Can I breastfeed after having anesthesia for surgery?

Q: Can I still breastfeed after having anesthesia for surgery?

A: The first thing you should do is talk to the physician performing your surgery. Let him know you're breastfeeding and ask about the anesthesia being used. In many cases, it's fine to continue nursing after the first day post-op since most types of general anesthesia leave your system within 24 hours, although some can last longer. (You'll likely want to pump and dump that day to prevent engorgement and keep up your milk supply.) If you're going to be hospitalized, you should ask about the hospital's policy on nursing mothers and their babies. This will give you a better idea of how much milk you'll want to stockpile before the procedure. But even if you're having outpatient surgery, it's a good idea to pump and freeze extra milk for your baby ahead of time. You may be uncomfortable and not up to nursing after surgery. You may also be taking antibiotics or pain medication (like codeine) that could be harmful to your baby. Ask your surgeon about using pain meds that are safer for nursing mothers, but don't try to be a hero. If you need medication, take it -- even if that means your baby has to be bottle-fed for a few days. Pain may actually suppress milk production, so by denying yourself relief you could be delaying your ability to start breastfeeding again.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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