, I always assumed it would be one of those things that I would just do without too much thinking about. Unfortunately for me, I wasnt able to continue bf’ing past 10 days. I felt guilty, like I had failed at something so natural to *most* women. My advice would be to try, get all the help you can (and there is a lot out there), but if at the end of the day, you are unable to bf, dont beat yourself up. You will bond the same with your wee baby, you will share lovely snuggly night feeds, they will grow the same and your lovely Pilot will be able to help with the feeds. I am Mum to a bouncing, thriving, energetic bottle fed 10 month old baby boy. I got over my guilt, and realised how silly I had been about it. Hindsight is wonderful huh?

  2. Morgan on September 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Wow, thank you for sharing that story, I’m glad your OK.
    I haven’t gone through that, but I can tell you it’s possible to nurse with one breast. I’ve never had even milk production (when I pumped I would get 5 oz. from the right breast to 1 oz. in the left breast). At around 6 months, Aaron began to reject the left breast. Maybe it was slower, I don’t know. I did whatever I could to increase the milk production on that side, but he just wanted to nurse from the right. Now, he is 11.5 months and has been exclusively breastfed the whole time. He only nurses from the right side, and it’s not a problem. The only problem is that I’m lopsided-nothing a little “chicken cutlet” in my bra can’t fix!
    That being said, I think breastfeeding is one of the most amazing experiences ever. Just relax about it, and hopefully you’ll be able to nurse without a problem. There are some fantastic lactation consultants out there, just use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

  3. Michelle @ Crazy*Running*Legs on September 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I haven’t read the through comments — did anyone recommend Kelly Mom to you? http://kellymom.com/ By far the BEST online BFing resource. It helped me get through nursing both of my babies.

    I have Raynaud’s and I had NO CLUE it would impact me when breastfeeding, but it did and it was PAINFUL. I think if I didn’t have that site and the support of lactation consultants I would have given up.

    That said – if doesn’t work it doesn’t define you as a parent. Many brilliant, athletic and beautiful people were fed formula when they were little. I feel like there is so much to be the BEST PARENT EVER – and really, you just need to focus on what’s best for your family. No pressure!!

    • Fitnessista on September 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      amen to that!
      and yes, someone recommended kelly mom earlier- i’ve been going through her earlier posts 🙂
      have a great day <3

  4. Jen @familyfoodfitnessandfun on September 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Wonderful news that it wasn’t a cancerous tumour!
    As far a breastfeeding goes, I really wanted to do it, but I quickly found out that I couldn’t produce enough milk. I only produced about 3 ounces, which is definitely not enough for a 2 month old. So I had to pump and then supplement with formula. At first, I felt so guilty. I had wanted breastfeeding to be perfect. And when it wasn’t, I was devastated. However, eventually I got over it and enjoyed bottle feeding my babies. My hubby could feed them too, which was really special 🙂 I think that it’s wonderful you want to breastfeed, but please don’t feel guilty if you can’t.

  5. Lindsay on September 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Gina, I don’t comment much on blogs anymore, but I really felt like I needed to reply after reading this 🙂 I did a post, http://loveofoats.com/2011/06/05/feeding-baby/, on my bf’ing experiences and I didn’t have a surgery like you did but I did have some difficulty with breastfeeding… I really had my hopes on breasfeeding so it was a bit of a shock that it didn’t work out exactly as I expected (despite reading books & taking a number of classes regarding breastfeeding)… I wound up having to pump (which only lasted 9 weeks unfortunately due to burn out) but I did not produce any milk out of one side as well and was still able to produce enough for half of her meals (had to supplement the other half with higher calorie formula due to underproduction issues & her small weight), so it is very much possible! But at the same time, if it doesn’t work out, I really feel like I have a much better bond with my daughter now with bottle feeding her than when I was trying to get her to latch on (and both her and I getting frustrated)… She is almost 9 months old now, very healthy, and is thriving… Plus I was a formula fed baby and I think I turned out ok haha… Also, like a few commenters posted, if it doesn’t work out the Pilot can get to feed baby too, which is a huge plus!! But I would definitely get the names of some lactation consultants at the hospital and talk to them for some advice to reassure you… Mine were a huge help and very encouraging in the beginning 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 26, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      lindsay! so great to hear from you! i hope you and your family have been doing well <3
      thank you so much for the tip. you're right, whatever needs to happen will happen, and i'm sure she'll turn out ok no matter what 🙂

