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Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant

Will my baby be able to continue breastfeeding following surgery?

When a baby is having surgery, it can be a frightening experience for the parents and the child. However, the closeness and security derived from breastfeeding can be very calming and comforting. Usually when a baby is scheduled for surgery, breastfeeding will have to be delayed for a period of time prior to, during, and after surgery. This is true for either a minor procedure, in which your baby will only need to be in the hospital for a few hours, or more extensive procedures, requiring several days of hospitalization.

Feedings usually need to be withheld around the time of surgery because the anesthesia given to help your baby sleep during an operation may cause nausea and vomiting if your baby has been fed recently. Going to surgery with an empty stomach can help prevent serious problems that may occur if your baby vomits during the operation. In most cases, your baby will be able to continue to breastfeed up to a few hours before surgery. However, it is essential that you check with your child's physician prior to surgery. If a feeding is given too close to the time of surgery, the operation may have to be rescheduled.

Managing breastfeeding after surgery:

In most cases, your baby will be able to return to breastfeeding once he/she is awake enough to drink liquids without problems, as advised by his/her physician. 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 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 fluid intake during this time to help you stay healthy and maintain your breast milk supply.

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