Breastfeeding may be beneficial for the health of both the infant and the mother. Research indicates that even a minimal amount of breastfeeding may decrease a woman’s risk of breast cancer by about 30%.
Breast cancer occurs in about 1 in 3,000 pregnancies. It’s the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer during pregnancy, after birth while breastfeeding, or within a year of delivery.
Diagnosing breast cancer during pregnancy or while a mother is lactating may be difficult because symptoms of breast cancer are often similar to those caused by nursing or inflamed breast tissue, including pain, redness and masses.
Can you breastfeed with breast cancer?
If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer while nursing, most physicians recommend that they stop breastfeeding. The good news is that breast cancer doesn’t harm an unborn baby. Though cancer can’t be passed to a baby, some of the treatments or medicines used to treat breast cancer conditions may be harmful to a nursing baby.
Chemotherapies, hormone therapies, and anesthesia administered during breast cancer treatments may be passed to a baby through breast milk.
If surgery is needed, a doctor may recommend that breastfeeding be stopped. Ceasing to breastfeed may decrease blood flow to the breasts, making them smaller and easier to examine by a doctor.
Breastfeeding after surgery or radiation therapy is possible. Cancer treatments may decrease milk supply to the breast, but milk should still be able to be produced. If you want to breastfeed with breast cancer, talk to your doctor. They will tell you whether breastfeeding is safe based on the kind of treatment you’re getting.
Remember that common breast cancer symptoms to look for include: