I am going to have a short surgery in a few weeks. I will be under general anesthesia for about 30 min. The hospital said not to breast feed for 24 hours after. I will pump ahead of time and have a supply ready. My son is eleven months old so he is eating food too.

However, I have read that you can resume breastfeeding 4 hours after surgery. Does anyone have any experience with this? Can you suggest any reading to support one position or another?




PS the nurse seemed to think i should wean altogether because he was almost 12 months. No way. Neither of us are ready for that yet.


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Maybe it depends on any injected pain meds given? I don't have any experience with it, but I would think 24 hours would be more for your comfort, to allow you to rest, and to wake up fully from the anesthetic. Some people are really drowsy after, some really nauseated, etc.

It may be a wait and see sort of day...
Hi Amy,

The general rule is that once mom is awake and aware she can resume breastfeeding. It is best to look up the medications that will be used to check for infant concerns and how long the half-life of the medications are. Other considerations are the age and health of the baby. Your child (if healthy) has less risk than a newborn, who is more immature and consuming more milk.

If you want to send me the names of the specific meds, I can look them up for you.
You can also check Dr. Tom Hale's forums. Dr. Hale is the leading expert on lactational pharmacology (and author of Medications and Mother's Milk). Enter as a guest to see previous posts. Only health care professionals can post questions to the forums. http://neonatal.ama.ttuhsc.edu/lact/medicationforumspage.html

Another resource is Lactmed from the National Library of Medicine. It is a free online resource to check for the safety of medications for breastfeeding mothers and babies. http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT

If you have any concerns, please contact a lactation professional who can help you evaluate the safety of the medications for YOUR BABY.

Emily Healy, IBCLC, RLC
Lactation Consultant - Puget Sound Breastfeeding Services
Thanks Emily!

That was really helpful.
Like Emily says it is generally safe to breastfeed as soon as you are conscious enough to be able to do so, as it indicates that you have cleared the majority of the anaesthetic from your system and therefore also from the breastmilk.
There is often advice about needing to have x-hours break or pump and dump for a time, but that is rarely necessary.
If you think about the times when mum has a general anaesthetic for an emergency c-section she is still allowed to breastfeed as soon as she feels able to try, so I would TELL your anaesthetist that you WILL be feeding within a few hours after the surgery and then they can choose the appropriate anaesthetic - very few are not appropriate.

I breastfed my 6wk old daughter within 2hrs after a 90minute operation with no concerns from the anaesthetist. I had to have a small dose of morphine for pain relief 6 hrs afterwards, so she may have received a bit of that in my milk - she was certainly very chilled for daddy! - but the amount passing to her would've been very small, and no larger than she would've been safely prescribed to be given to her directly had she been the one having the op.



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