Women who have had double mastectomies aren’t able to breastfeed afterwards. This was the one part of the decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy that made me question whether or not I should do it – because of all the breastfeeding benefits for both baby and mom. In the end, I’m very happy with the decision I made, even though it means I won’t be able to breastfeed. My particular BRCA mutation (BRCA2) is known to activate during pregnancy, so the benefit of having a mastecomy before pregnancy definitely outweighed the risk for me, but it was still a tough choice. The melanoma part of my BRCA2 mutation has acted up during pregnancy (don’t worry, everything is ok), which has made me even more relieved I chose to have my ticking time bomb boobies removed and replaced with my lovely foobies before getting pregnant. I’m going to be writing separate posts soon about pregnancy and BRCA (including the pre-melanoma pregnancy drama).
In my last post, I talked about how it’s been difficult for me to find info about being pregnant after having a mastectomy. With everything available online, it’s been frustrating trying to find out if things I’ve been experiencing are mastectomy related or not. I’m hoping to blog about everything I find out, so that other women with similar questions have a resource.
Weeks 1-13 (First Trimester)
Very early on in the pregnancy (probably weeks 5-6), I had really weird pains in my back like I’d never felt before. I got permission from my IVF doctor to see a perinatal chiropractor, which helped a lot. He explained to me that my pain was actually referred pain from the chest. Basically, because I had a mastectomy, my nerves were sending sensations to my back instead of breast pain.
Around that same time, I had weird lightning like sensations that felt like they were from my nipples. I hadn’t had any sensations in my nipples since the mastectomy, so I think pregnancy activated something. Also, areas where there was a bit of breast tissue left like underneath the incision and under my arms were tender. If you’re curious how I still have nipples after a mastectomy, check that out here.
Starting around week 18, I’ve noticed some swelling where there must be a small amount of breast tissue remaining. The areas under the incisions and under my arms are a bit swollen. Other than those areas, my breasts/nipples haven’t changed at all during pregnancy.
Around week 20, I had some strange/annoying phantom pain in the areas where I had drains after my mastectomy. Luckily that phantom drain sensation only lasted a few days bc I never wanna deal with that effing drain pain again!
Recently (weeks 20-22), my back has been generally hurting a lot and I have that weird back pain again. The general back pain is par for the course with being pregnant and carrying around a big basketball tummy (plus my expanding hips and bootylicious butt – I don’t think my back was ready for this jelly), but that same weird pain I had early on is related to the mastectomy again. Once again, my chiropractor has helped me a lot, along with starting to do prenatal stretches (thanks to my hubby for suggesting this over to my stubborn self over and over until I finally listened).
Second trimester is also when we started the baby registry and the reality of not being able to breastfeed has kicked in a bit more, which has been a bit tough. I told the woman helping me with my registry that I’m not able to breastfeed, and she was super helpful in pointing out nursing items I could register for meant for bottle/formula feeding, and not making me feel judged for not breastfeeding. My friend, Elana, who was with me, also helped make me excited about the cool bottle feeding items we found. In addition to my friend Elana, I want to give a special shoutout to Maddy at Buy Buy Baby in Encinitas, CA for helping this part of registering (that I was a bit worried about) actually be really fun instead of a downer.
I hope this list is helpful! I’m going to be continuing blog about pregnancy after mastectomy throughout the rest of my pregnancy (126 days, but who’s counting), and beyond.