Has anyone continued BF after a major health issue, such as surgery?

[deleted account] ( 2 moms have responded )

I recently discovered I have ASD, a heart defect that needs to be corrected with open heart surgery. I am fortunate to be able to postpone the surgery until my daughter is older and on solid foods. But I BF all of her siblings into their second year and really do not want to end this special time with her. I know she cannot have mommy milk while I am on meds, but am hoping to restart when I am off the meds. She will be around 6-7 months old when I have the surgery. Will be unable to nurse for 3-6 weeks, depending on how well I heal. Did anyone have an issue with their milk supply? Thank you ladies for your assistance!

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[deleted account]

An update in case someone else has to face a similar issue. I successfully had open heart surgery last week. The surgical team and nursing staff were all made aware of my desire to continue to breastfeed my little girl. I was unable to nurse her as long as I was on a narcotic, but was able to rely on just Tylenol for pain control after 4 days. The nurses encouraged me to pump even when it was so painful to do it (kind of like right after birth). So now, a week later, I am able to provide most of what my baby needs. My supply did fall off, and is a bit difficult to increase, but I am still healing myself. I am hopeful that in another week or two, I will again be able to meet all her needs. I am amazed at the support I got from the hospital staff and am so grateful for it, for there were times that it didn't seem worth the pain and hassle. But the length of time from the surgery until I was able to be mommy again was blessedly short. If you are determined, the results will come. God bless and thanks for your support!

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Happy - posted on 06/05/2012

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First off, let me say kudos to you for knowing the importance and be willing to nurse through anything. I have been there. I have never had open heart surgery but I had sepsis with a major internal abscess and with the help of amazing doctors, nurses and a wonderfully supportive husband, I was able to nurse through it!

I first would reconsider the thought of not being able to nurse for such a long time. I have never had ope heart surgery but I have had several surgeries of other types while continuing to breastfeed. If you have a children's hospital in your area, please contact the lactation consultant employed with the children's hospital and ask her to check to see if the meds you will be on are compatable with nursing. Children's hospitals have Level III nurseries and preemie babies are almost always given breastmilk exlusively. These lactation consultants understand about 1/2 life and molecular weight of meds, very important information concerning nursing and meds.
For instance, in alot of the traditional medical world, you will be told you can not breastfeed because of anethesia. In hospitals with children's ICUs, they know that almost ALL anethesia IS compatable with nursing.

One of your bigger issues, as I am sure you are aware, will be comfort and a baby of that age will have a VERY hard, if not impossible, time of being gentle around your wound. Maybe pumping for a few days until the sensitivity issue is more well managed. You could also try to have a friend or SO help you to hold your babe will you nurse.

If all else fails and everything I suggested is just simply impossible, you will have to pump and dump at the very least to keep from compromising your supply and to ward off mastitis and engorgement. The engorgement and mastitis will certainly not be as big of a problem as in the beginning of nursing but it is definitley not something you want to deal with on top of everything else!

Hugs and blessings to you!

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