Maternal Illness


A breastfeeding mother who needs surgery may continue to breastfeed. She may need coordination of care before, during and after surgery to help properly manage her lactation status, in order to prevent engorgement, plugs, infection, and suppression of milk production due to a sudden decrease in milk removal. If the surgery is elective, it is ideal for the primary care physician or surgeon to contact the hospital lactation specialist pre-operatively, for assistance with milk expression in the pre-op and post-op unit and during long surgeries. Anesthesia in breastmilk clears at the same rate as anesthesia in the brain, so once the mother is awake and alert after surgery, she can breastfeed her infant1. It is ideal to allow the infant to room in with the mother post-operatively. She will most likely need a support person to stay with her to help manage the infant’s needs.




  1. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #15:  Analgesia and Anesthesia for the Breastfeeding  Mother. Breastfeeding Med 12(9) 2017
  2. US Centers for Disease Control Contraindications to Breastfeeding or Feeding Expressed Breast Milk to Infants (accessed Jan 17, 2020)
  3. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #26:  Persistent Pain with Breastfeeding Breastfeeding Med1(2) 2016
  4. Niimi K, Usami K, Fujita Y, Abe M, et al Development of immune and microbial environments is independently regulated in the mammary gland MucosalImmunology 11(3) May 2018 p. 643653
  5. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #18:  Use of Antidepressants in Nursing Mothers. Breastfeeding Med 10(6) 2015 DOI: 10.1089/bfm.2015.29002
  6. Lactmed National Institutes of Health Drug and Lactation Database (accessed 12/14/19)
  7. Hale TW, Rowe HE Medications & Mothers’ Milk 2017 Springer Publishing Company 17th Edition
  8. Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (accessed 1/18/20)
  9. Sebastiani G, Barbero AH, Borras-Novell C, et al The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diet during Pregnancy on the Health of Mothers and Offspring Nutrients 2019 11, 557
  10. Kaska L, Kobiela J, Abacjew-Chmylko A, et al Nutrition and Pregnancy after Bariatric Surgery ISRN Obesity 2013
  11. Wagner CL, Greer FR, and the AAP Section on Breastfeeding and Committee on Nutrition Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents Pediatrics 2008; 122: 1142-1152