Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Surgery and Breastfeeding – Questions to Ask

on November 9, 2015

Most breastfeeding mothers, when faced with the possibility that they will need surgery, spend more time worrying about how their baby will cope with the separation and how to manage breastfeeding than they do worrying about themselves.  Sometimes you have the luxury of time to plan ahead for the surgery and sometimes it has to be done on very short notice.  Here are some things that you may want to discuss with your surgeon, assuming you have time to do so:

  • Let your doctor and other health care providers know that you are breastfeeding and that you want to continue to breastfeed your baby before and after your surgery if at all possible.
  • Find out how long your surgery will take and how long you will need to be at the hospital before and after the surgery.
  • If you will need to stay in hospital overnight or for a few days find out what the hospital policy is about having your baby brought to you for feedings. Some hospitals won’t allow babies on to the surgical unit but you may be able to go to a public area in the hospital to feed your baby once you are mobile or can be taken there in a wheelchair.
  • Ask about the medications you will be given for your surgery and post-operative care. Most anesthetics are short acting.  By the time you are awake enough to feed your baby, the drug is out of your system and won’t be passed on to baby.  Discuss using pain medications and antibiotics that are compatible with breastfeeding.  If you need additional information about the medications your surgeon plans to use, please call a La Leche League Leader
  • Discuss what kind of movement restrictions you may have after your surgery. You may need to plan ahead for help with lifting your child or positioning your baby at the breast.
  • Discuss whether you will have any restrictions or impediments to eating or drinking fluids after your surgery. You need to be well nourished both to heal yourself and to feed your baby.  On the day of the surgery, plan on breastfeeding your baby or pumping as close to the time of surgery as possible.  This will help keep your breasts from becoming overly full during the surgery and recovery period.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


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