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Thread: Breastfeeding and Surgery

  1. #1

    Default Breastfeeding and Surgery

    I have a 10 week old baby that I breastfed (she does get formula for one feeding a day) and I am scheduled to have my gallbladder removed next week. The surgery will be done under general anesthesia and I will be sent home the same day. The anesthesiologist's nurse told me that I cannot nurse my baby for 24 hours after the surgery and the surgeon warned me that my milk could dry up as a result of the general anesthesia. Does anyone have any advice or feedback regarding what I can do to make sure my milk supply doesn't dry up or dwindle? My current plan is to bring the baby to the hospital with my and nurse her as much as possible before the surgery. Then, after the surgery I plan to pump (and dump) my milk as soon as I am lucid in the recovery room. I was thinking that I should probably pump (and dump) fairly aggressively for those 24 hours that I am unable to nurse, maybe every 1 1/2 hours when I'm awake and every 3 hours when I'm sleeping for 20 to 30 minutes. My sister in law suggested taking fenugreek to keep my supply up, but I'm unsure when to start that to optimize its effectiveness after the surgery. Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Call Infant Risk: www.infantrisk.com. You might want to ask your doctor beforehand what medications you will be on during and after surgery. My understanding from prior threads on this topic is that the recommendation that you can't nurse for 24 hours is incorrect, and that you can nurse as soon as you are no longer groggy. But definitely if you cannot nurse for an extended period of time, there is no reason to think that you cannot keep up your supply with pumping.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    The anesthesiologist's nurse almost certainly gave you incorrect advice. Think about moms who have c-sections under general anesthesia- they can generally nurse as soon as they are alert enough. But do call the anesthesiologist and ask for the names of the drugs you will be given, and check them out via Infant Risk (http://www.infantrisk.com) or by getting a copy of Hale's Medications and Mother's Milk.

    If you do end up having to pump, then your plan is a good one- with the exception of dumping the milk, which is probably not necessary.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    [QUOTE]The anesthesiologist's nurse told me that I cannot nurse my baby for 24 hours after the surgery and the surgeon warned me that my milk could dry up as a result of the general anesthesia.[/QUOTE] oh give me a break!

    please read this and call as pp suggest, call infantrisk. http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...tionsandbf.pdf and this, specifically about gen. anesthesia and surgery http://www.llli.org/nb/nbiss3-09p24.html
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; December 6th, 2013 at 06:25 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Thanks everyone, will call the Anesthesiologist's office first thing in the morning and find out the medications I will be given and then contact Infant Risk about them.
    The surgeon is breadstfeeding-friendly, having breastfed all 3 of her children, so there must have been some reason she said what she did about the milk drying up. I speculate that if they routinely tell women to go 24 hours without nursing, that might be part of the problem. She said that she will prescribe pain meds after the surgery that are compatible with breastfeeding.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Your speculation is very sound. Going 24 hours without nursing could definitely cause a decrease in supply.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  7. #7

    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    I just wanted to give an update on what happened with my surgery, in case others are going through the same thing. I wasn't able to get in touch with the Anesthesiologist's office before the surgery to get a list of drugs, so I could call the Infant Risk Center, so I figured I would just ask for the list of drugs in the hospital and call when I got home. When I got to the hospital and was situated in the pre-surgical holding bay, a student anesthesiologist came to do my intake and start an IV (I had the surgery done at a teaching hospital). She told me that she's never had a breastfeeding patient before, so she did some research on the drugs and that they all seem to be metabolized quickly and I could breastfeed as soon as I was no longer drowsy. She also put together the list of drugs they gave me in the OR. When the actual Anesthesiologist came in, I asked him how soon he thought I could nurse, he said probably about 12 hours or whenever I felt up to it. So, I got 3 different answers from 3 different medical professionals in the same hospital. I had the surgery around 7:30 am, went home around Noon, and breastfed my baby around 4:00 pm. In the meantime, I pumped and dumped my milk. We've been alternating breast milk and formula since then, for a couple reasons, the first being that I'm on narcotic pain relievers (oxycodone), so I don't want my baby to get too doped up and the second is that I'm still quite sore from the surgery and the baby is a little heavy and kicks her legs when she feeds making it uncomfortable for me to feed her. We'll probably be back to our normal breastfeeding routine tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for your advice!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Thanks for letting us know how things went! Hope you have a speedy recovery.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    40

    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Oh wow, so many misinformations! :/
    I'm so sorry you had to deal with that... I just had my gallbladder out 5 days ago and I stayed in a hospital over night because anesthesia was a bit brutal on me (from crying afterwards to throwing up.. lovely).
    My anesthesiologist told me that I need to pump and dump first feeding and the rest will be okay.
    As far as anti pain meds go, I'd see if you can switch to something more baby-friendly. I was/am taking paracetamol and ibuprofen which are the safest options, or so I was told by the anesthesiologist and lactational consultant (at this point I am very much pain free already but it was hard first few days). My son is 9 months old atm so he also eats other things besides milk but he still pretty much nurses around the clock.
    Good luck with recovery!
    My son was born 3/15/2013. He is my little wiggle worm

    -ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) mom, would love to talk if you are going or went through the same experience.
    Also: &

    -most of the time busy chasing my little man as he rolls his way through the house

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Breastfeeding and Surgery

    Thank you so much for the update and I hope you are better soon! I am sorry you got so such conflicting information but not at all surprised. I am glad you found a solution that you are comfortable with.

    For others facing similar situations I would like to point out that GA is not considered by those knowledgeable about both anesthesia and the process of milk production to be contraindicated for breastfeeding except in rare cases and it is thus considered safe to nurse baby (or pump and give baby that pumped milk if you prefer or baby is not present) as soon as mom is awake post surgery.

    Hale rates Oxycodone as L3- moderately safe. (His rating scale goes from L1-L5 and only L5 drugs are contraindicated for breastfeeding.) Many Mothers who are taking this or similar medication as directed for post surgery pain relief –including almost all mothers who have c-section births- exclusively nurse without issue.
    I want to suggest to others facing a similar concern that it may be helpful to call the infant risk line even if you do not know the exact meds you will be given for a procedure. Or, if it is an emergency situation and the infant risk line is closed, call your local LLL or the LLL USA helpline, someone should be able to read you the info you require to make an informed decision from Hale’s book Medications and Mothers Milk.

    Formula, pumping and bottle feeding all carry risks to breastfeeding as well. Anytime a decision needs to be made about taking a medication, It’s about balancing the risks.

    Also I think that some moms struggle some with milk production post surgery due to dip in nutrition & hydration from fasting and the physical stess of surgery and healing, and of course the (usually unnecesary) temporary weaning imposed on then, not due to anesthesia 'drying milk up.'
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; December 15th, 2013 at 05:19 PM. Reason: forgot something

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