I couldn’t breastfeed my babies.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing my story about why I couldn’t breastfeed — and the decision I made that caused me to be unable to nurse my children.

“Bombs away!” 

I’ll never forget these words. That was what I would hear while walking down the halls of my high school. Why? Because I was a junior in high school with a DDD boob and an E boob. Of course, not only were my breasts huge, they were not even equal. After “developing” very quickly during my sophomore and junior years of high school, I had not only caught up to the other girls in school, I’d surpassed them. I could no longer wear just one sports bra, shop for cute bras with my friends, or stand for long periods of time without my upper back hurting. 

Breast reduction?

During my senior year of high school — after enduring the physical and mental pain of my large and uneven “girls” — it was time for a change. After consulting with a surgeon, I was scheduled to have a breast reduction during April vacation of my senior year. At 17 years old, I was voluntarily going under the knife to change my life. 

The risks

Of course I knew the risks of surgery. Like any surgery, there were risks of infection, swelling, or even death. But, there was an added risk that other surgeries don’t have, and I remember the words exactly as my surgeon said them: “Due to the surgery and the way your incisions will be, you MAY not be able to breastfeed. There is no guarantee, but this is a possibility.”

Breastfeed? What? Why is she talking to me about breastfeeding? I am only 17. I need to have these things smaller and will do whatever it costs to do it. I am so unhappy with them. 


I remember waking up in pain, then after leaving the recovery room heading to the pediatrics floor of Newton Wellesley Hospital — because I was still a child. My mom stayed overnight with me at the hospital — I was still her baby, having major surgery. 

I was feeling pretty good after a few days and even ventured out of the house (with gauze around my incisions and special bra on) to visit with my friends that week. I couldn’t stay out too long before I had to get home and change my dressing and take more pain meds. But that first day out with my friends in a normal shirt — without the weight I had been carrying around — felt amazing! 


Approximately 13 years after my breast reduction, I had my first child. Throughout my pregnancy, my OB and I had many conversations about breastfeeding and what my chances were of being able to do it. Since I had had my surgery 13 years prior, and the incisions I had were pretty extensive, there wasn’t much hope that I would be able to breastfeed once my son was born. But, hey, I would give it a try! 


Was I able to breastfeed? Yes. Was I able to give my son enough breastmilk to nourish him? No. In the hospital, I was breastfeeding, supplementing (with a syringe), then pumping for each feed. It was a two-hour process, every two hours. Each time I pumped, I ended up with less than an ounce of milk. (And yes, I totally agree, it is liquid gold.) So I was only pumping six ounces a day — if that. And my son needed WAY more. Clearly, my boobs had failed me and my son. 


Do I have any? Absolutely not! As a 17-year-old, I made an extremely important decision and one that I would make again if I had to. I was so unhappy each day dealing with my huge boobs, and after having the surgery I felt a sense of relief — a relief that can’t be explained. A relief that my formula-fed sons have not suffered from. I have two very healthy and happy little boys and know that if I had not made the decision to have that breast reduction, I probably would not be a healthy and happy mama for them.

Krystal Avila
Krystal is a Massachusetts native who grew up in the 'burbs and is now loving the city life in Roslindale with her husband and 3 boys (9, 6, and 1). She and her husband met downtown working at a restaurant together, and since then their love of restaurants has kept their date nights exciting as they try out the latest places. Learning Spanish has been something Krystal has loved ever since middle school, and that has become her passion as a Spanish teacher, wife to a Salvadoran, and mother raising her children bilingual. Loves: family, friends, playing with her kids, a comfy hoodie on the beach when the sun goes down, nachos, baking, Christmas movies. Not so much: loud music, putting away laundry, terrible threes, and black pepper.