Breastfeeding & Breast Cancer

October 23, 2012

Breastfeeding and Breast CancerThis year, it’s estimated that 226,870 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re answering many common questions about breast health and breastfeeding. It’s important that moms know how breastfeeding may reduce their risk of breast cancer and what other preventative steps they can take while breastfeeding. It’s also encouraging to know that many moms who have overcome breast cancer can still provide breast milk for their babies.

Can breastfeeding help reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Many studies have stated that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer, but in most cases the benefit is relative to how long you breastfeed. So, the longer you breastfeed, the more the risk is reduced.

Can I still get a mammogram while breastfeeding?
Yes, you can. It’s particularly important to continue to schedule your routine mammogram if your doctor or healthcare provider recommends it. Just make sure you empty your breasts thoroughly before going to your appointment to help make the results more clear and prevent leakage. While breastfeeding, lumps are common due to plugged ducts or other breast changes. Just make sure you know the warning signs of a suspicious lump. Typically, a concerning lump will be in a fixed position, stay the same or increase in size, and may cause the surrounding skin to pucker. Also, remember to continue doing routine at-home breast checks to look for lumps. Try checking your other breast while you’re feeding your little one.

Can I breastfeed after having breast cancer?
In many cases, it is still possible to breastfeed after breast cancer. If a mom struggles to establish supply, she should first work with a Lactation Consultant, then consider a specialty feeding device, like the Supplemental Nursing System. Some moms who have had a single mastectomy find it particularly empowering to be able to provide the best nutrition possible to their little ones. What amazing women!

To honor National Breast Cancer Awareness month, please share this post with other women in your life. Education and early detection are the best ways to overcome this terrible cancer.

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