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Can all women breastfeed? My mum says she wasn't able to.

The majority of women are physically capable of breastfeeding. Some women want to breastfeed, others do not. It is a personal choice. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Talk to other breastfeeding mothers, read books to familiarise yourself, and contact local breastfeeding support organisations and discuss it with your mother aswell as your midwife. The more you know about the process and the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby, the more likely you are to succeed.

You may find that the system of maternity care hindered your mother’s breastfeeding; there was a time when baby’s were removed to the nursery and brought four hourly to the mother. Now the benefits of skin to skin are known alongside baby led feeding and rooming in. Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to increase the length of time that women breastfeed for. All these things help establish and promote breastfeeding. Mothers and baby’s are rarely separated in hospital making the success of breastfeeding much more likely.

Pregnancy prepares your body to breastfeed. That's one reason your breasts grow, as your milk ducts and milk-producing cells develop, and more blood goes to your breasts. Breast size has nothing to do with the ability to breastfeed. Most of the difference in breast size between non-pregnant women is down to the different amount of fat in the breasts. Breast surgery may affect lactation and breastfeeding. Even after the most invasive surgeries, it is possible that some portion of the original glands and ducts remain intact. Breast reduction surgeries that least affect breastfeeding are those in which the areolas and nipples were not severed, even though they may have been moved. Similarly, breast augmentation surgeries that result in the best lactation outcomes are those where the incision for the implant did not sever the nerves near the areola. Implants placed under the muscle tend to result in better lactation outcomes than those placed over the muscle.

So hopefully you will feel confident enough to give breastfeeding a try. It does not suit every mother and baby but if it works out it is a fantastic experience for both of you.

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