  6. Jennifer R. on September 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I breastfed all 3 of my kids for over a year — it was wonderful! But I have to tell you, it was difficult at first — getting used to the latch and proper positioning. I would highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class at your local hospital — and have your hubby go too (mine did and it was very helpful to have his support and help those first few weeks). I would search out someone from La Leche League — they are the breastfeeding “experts” and would probably be able to answer your questions. My advice — keep at it and don’t get stressed (your milk production could decrease). And most of all — have fun and enjoy the wonderful bonding!!

  7. Bri on September 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I also had a similar experience. I went on to nurse both of my kids for 2 years. No problem. I was really worried something would not *work* correctly, but alas all was fine. Plus, since it was something int he duct, the worst that could happen is that one breast may produce slightly less than the other. And, you may find that regardless, your child will have a favorite side, and this may make you a little lopsided for a while. But, nursing was by far one of the best things I have ever done for my boys and myself.

  8. Samantha on September 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Gina !
    I haven’t read all these comments so if I’m saying what everyone else has already said you don’t have to read this. I used to work in the WIC office very recently until we moved and I needed to find a new job. One of the bigger parts of my job was to provide breastfeeding counseling and support to pregnant and post-partum moms. I had people that would rather die than give their babies formula and people who didn’t want to acknowledge that their breasts made milk. I found that breastfeeding really depended on how strongly a person felt about it, and their lifestyle, the support they had from family and friends, their mental state. some people would try for a while then switch to formula because they didn’t have the time or they didn’t like it, or it was too uncomfortable, and (despite BFing laws) had nowhere to pump when they went back to work, some were on a lot of meds and for them to be able to no suffer PP depression they couldn’t BF; whether a mom breastfeed, formula fed or combo fed, they were all good moms that only wanted the best for their baby. You’ll find what works for you. It’s hard for a lot of people in the beginning there are A TON ! of good resources out there to help :

    http://www.azbreastfeeding.org/#!vstc0=resources – this is for your area
    There are tons more!

    Talk it over with your midwife/or your instructor your taking classes with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask them all! They are there to help you. When you have the baby if you Breastfeed and you have problems call your professionals no matter what time of the day or if you just talked to they 10 minutes ago.
    You are going to be a great mom no matter what you decide to do!

    • Tori on September 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Yay for WIC! During my internship before becoming an RD, I had to intern at WIC and I gained SO much respect for those who work there. Y’all are awesome! 🙂

  9. Angela @ PattycakesnPancakes on September 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Gina,
    I was unaware of the surgery you had but thank you for sharing it with us. I had stage 2 triple negative breast cancer in my right breast in 2009. I had surgeries and they found it in my lymph nodes as well so they removed 20 of them which led to much difficulty in using my right arm. I went through rehab, chemotherapy, and radiation. I got pregnant miraculously a year later and asked my doctors if I was going to be able to breastfeed. They were all unsure. When my little bundle of joy arrived I tried everything. He would latch on perfectly but my right breast wouldn’t cooperate. I tried only using my left but it just wouldnt keep up with his growing appetite. I supplemented him with Formula and bottle fed him what I pumped. I was very upset with my body for not being able to provide for him but soon realized that I was being way too hard on myself. My body produced a healthy beautiful baby boy and the bond we have could not be stronger. In my opinion, it’s great for you to try. If it works than that’s fantastic but if it doesn’t, it’s okay too. Just don’t get down on yourself like I did. Enjoy every moment because they grow so fast. My baby is almost 6 months old and he’s healthy and super happy. You are already a wonderful mother. You can bond with or without breastfeeding. Xxoo

  10. Brandalyn on September 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I never had any medical condition, but for what ever reason I did not produce enough milk. Which I had no idea was going to happen. I had planed on breast feeding. I talked with my dr and pediatrition and they s aid there were teas and supplements could try but they didn’t work for me. I would suggest being ready if you have to use formula.

