Breastfeeding after Reduction. I’m finally throwing off the nursing cover.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week I thought that I would add my voice to the conversation. I figured since I wanted to get more up close and personal with the internet, why not start here. I will not be using a cover for this breastfeeding conversation so if you don’t want to read about me nursing my baby please use your god given right and ability to LOOK AWAY already.

This is not  your typical breast is best blog post. This will be an open letter to an internet friend that I should have met in real life. Months ago we said we would meet so I could tell her my story. She is going to give birth any day now,  we can’t really just pop over to the coffee shop anymore. So my audience is small and specific.

However, I think I can find a few more that may benefit from my story. It seems that on the few occasions I tell my story, people say “I have a friend that…” or “I didn’t know you could that.” I think that this story of a minority tribe of women who choose to breastfeed can help all women who choose to try. If I can do it…you can. Really. We’re talking BFAR here today. Breastfeeding after Reduction surgery.

When I was 19 I was, shall we say, large breasted. People from my high school that are cyberstalking me are doing the Bevis and Butthead “Booobies heh heh heh” laugh right now. I don’t care about them now. But in high school, I cared a lot. I spent all of high school and freshman year in college feeling like no one was ever looking me in the eye. The boys’ eyes were always cast downwards, always. To make matters worse I was a little bit of thing everywhere else and I had back problems. It all spelled misery to me. I spoke with my parents and they reluctantly agreed that I could have reduction surgery.

During the consultation the surgeon told me I most likely would not be able to breastfeed. I was 19. I did pause for a moment, but only that long. Fine I said. I’ll deal with that when the time comes. So off I went into the world with my new perfectly sized for me bubbies.

I never gave it another thought until I was about 4 months pregnant with my first baby – 16 years later. What have I done I thought? I read everything, as most first time pregnant folk do. All the books said it probably wouldn’t work. Most of the doctors and nurses said it probably wouldn’t work. My mom said it probably wouldn’t work.  I switched from an OBGYN to a midwife around 30 weeks. She took note of the reduction, contacted a lactation consultant, and said give it a try. My first ray of hope.

My first go at breastfeeding would not be considered a success by normal fully functioning ta-ta-ed women, but for me, it was a good start. Not that I realized it then, of course.

My first baby was born via c-section. I had a terrible recovery and post partum depression. The depression brought on in part from the tremendous nursing issues I was having. Nursing issues in part because of the tremendous guilt I felt for doing this to myself. I MADE this problem. There were lots of tears. My breasts and nipples were sore and bleeding. There were times that I was holding my screaming baby at the breast and did not want to feed him. It was awful. And yes, I supplemented, of course I did. And there was a hospital grade pump involved. I never managed to nurse him full time and we stopped at four months. Sigh.

I felt like a total failure. Which was cah-razy! Which part of “you most likely won’t be able to breastfeed” did you not understand young lady?

But you guys are getting what I’m saying here right?

I HAD MILK. My broken, self mutilated breasts produced milk for my baby! I was officially a BFAR mom with a success story.

With my second baby we turned down the crazy meter a bit, on the breastfeeding anyway. Because now I was concerned with a VBAC. (Yeah, pretty much tell me I can’t do something and I’ll keep at it until I do it.)

Riding high on my natural vaginal birth with my daughter, our start to nursing went a bit smoother. The nurses still insisted that I take formula home with me. The lactation consultant was wary. My husband looked nervous. I took some herbs and pumped a bit, but not as much as the first time. We made it to 8 months of half time nursing half time formula.

Third baby, second VBAC. He nursed like a champ from the very start. No one questioned that I would nurse him. All was well for 11 months. We were a half time formula half time nursing team! Then he self weaned. My goal was a year, but I’ll take it. It was incredible.

All of my babies lost more than 10% of their birth weight the first week. With the first two I abandoned nursing full time at this news and supplemented. With the third I kept on nursing and added formula – there is a slight but distinct difference.

BFAR moms should know certain things about breastfeeding. Whatever your success, even just trying and “failing” is your success. You tried. It didn’t work as you wanted. Please move on for your own sake and your baby’s. Expect the worst and hope for the best. In our case I think that planning to supplement is the best plan. Others would disagree with me and say that’s setting you up to fail. But I just think it’s realistic. Herbs DO work. Pumping does help. Each subsequent nursing relationship will be better than before. Nerves located in the breast and ducts can regenerate. Did you know that? Cool, right?

