The American Society of Anesthesiologists ASA offers this statement to provide anesthesiologists with evidence based information so they may appropriately counsel nursing mothers undergoing surgery who are concerned about adverse neonatal effects from medication exposure via breastmilk. The committee reviewed existing guidelines and reviews on the concentration of anesthetic drugs in breast milk to produce the overview and recommendations included in this statement. This outdated recommendation was made before data was available on the accumulation of drugs in breastmilk yet is still widely circulated on the internet, creating considerable confusion among patients and providers. Although many lactating patients presenting for surgical procedures are prepared to pump and dump, patients routinely ask their anesthesiologist for information and recommendations on when they may safely resume breastfeeding.
Does Anesthesia Affect a New Mom’s Ability to Breastfeed?
Statement on Resuming Breastfeeding after Anesthesia | American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)
Park Ridge, Ill. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists AANA , most anesthetic drugs are safe for use during lactation, and typically only 1percent to 2 percent of such medications given to the mother appear in breast milk—not enough to harm a baby. For mothers committed to breastfeeding, the need to have surgery and anesthesia often presents a concern. In addition to the logistical difficulty of breastfeeding when a new mother is admitted to the hospital, there may be concerns about the medications the mother could receive. New moms who need anesthesia for surgery or another procedure should always consult with their anesthesia professional for information specific to their situation. There are exceptions to every rule and there may be other considerations to think about.
Statement on Resuming Breastfeeding after Anesthesia
You actually CAN breastfeed within 2 to 4 hours after surgery. The reason most doctors say to wait 24 hours is that they were trained before anyone ever studied anesthetics in breast milk. Well, this has now been researched and shown that the levels of anesthetic medication used in general anesthesia do not significantly persist in the breast milk beyond a couple hours. The little that does remain for the rest of the day is so minute, that it will have no noticeable effect on the baby.
Some breastfeeding women undergo surgical procedures. They nearly all ask whether it is safe to continue breastfeeding their infant after having undergone anesthesia. According to popular belief, anesthetic drugs are powerful and dangerous, and their presence in breast milk may well adversely affect the health of any baby fed such milk.