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Anesthesia

Anesthesia While Breastfeeding

10/21/2008

Question:

Hello. I have questions about sedation and general anesthesia. I`m having endoscopy for my stomach and colonoscopy soon and I`ll be sedated for the procedure. And I`m breastfeeding my baby. Can I breastfeed after the procedure? Another question is about general anesthetasia. I`m having appenectomy next month, and I`ll have general anesthesia. How long should I wait to breastfeed? Thank you very much.

Answer:

Questions about medication use during pregnancy or breastfeeding are difficult to answer definitively because there are two individuals involved - the mother and the baby - and because there aren't a whole lot of studies (few volunteers). Some physicians will err on the side of caution, and advise nursing moms to express their breast milk for 24 hours or so, then recommence breastfeeding. However most commonly used sedative agents (e.g. fentanyl, midazolam, propofol) appear in breast milk in such small quantities that harmful effects on the baby are unlikely to occur, so anesthesiologists will usually advise that breastfeeding be restarted after general anesthesia or sedation as soon as the mother is awake and comfortable enough to do so. After cesarean section performed with general anesthesia, mothers are encouraged to nurse as soon as possible, without any obvious harmful effects on the newborn.

It's best however to check with your anesthesia provider because what's given, and the dosages, do vary (and because NetWellness does not provide medical advice).

Your question about an "appenectomy" is a bit of a mystery. I assume you mean appendectomy - the removal of the appendix. But an appendectomy is an emergency operation. The appendix is not removed in planned, elective surgery except in very rare circumstances such as a tumor. In any case, the same general remarks apply as noted above.

For more information:

Go to the Anesthesia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University