Every woman chooses a different path as a mother. None right, none wrong (well I mean some are totally wrong, but I digress). I do believe that breast is best, but I also give my babies formula. It took me 3 kids, 5 years, and lots of tears to get to that point. You might not want to take that path. So the whole breast vs. bottle? Please! Just love your baby.

Relax, breathe through it, take your time, keep at it, accept the outcomes, celebrate, express gratitude, move on. Really, I could be talking about anything. But that is the prcoess that worked best for me.

So to my BFAR ladies…It’s not easy, I’m not gonna lie. Just do your best and wherever that takes you is where you are – doing your best for your baby, scars and all :-)

 Want some tips to help your BFAR epxeriences? See this post!
(and yes I realize that all this talk of reduction makes this post super silly. whatevs.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Thank you. Thank you. A million thank yous. I have been fearful of “failure” but now? Just giving it a shot makes me successful. I guess we will start to find out within days.

    I’ll definitely need support in this journey, and knowing I have that from people like you is worth a whole lot.

  2. Thank you. I’m sitting here at 5:50 am nursing my beautiful 6 week old. Mornings are the only feeds I don’t seem to need supplements for and I love it. I had my reduction 6 years ago and CAN feed her, just not quite enough to fill her tummy. I’m on herbs and domparidone, I do compressions and pump and am exhausted. There have been way too many tears but I won’t give up. Any amount of breast milk is good and she’s at least getting some. You’re right, accept the outcome. It’s not about me, not about failing, it’s about loving my baby.

    • ViolaCay /

      Hi Sarah! Your comment makes me happy and sad all rolled up together. Sad that you sound a bit discouraged, but happy that you are pressing on. Middle of the night and morning feedings were always the best for me too. Sleep is a great replenisher for all kinds of things ;-).
      If you have any questions please ask away.
      I assume this is your first beautiful six week old? Congrats on her and your hard work to feed her. Be kind to YOU too.

      • Yes, this is my first :)
        She’s not putting on weight very quickly so it’s been a stressful 6 weeks. I’m trying to remember that supplementing is the best for her and her growth and in a years time, will it really matter that I couldn’t bf exclusively? It’s just hard to let go of my dream of nursing exclusively. I’m not sure why I’m struggling with it – I knew this was a likely outcome. I just hoped I’d be the exception!

        • ViolaCay /

          Yes, supplementing is the best for her growth from what you’re saying.
          Just defer the dream. If you have more babies, and have a simliar experience as me, it gets better with each little love.
          And if you don’t mind some advice. Nurse her every feeding. Offer her the breast first, then give her the bottle. Best of both worlds really. And ditch that evil pump ;-) Just nurse her with what you have and enjoy every moment. You can do this!

          • That’s the route we’ve been going- nurse then top up. I need to remind myself that she IS getting breast milk – all day!! I also need to let go of this stress, it’s certainly not helping me to enjoy the feedings. Some bfar can’t produce at all. I can :)
            Thank you! Only another bfar understands.

          • ViolaCay /

            “she IS getting breast milk – all day!!” :-)

            We are so lucky that we had any at all, many don’t or just don’t try assuming they won’t. Wasn’t that first sight of your milk amazing. I actually called my husband over and compressed some out. He was all, “Seriously?”. HA.

            I never even told anyone about my real struggle, just said I had low supply. Support is so important. It’s a weird little club we belong to isn’t it? I’m here for you mama.

          • I cried when I first fed her and said “I’m doing it! I can feed her!” It was, and is amazing still.
            Thanks for your words and support! Talking to others makes such a difference and keeps me pressing forward.

  3. Thank you so very much for this! I’ve been killing myself trying to EBF for 11 weeks and now have to start supplementing due to poor weight gain. I’m pumping every 2 hours, nursing in between and supplementing the rest. I have felt like such a failure. I only made it 8 weeks with my first and totally gave up so now I’m fighting harder then ever. Reading this is such a comfort and ease to my mind! I too can nurse middle of the night and first thing in the morning but struggle throughout the day and evenings. Again thank you thank you thank you!


  1. So I clicked a Facebook Ad and was pleasantly, um, uplifted | Viola Cay - […] thousands of bras. My boobs have been a 36DD, a 34C, a 32B, and really everything in between. Reduction…
  2. Secrets by Mary Lambert – my new bloggy anthem! | Viola Cay - […] thrown off the nursing cover, talked some more about my boobs, my grief, my parenting fails, and my parenting…
  3. BFAR – 5 things that helped me keep nursing | Viola Cay - […] But since you asked. Here’s the HOW of the whole BFAR thing… […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *