This new study says mothers can safely breastfeed after receiving anesthesia

On the occasion of Breastfeeding Week, researchers are saying that breastfeeding after anesthesia is fairly safe.
breastfeeding tips
Breastfeeding has its own set of benefits, as does expressing breast milk. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 1 Aug 2020, 12:37 pm IST
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Breastfeeding is one of the most crucial phases of a woman’s life. Especially if you are becoming a mom for the first time, there must be so many questions going around in your head about breastfeeding. 

There are a lot of myths that prevail about breastfeeding for the first time. According to some people, various drugs injected in the mom’s body during childbirth affects the sanctity of the milk. But this new study says that’s not the case with anaesthesia.    

Anaesthesia doesn’t have a major impact on breast milk
Breastfeeding is safe after the mother has had anaesthesia, as soon as she is alert and able to feed, suggest new guidelines published by the Association of Anaesthetists.

The guidelines published in the journal Anaesthesia come at the start of World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August).

“The guidelines say there is no need to discard any breast milk due to fear of contamination, since the evidence shows that anaesthetic and non-opioid painkiller drugs are transferred to breast milk in only very small amounts,” explain the authors who include Dr Mike Kinsella of the Association of Anaesthetists Safety Committee, based at St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, UK, and colleagues. “For almost all of these drugs, there is no evidence of effects on the breastfed infant.”

However, they also said that drugs such as opioids and benzodiazepines should be used with caution, especially after multiple doses and in babies up to 6 weeks old (corrected for gestational age). 

Do you know that breastfeeding acts as a temporary contraceptive method? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“In this situation, the infant should be observed for signs of abnormal drowsiness and respiratory depression, especially if the woman is also showing signs of sedation,” they explained. 

“Techniques that reduce opioid usage are preferable for the breastfeeding woman. Local and regional anaesthesia have benefits in this regard, and also have the least interference with the woman’s ability to care for her infant.”

Read these breastfeeding guidelines carefully
The study has also shared new and reformed guidelines for breastfeeding. The guidelines say that any women with an infant aged 2 years or younger should routinely be asked if they are breastfeeding during their preoperative assessment so that it can be explained to them that breastfeeding will be safe after their surgery. 

They say:

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Where possible, day surgery is preferable to avoid disrupting normal routines. A woman having day surgery should have a responsible adult stay with her for the first 24 hours. She should be cautious with co-sleeping, or sleeping while feeding the infant in a chair, as she may not be as responsive as normal.

They conclude: “In summary, the pharmacological aspects of anaesthesia and sedation require little alteration in breastfeeding women. However, supportive care for the woman in the peri-operative period, and accurate advice, will ensure minimal disruption to this important part of childcare.”

(With inputs from ANI)

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