  11. Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) on September 27, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I’m sure your doctor would have some insight into whether your surgery would inhibit your ability to feed from the right breast, but from what you described, it doesn’t sound like it would cause any issue.
    I’m on day 11 of breastfeeding and let me tell you, even if all your equipment works (Hailey is a great latcher and I have a ton of milk), it isn’t easy. It’s challenging and painful, but (for me) incredibly rewarding.
    I only read 1 book (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) before she arrived and I’m glad I didn’t stress myself out too much about it. The lactation consultants and nurses were incredibly helpful to me and only 5 days after she was born, she surpassed her birth weight!
    Good luck- I’m sure you’ll do great 🙂

  12. Steph on September 27, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I had a small benign growth removed from my right breast back in 2001. In 2010 I gave birth to my first son and had no problems from that surgery with breastfeeding. Now, that isn’t to say it wasn’t hard. I got plugged milk ducts about every 4 days (so painful!!) and got so raw from his little gums that it was like going through labor again. It can be a frustrating learning curve, so I would most definitely say get lots of help and advice from a lactation consultant. But I am sooo glad I stuck it out. My son it now 17 months and I still nurse him at night and actually enjoy it. After a while it WILL get easier and you won’t even feel it anymore. If it’s really important to you, try to stick with it and give it a chance. I hope the surgery doesn’t cause any problems for you; it didn’t for me. =)

  13. Ana on September 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

    All the comments to this post are great! Definitely don’t put pressure on yourself Gina, you are already doing everything you can to give this baby the best she deserves, and when it comes time to breastfeed things will go the way it is supposed to be. What I always tell my friends is that when it comes to babies the plan is that “there is no plan”! Let your body and your baby show you what is best and how things will work for you two!
    With that being said, I would add that it is possible feed your baby from one breast alone. I have a colleague who had surgery in her breasts and on one of them she got an infection and lost the nipple. When she got pregnant with her second child, she did produce milk on both breasts, but due to no duct to express the milk on one side she was only able to feed on the second side. She fed her baby for a little bit and then for some reason he didn’t want her breast anymore. She was super sad because she was still producing milk on one side and she really want to breastfeed, she didn’t want to look that precious milk. Then one of her closest friends had a baby and for some reason wasn’t able to produce milk at all, so my friend actually fed her breast milk to her friend’s baby from that one breast (hope this is not weird for you – I am from Brazil and there is is commom to help a relative or close friends in situations like this).
    Definitely don’t worry, don’t stress over this right now. Your body knows what it is capable of doing. Having a baby is such a natural process, our bodies are in synch with the baby and everything that is going on, so when times come things will lead you to do things just the way nature intended!
    Hope this helps and enjoy your pregnancy, this is a magical and wonderful moment! I loved being pregnant with my son, feeling the baby in the belly is one of the best feelings ever!

  14. Karen Carloni on September 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    There is a contraption called a SNS (supplemental nursing system) that basically is a little tube that provides formula along with whatever breast milk you produce and assists in increasing milk production, keeps “nipple confusion” out of the picture and keep baby gaining weight IF there is an issue. There may not even be an issue. I recommend that you speak to the lactation consultant at the hospital right away and that you see her a few weeks into breastfeeding again and see how it is going. Some pediatricians will allow you to come in and use their scale between appointments – ASK. If not, lactation consultation practices will. Remember – the amount you pump IS NOT the same as the amount baby gets while nursing. Usually they recommend that you weigh baby, nurse baby and weigh again to get a better a idea. Anyway, whether baby ends up being breastfed exclusively or not is not nearly as important as the love you will be giving her. It will be ok. I have breastfed 4 kids – one was supplemented with formula (the first one) and it was primarily because I did the young, first time Mom freak out and didn’t have much support. After that it was much easier. Also, La Leche League probably has meetings in your area and they can be very helpful also.

