Breastfeeding after treatment

Your cancer doctor, nurse and midwife will give you advice about breastfeeding. It usually depends on where you are with your treatment plan.


Chemotherapy

If chemotherapy stops some weeks before your baby is born and you do not need other treatment, you may be able to breastfeed straightaway. Your midwife will give you lots of support and advice.

If you are still having chemotherapy, your doctor or nurse will advise you not to breastfeed. This is because the drugs could be passed to your baby through breast milk. If you are not having other treatment after chemotherapy, you could think about expressing milk. You will not be able to keep it for your baby, but expressing milk means you will still be producing milk when chemotherapy finishes. You can then start to breastfeed.

Other drugs

Targeted therapy drugs or hormonal drugs can be passed to your baby through breast milk. Your doctor will advise you not to breastfeed while you are having these drugs.

Radiotherapy

If you have had radiotherapy to the breast or chest you may not produce enough milk in that breast. You can still breastfeed from the other (non-treated) breast.

It is usually safe to continue breastfeeding if you are having radiotherapy to other areas of the body away from your chest.

Donor breast milk

Some hospitals provide donated breast milk for babies born prematurely if the mother does not have enough of their own breast milk. The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB) is a registered charity that supports milk banking in the UK. There are strict procedures to make sure donor breastmilk is safe.

Two weeks after my baby was born I continued chemotherapy. It was hard looking after a baby during treatment, but my mum was a great help.

Polly