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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 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 they are awake enough to drink liquids without problems, as advised by the healthcare provider. How long this will take will vary. But 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 and 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 from the hospital.

  • 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 often takes 10 to 20 minutes on each side for most mothers. 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. It is normally produced in low amounts. But colostrum is very rich in the anti-infective factors that are important for your baby.

  • Breastmilk may be frozen for several months. Or it can 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 resume breastfeeding when your baby has woken up from the anesthesia. But surgery can be very disruptive. Your baby may not be interested or ready to breastfeed right after surgery. 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. So you may find that your milk supply is reduced. Remember to rest. Also be sure to eat and especially drink enough fluids during this time. This will help you stay healthy and maintain your breastmilk supply.

Reviewed Date: 02-01-2021

Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant
Children's Cardiac Surgery
Dr. Emily Downs
Dr. James Gangemi
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Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. James Bennett
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Bettina Gyr
Dr. Peter Moskal
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. Stephanie Pearce
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Dr. Adam Conley
Dr. Joseph Dilustro
Dr. Kimberly Mackey
Plastic and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery
Dr. Yifan Guo
Dr. George Hoerr
Dr. Jesus (Jegit) Inciong
Dr. Edward Santee
Pediatric Surgery
Dr. Duane Duke
Dr. Frazier Frantz
Dr. Michael Goretsky
Dr. Kendall Jones
Dr. Donald Kauder
Dr. Robert Kelly
Dr. M. Ann Kuhn
Dr. Margaret McGuire
Dr. Robert Obermeyer
Dr. Leonard Weireter
Children's Urology
Dr. Michael Carr
Dr. Charles Horton Jr.
Dr. Jyoti Upadhyay
Dr. Louis Wojcik
Health Tips
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Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
Taking Baby's Temperature
Tips to Lower Toddlers’ Choking Risks
Breastfeeding Quiz
Healthy Eating While Pregnant or Breastfeeding
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Breast Milk Expression
Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
Breastfeeding and Returning To Work
Breastfeeding at Work
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
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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
Difficulty with Latching On or Sucking
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Expressing Your Milk - Helpful Equipment
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Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
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Preoperative Visit with the 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 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.