Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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A: Yes. As early as 16 weeks gestation, your body starts to produce colostrum; this is the earliest form of breast milk, and it’s brimming with anti-infective properties to protect your baby right from birth. Some women do leak small amounts during pregnancy, but it’s not something you should worry about. “There’s not a finite amount of colostrum,” says Nancy Wight, M.D., a board-certified lactation consultant, neonatologist and director of lactation services at Sharp Mary Birch hospital for Women & Newborns in San Diego. “Your body will continue to produce it after your baby is born.”
A: Common wisdom used to be that breasts of any size are capable of producing ample milk. But research shows that, while that’s mostly true, certain breasts may have problems—particularly if they don’t enlarge much during pregnancy, as ample growth typically indicates that the milk ducts and glands are multiplying and growing. “Most women, even those with small breasts, will notice significant breast enlargement during pregnancy and have no problems nursing,” says Neifert.
If you do have small breasts that don’t enlarge significantly while you’re pregnant, see a lactation consultant before you have the baby so you can prepare for potential issues. For instance, Neifert says, small breasts may not store as much milk as larger ones, so it may be necessary to nurse more often.
A: “We see many mothers who have had breast surgery and breastfeed without any issues, but breast surgery of any kind is a potential threat to nursing,” says lactation consultant Wendy Haldeman, I.B.C.L.C., co-owner of the Pump Station, a breastfeeding resource and retail store with three locations in Southern California.
According to Haldeman, factors that could affect breastfeeding include the type of breast surgery a woman has had, the location of the incisions, the number of surgeries and when the last surgery occurred.
If you have any questions about your ability to nurse a baby, get a prenatal breast exam. Your OB may be able to do this; if not, visit a certified lactation consultant. Some conditions, such as previous breast surgeries, might affect your ability to nurse successfully. If so, you’ll want to know now, rather than later, so you and your lactation consultant can come up with an action plan.