Is breastfeeding still possible?

L’allaitement, est-ce toujours possible ?

In this podcast, Carole Hervé talks to us about breastfeeding and the difficulties it can present. What advice should you adopt post-partum to ensure successful breastfeeding, how can you get help and where can you find answers to your questions? Carole tells us all about it today! To help you through the postpartum period, you can discover our period pants and our Adèle bra, specially designed for the occasion!

What do you need to know about breastfeeding?

First and foremost, breastfeeding is something a mother wants for her baby. It's a personal choice. To get started and make the most of breastfeeding, it's essential to have access to the information you need, and to be surrounded by a network of supportive people. This applies to health professionals as well as those close to you, such as family and friends. Finally, breastfeeding can be a long and sometimes difficult process. All women can breastfeed (except in specific cases, which we'll talk about later).

Is it possible to never successfully breastfeed?

In theory, all women are physically able to breastfeed, and have been since prehistoric times.

But in some cases, and particularly in the case of certain childhood pathologies such as galactosemia, it can be much more complicated.

What is galactosemia?

Galactosemia is a childhood pathology that occurs as soon as galactose (milk sugar) is ingested. It is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme activity required for carbohydrate metabolism. In the case of this pathology, an adapted diet must be given to the infant. Babies suffering from galactosemia show no symptoms until they ingest galactose. From then on, symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, growth problems and jaundice appear.

Other illnesses, such as cancer, can prevent breastfeeding. Women who have undergone a double mastectomy will unfortunately be unable to breastfeed.

This is also the case for patients with developmental defects such as insufficient glandular tissue or hypoplasia of the mammary gland.

Finally, women who have undergone breast reduction or breast augmentation surgery may experience difficulties when it comes to breastfeeding (depending on the type of surgery performed). Breast-feeding is not impossible, but partial or mixed breast-feeding may be recommended.

Is it possible to breastfeed with a breast prosthesis?

Breast prostheses generally do not prevent breastfeeding. But it all depends on how they are fitted. There are several ways of fitting breast implants, either behind the mammary gland, or under the pectoralis major muscle (in cases where the mammary gland is not sufficiently developed to cover the breast implant). These two positions have no impact on breastfeeding, and do not interfere with milk supply, since the implants are not located in the mammary gland. There may, however, be some complications in terms of breastfeeding, if the implants have been placed through an incision close to the nipple. This can potentially impair milk transport, or cause hypersensitivity or insensitivity of the nipple, which disrupts breastfeeding.

But don't worry, breast augmentation is very conservative, and many women who wear breast implants breastfeed with no more problems than women without implants.

How do I manage painful breastfeeding?

First of all, it's important to remember that breastfeeding pain is a symptom. Pain can be caused by any number of factors.

It's possible and normal to experience heightened sensitivity in the days following childbirth and when your milk comes in. However, it is not normal to feel pain after a few days or weeks of breastfeeding.

Most of the time, sore nipples are the result of :

  • either a poor breastfeeding position
  • or poor suckling by the baby, which may be due to a tongue-tie that's too short, for example.

Both these causes can lead to cracks that are painful for the mother.

Nevertheless, as mentioned above, there are many causes. There are also :

  • engorgement, i.e. stagnation of milk in the milk ducts

There may also be residual tension that prevents the baby from opening his mouth properly, especially if he was born with instruments.

  • thrush, i.e. candidiasis, an infection that causes the mother's nipples to become crusty and bright pink, with burning, irritation, itching and bright-pink nipples. In babies, thrush will manifest itself as white patches in the mouth.
  • In the case of candidiasis, both mother and child should be treated, even if only one is showing symptoms. It is perfectly possible to continue breast-feeding, and the pain can be reduced in one or two days.

There are many causes of pain, but in no case is pain "normal" or even "inevitable".

What can you do if you can't breastfeed? How can you successfully breastfeed?

As we said earlier, pain is not inevitable. Some women realize that a breast pump doesn't hurt, but breastfeeding does. In this case, the causes of bacterial infection, nipple fungus, etc. are eliminated. If you want to breastfeed successfully, you need to know what's causing the pain in the first place.

In addition to the pain andbreastfeeding difficulties ofthe first few days, linked to the positioning of the baby or the mother during feedings, breastfeeding difficulties may be due to neuro-endocrine disorders that delay the onset of milk secretion.

If you encounter difficulties during your breastfeeding journey, don't hesitate to seek help and support from healthcare professionals, pediatricians or lactation consultants.

Pain is not normal, it's not inevitable, and you need to get help until you find a solution if breastfeeding is important to you.

What should I do if my baby refuses to breastfeed?

Sometimes, your baby may refuse the breast. This is called breast refusal.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Laryngitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • But also a child who has interpreted that his mother has too little milk.

What about reflux?

Of course, the majority of babies regurgitate, but most of the time this reflux is a normal, physiological phenomenon, destined to disappear after a while, particularly with the adoption of a sitting and then standing position. Babies regurgitate because the physiological mechanisms of gastric emptying are immature, and the cadria lacks tone.

But some babies will actually suffer from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a phenomenon that causes stomach contents to chronically back up into the esophagus. The esophagus can be irritated by contact with an acidic liquid, causing severe pain for the baby.

Breast milk is the first anti-reflux medication. Often, when a baby suffers from reflux, doctors suggest stopping breastfeeding and switching to thickened milk. To help relieve reflux, the use of a thickener can be a solution to help stomach contents stay in the stomach :).

Infants can also be treated with medication to relieve pain and help them sleep better!

Return from childbirth and reduced lactation: what are the consequences?

During breastfeeding, the body produces a hormone called prolactin, which helps maintain the production of breast milk after childbirth.

If you don't breastfeed, your prolactin levels return to normal two weeks after the baby's birth. Generally speaking, you'll be back in labor 1 month to 12 months after giving birth, depending on whether or not you're breastfeeding, and how often. Whether it's exclusive or not!

Many women experience a return to breastfeeding at the same time as they reduce the frequency of feedings, either by switching to mixed breastfeeding or diversifying their diet, or if they have decided to wean their baby.
Returning from diapers does not prevent you from continuing to breastfeed, only that milk production may drop.

All mothers who want to breastfeed can do so. Even if it's not innate and breastfeeding may be subject to certain injunctions. Bear in mind that breastfeeding is an apprenticeship for the mother, but above all for the baby, who on coming into the world discovers a whole new universe, quite different from the one he has lived in your womb for 9 months.

Some mothers get discouraged and end up stopping breastfeeding because the early stages can be so difficult. But don't worry, don't hesitate to ask for help!

Of course, each mother is free to breastfeed or not, for as long as she wishes. There are no rules to follow, each one does as she likes.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.