Breastfeeding and anesthesia?

Jeannette - posted on 10/20/2009 ( 3 moms have responded )




I have two medical proceedures I have to have done in November and December. Does anyone know how long it is recommended to wait to breastfeed after receiving anesthesia? Is there a need to "pump and dump" or does the anesthesia naturally leave the breastmilk after time - like alcohol does?


Tammy - posted on 10/20/2009




For a mother that is motivated, breastfeeding certainly can occur during the time period surrounding anesthesia and surgery. Many studies have found that the use of general anesthesia and most commonly used medications for pain relief are safe and should not interfere with breastfeeding. Mothers that have anesthesia or pain relief during labor and delivery are encouraged to breastfeed almost immediately - and it should be no different for mothers breastfeeding their infants. A nursing mother should be allowed to breastfeed as soon as she is awake and aware after general anesthesia.

Here are some facts about breastfeeding and anesthesia:

Medications used in general anesthesia do not remain in the mother's system and do not affect her milk.

Nearly all pain medications are safe for the nursing mother. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen are safe. Narcotic analgesics should be used with greater caution - but in general only trace amounts appear in breast milk. Morphine has been shown to have the least effect of all the narcotics on infants. Codeine should be used with caution, but is easily substituted with another medication. Demerol may cause some drowsiness in the infant, but again is generally considered safe.

Pain suppresses lactation. The proper relief of pain will help lactation to continue.

Always consult your physician about specifics - there are exceptions to every rule and there may be other considerations. Every decision is about weighing both the risks and the benefits.

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Christine - posted on 10/20/2009




Wow! I wish I had known this. I had a procedure done about a month after my daugher was born and was told by the surgeon that I needed to "pump and dump" for 48 hours after anesthesia! It never ceases to amaze me how very little doctors know about breastfeeding and what is safe for breastfeeding mothers. It makes me angry when I have to tell my general practitioner that a certain medication he wants to prescribe isn't safe for me to take when breastfeeding. My daughter had to have formula those couple days that I was "pumping and dumping" and I think it may have sensitized her against cows milk. She's now allergic.

Minnie - posted on 10/20/2009




Most anesthesia medications have a fast half-life. By the time you are lucid enough to be able to nurse your baby the medication is effectively out of your system. And only minimal quanitites actually get into your milk.

I had general anesthesia, and had my husband bring my my daughter and lie her next to me so I could nurse her- all before I could even gather the strength in my arms to hold her up.

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