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Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

Will my baby be able to keep breastfeeding after surgery?

When a baby has 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. Find out when you can give your last feeding.

Managing breastfeeding after surgery

In most cases, your baby will be able to breastfeed once they are awake enough to drink liquids without problems, as advised by the healthcare provider. How long this will take will vary. Here are some things you can do to make the experience less stressful:

  • You may have to miss 1 or more breastfeeding sessions. Pumping your breasts to express your milk will ease discomfort. It also helps keep up your milk supply. This process will be a little easier if you plan ahead.

  • Ask your baby's healthcare provider where you may pump while at the hospital. Electric pumps are often available to use. If you will be missing more than a few nursing sessions and won't be at the hospital all the time, think about renting an electric breast pump if you do not have one of your own.

  • Steady milk production depends on effective and regular milk expression until your baby is ready and able to breastfeed again. Pump on the same schedule as your baby would normally breastfeed. Use a double collection kit that lets you pump both breasts at once, if possible. Pump until your breasts are softened and comfortable. This usually takes 10 to 20 minutes on each side. If your baby is a newborn and your milk has not yet come in, pump at least 8 times in 24 hours. You may not see any milk during the first few 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. Colostrum is very rich in the anti-infective properties that are important for your baby.

  • Breastmilk may be frozen for several months. It can also be refrigerated and used within 4 days after pumping. You will need to correctly collect, label, and store your milk. Talk with a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for more information about pumping and breastmilk storage.

  • In most cases, you can breastfeed when your baby wakes up from the anesthesia. Surgery can be very disruptive, and your baby may not be interested or ready to breastfeed right away. If your baby is not able to breastfeed the normal length of time, you can pump after the feeding. This will empty your breasts and maintain your milk production.

This is a stressful time for your family. You may find that your milk supply is reduced. Take care of yourself. Get rest, eat, and drink enough fluids during this time. This will help you stay healthy and maintain your breastmilk supply.

Reviewed Date: 08-01-2023

Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant
Children's Cardiac Surgery
Dr. James Gangemi
Dr. Philip Smith
Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. James Bennett
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Peter Moskal
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. William Roache
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Dr. Adam Conley
Dr. Joseph Dilustro
Dr. Kimberly Terry
Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery
Dr. David Bitonti
Dr. Yifan Guo
Dr. George Hoerr
Dr. Jesus (Jegit) Inciong
Dr. Edward Santee
Pediatric Surgery
Dr. Katherine Davenport
Dr. Jamie Golden
Dr. Michael Goretsky
Dr. Sydney Johnson
Dr. Kendall Jones
Dr. M. Ann Kuhn
Dr. Franklin Margaron
Dr. Natalie O'Neill
Dr. Robert Obermeyer
Dr. Jeffrey Riblet
Children's Urology
Dr. Sean Corbett
Dr. Janelle Fox
Dr. Sarah Williamson
Dr. Louis Wojcik
Health Tips
How to Bathe Your Baby
Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
Taking Baby's Temperature
Tips to Lower a Toddler’s Choking Risk
Breastfeeding Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
Adding to Mother's Milk
Breast Milk Collection and Storage
Breast Milk Expression
Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
Breastfeeding and Returning To Work
Breastfeeding at Work
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
Breastfeeding the High-Risk Newborn
Breastfeeding When Returning to Work
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding Your High-Risk Baby
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
Breastfeeding: Returning to Work
Breastmilk: Pumping, Collecting, Storing
Caring for Newborn Multiples
Difficulty with Latching On or Sucking
Effective Sucking
Expressing Milk for Your High-Risk Baby
Expressing Your Milk - Helpful Equipment
Flat or Inverted Nipples
How Breastmilk Is Made
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Low Milk Production
Male Conditions
Managing Poor Weight Gain in Your Breastfed Baby
Maternal Nutrition and Breastfeeding
Maternity Leave
Milk Production and Your High-Risk Baby
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Overactive Let-Down
Plugged Milk Ducts
Preoperative Visit with Your Child's Surgeon
Preparing a Child for Surgery
Preparing Siblings for Surgery
Preparing the Infant for Surgery
Preparing the Preschooler for Surgery
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Preparing the Teen for Surgery
Preparing the Toddler for Surgery
Sore Nipples
Storing Your Breastmilk
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 Surgical Setting
The Surgical Team for Children
Thrush (Oral Candida Infection) in 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.