  15. Karen on September 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I am commenting to let you know that I was able to nurse both my children successfully from only one breast. The other had an inverted nipple; both babies were born a month early and were too tiny to latch onto the inverted nipple. I tried various products that were supposed to help the situation and none of them worked. I did not need to supplement with formula. Both of them are healthy at the ages of 25 and 23!

    Breastfeeding can be difficult and challenging at times, but is so worth it!

    Persevere and ask for help if you need it.

    All the best to the 3 of you : )

  16. Mama Laughlin on September 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Sorry to hear about your surgery, but glad everything is alright now.
    I had a breast augmentation in 2005 (selfishly) and wasn’t thinking about breastfeeding at the time at all.
    With my first son, I didn’t produce enough, so I only breastfed for 6 weeks (that’s including supplementing as well).
    I don’t know if it had anything to do with my implants or not. I am due in 6 weeks with #2 and will be trying again to see if I get different results.
    Good luck! Breastfeeding is NOT easy. It doesn’t come natural to most women and most women need help to do it for extended periods of time. But if you can do it, more power to you!

  17. Kathy on September 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    My sister had a small, malignant lump removed from one breast when she was 25. And she also had radiation therapy. So she has never been able to breastfeed on that side, only on the unaffected one. She ended up having 3 boys, all of whom have been at the top of their size ranges their whole lives (their Dad is 6’5″). She was able to feed 3 thriving boys with only one side working. So if that happens, your little nuggette will be healthy and strong!!

  18. Maddy on September 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Soooo happy to hear everything turned out OK and very sorry to hear you went through that. I think it varies, but I’m no expert. Can you contact the surgeon and ask your OB if you haven’t already? Maybe there is a lactation expert who has experience working with others who had a similar surgery?

    I have a piece of random advice-if you don’t like the lactation expert you get after giving birth, ask for someone else and be specific about what approach helps you. I waited until the last day to do this and wish I had done it earlier. My first one was overbearing and overly opinionated and I could not stand her. Second was like a ray of sunshine. I was only able to breast feed for a few months. Even if you can only do it a little from one side, you should feel good about it. They call the initial stuff that comes out “liquid gold” (colostrum perhaps?) because it has so many great things in it.

    Now I will be contraversial and I don’t want to start up the debate or offend. It is not tragic if you can’t breastfeed. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty. Yes, breastmilk is amazing and the best stuff, but they are constantly improving formula and there’s great stuff in there too. I have done a large informal “study” of friends, relatives, etc and I don’t see that those who were breastfed are better off. Every kid I know with severe food allergies was breastfed. I don’t see a difference in growth, health, or intelligence between those who got breastmilk vs those who didn’t. The people I know who are obese were all breastfed too, so my tiny sample “research” did not support the mega research all the lactation consultants report. Not saying breastfeeding causes problems, but just saying I am suspicious of all the research that makes us fear our kids will be illiterate, unhealthy, severely obese, emotionally unbalanced and school drop outs if we don’t. (I was a exagerrating, but you get my point).

    • Maddy on September 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      The more I think about it…PLEASE delete my post after you read it. I don’t want to offend anyone who feels breastmilk is the only way to go and I don’t want to stir up the breast is best debate. Your readers are all too respectful and levelheaded to start anything, but you never know who is trolling about the net and the debate came up sooo many times on forums and in parenting magazines in the past. I don’t want to ignite anything.

      My message is just-you can and will be an amazing mother whether or not you choose to or are able to breastfeed.

      • Fitnessista on September 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

        are you sure you want me to delete it? i don’t think your comment would offend anyone.

