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Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

Will my baby be able to continue breastfeeding after surgery?

When a baby is having surgery, it can be a scary experience for the parents and the baby. But the closeness and security of breastfeeding can be very calming and comforting. Surgery may interrupt breastfeeding for a period of time. 

You will have to stop breastfeeding at some point before your baby's surgery. Make sure you know when you can give your last feeding.


Managing breastfeeding after surgery

In most cases, your baby will be able to breastfeed once he or she is awake enough to drink liquids without problems, as advised by his or her doctor. Regardless of the length of time this takes, there are some things you can do to make the experience less stressful, including the following:

  • Since you may have to miss one or more breastfeeding sessions, pumping your breasts to express your milk will relieve discomfort and maintain your milk supply. This process will be a little easier if you plan ahead.

  • Ask your baby's doctor or nurse where you may pump while at the hospital. Electric pumps are usually available for your use. If you will be missing more than a few nursing sessions and will not be at the hospital all the time, you might want to rent an electric breast pump, from the hospital, to use during this time.

  • Steady milk production depends on effective and regular milk expression until your baby is ready and able to resume breastfeeding. Pump on the same schedule as your baby would normally breastfeed. Use a double collection kit that allows you to pump both breasts at once. Most mothers will need to pump for about 10 minutes when double-pumping, or 10 minutes on each breast. If your baby is a newborn and your milk has not yet come in, be sure to pump at least 8 times in 24 hours. You may not see any milk during the first several pumping sessions, and you may only get drops for several sessions after that. The milk produced before days 3 to 5 after delivery is called colostrum, and it is normally produced in low amounts. However, colostrum is especially rich in the anti-infective factors that are important for your baby.

  • Breast milk may be frozen for several months, or refrigerated and used within 24 to 48 hours after pumping. You will need to properly collect, label, and store your milk. Consult a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for more information about pumping and breast milk storage.

  • In most cases, you can resume breastfeeding when your baby has awakened from the anesthesia. However, surgery can be very disruptive and your baby may not be interested or ready to breastfeed right after surgery. If your baby is not able to breastfeed the usual length of time, you can pump after the feeding to empty your breasts and maintain your milk production.

Since this is a stressful time for the family, you may find that your milk supply is reduced. Remember to rest and maintain your food and especially your fluid intake during this time to help you stay healthy and maintain your breast milk supply.

Reviewed Date: 10-29-2014

Cirugía y el Lactante
Children's Cardiac Surgery
Dr. Felix Tsai
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Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Allison Crepeau
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. Jeremy Saller
Dr. H. Sheldon St. Clair
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Dr. Allison Tenfelde
Dr. John Birknes
Dr. Joseph Dilustro
Dr. Gary Tye
Children's Plastic Surgery
Dr. George Hoerr
Dr. Jesus (Jegit) Inciong
Pediatric Surgery
Dr. Frazier Frantz
Dr. Robert Kelly
Dr. M. Ann Kuhn
Dr. Michele Lombardo
Dr. Robert Obermeyer
Children's Urology
Dr. Charles Horton Jr.
Dr. Jyoti Upadhyay
Dr. Louis Wojcik
Health Tips
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Tips to Lower Toddlers’ Choking Risks
Breastfeeding Quiz
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Breast Milk Expression - Helpful Equipment
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Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
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Breastfeeding the High-Risk Newborn
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Breastfeeding: Getting Started
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Preparing a Child for Surgery
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Preparing the Infant for Surgery
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Preparing the Toddler for Surgery
Sore Nipples
Storing Your Breast Milk
Surgical Overview
Taking Care of Your Breast Pump and Collection Kit
Thawing Breast Milk
The Benefits of Mother's Own Milk
The Day of Surgery
The Growing Child: 1 to 3 Months
The Growing Child: 10 to 12 Months
The Growing Child: 1-Year-Olds
The Growing Child: 4 to 6 Months
The Growing Child: 7 to 9 Months
The Hospital Setting
The Surgical Team for Children
Types of Surgery for Children
Types of Surgery for Children
Using a Breast Pump
Your Baby and Breastfeeding
Your High-Risk Baby and Expressing Milk

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.