  19. Brenda on September 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    My advice is just try it and I’m sure you can get enough milk out of one breast, although you might end up looking lop-sided when you’re engorged and full of milk on one side but if they didn’t damage all your ducts you should be able to breastfeed just fine. There’s a tea that I just bought that is suppose to help u produce milk it’s organic and it’s called mother’s milk, I got it at wal-mart and I’m definitely gonna use it when my little man is born, in 4 weeks! Good luck and may God bless you and your little family 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      thank you, brenda! and congrats to you- i’m so excited you have 4 weeks left!! SO SOON 🙂

  20. Lauren on September 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I have crohns disease and I was totally worried about being able to make milk and being sick and having to run to the bathroom with the baby on my breast (which has happened, sorry tmi). anyway, I have no problems at all,I am a mike machine and believe me, you will be too! We all worry about this stuff before having a baby and rightfully so! I read that people with breast implants can nurse, so you shouldn’t have an issue!

  21. mary on September 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I have a breast problem but my doc said the other breast would just produce more, in all likelihood. But I chose to not BF.
    I have three older sisters that all couldn’t do it. They advised me to skip the frustration of having a newborn and having no idea if she’s eating or how much.
    And I wanted my body back, selfish as that is. Not my figure but I wanted to be able to drink what I wanted, etc.
    And I wanted her dad to have less excuse to help with night feedings.
    And I had a job as a professional woman and pumping at the office sounded horrible.
    I was no foodie or health nut at the time.

  22. April on September 28, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I never had any problems before I had my baby, but he’s 18 months now and still nursing. In the beginning, we had a couple major problems: he was fussy for the first six or so weeks and then we realized he was tongue-tied, so once that was resolved he was a completely different baby. (This is more common in boys than in girls, though). Because of the fact that he wasn’t nursing as thoroughly as he should have been in the beginning, I got mastitis. I ended up having it 3 times, so I had to stop nursing for a few days overall. The midwife suggested that some people are more susceptible to getting it than others, and I WAS a size DD so I had to nurse doing the “football” hold, which they also told me was a possible contributor to the slow flow of the milk. HOWEVER, having said that, the best advice I got was from another mother who had used Mother’s Milk Tea. If you are sore or you suspect you have low milk supply, this will boost it and open up the ducts. At least, it definitely helped in my case, and I never had another problem. It’s an herbal tea from Traditional Medicinals, so check it out! I love every minute of breastfeeding and I sincerely hope it works out for you. Good luck!

  23. Kelli on September 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I was nervous about breastfeeding because breasts are sexual so I was kind of embarrassed about it. Something magical happens when I fed my first daughter, and I felt so maternal and happy that I could feed her and hold her and look at her- so sweet. It forced me to sit down and hold her for long periods of time, which helps with bonding and healing. It also helps your uterus contract and go back to it’s original size, something that I think would happen whether your baby was getting adaquit milk from you or not. I can’t say that you might not get frustrated if it does not work, but if it does work I can promise you that you’ll never regret breastfeeding. All of those people that told me that kids grow up fast are sooo right. You’ll feel like you will never be done with all the work it takes to be a mom, especially in the baby stage, and then you’ll blink and they’ll be teenagers. In our rich country, breastfeeding is an option. And I am glad we have that option in case you can’t produce milk. But give it a try. My husband knew me well enough that when I didn’t know if I could nurse any longer ( it hurt for a while) he could tell if I just needed him to root me on or if I really couldn’t. When you are overflowing with hormones, it is so great to have a wonderful husband to help you wade through it all. I hope this helps in some small way.

  24. Lyndsay on September 29, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Breastfeeding is tough at the beginning, but you absolutely can bf on just one side and it be enough. Your body produces milk in the supply and demand sort of way. I don’t know what that will mean for the first week or two while your body is adjusting (they MAY encourage supplementing for a bit). It wouldn’t hurt to start a conversation early with a lactation consultant at the hospital where you will be delivering. That would ease your worries a lot, I bet. 🙂

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