Mom’s story: Breastfeeding & Gall Bladder Surgery

by Doe. Reprinted with permission from the author.

I had gall bladder surgery (cholecystectomy) at 3 months post-partum.

I had to go in for my health history a few days prior to the surgery. I really liked my intake anesthesiologist, but he gave me the usual spiel about pump-n-dump for 24 hours after the surgery. When I asked him why, specifically, he hemmed and hawed and finally mumbled something about being safer for the baby, but no specifics. I had my daughter with me and said that I intended to continue to breastfeed unless it was specifically contraindicated. He finally fessed up and said that they routinely told women to pump and dump for 24-hours post-op (with gall bladder surgery) but there wasn’t any really compelling reason to do so.

When we got to the hospital the morning of my surgery, I intended to nurse just before going down. The person who was scheduled in front of me was cancelled for some reason, and I was actually sent for early. I made the transport team cool their heels in the hall for 15 minutes while I nursed my baby. After transport I was in a pre-surgery area where my anesthesia meds were initially started. I discussed with four separate anesthesiologists (both doctors and nurses) the fact that I intended to breastfeed post-op and all of them told me “No! Can’t be done!” Finally, the original anesthesiologist that I saw at pre-intake wandered over and said, “Oh, it’s you!” Then he addressed the others, “Well, I saw her baby earlier in the week, she’s fine, I don’t think there will be a problem.” They looked at him sorta funny, but then shrugged and went on about their business.

He did mention that my daughter might be a little extra sleepy if I planned on nursing her, but I never noticed any difference. I nursed within 4-5 hours after initially leaving my daughter with my husband in my hospital room… resumed as soon as I was functional enough to hold her. We never had a problem at all. We co-slept as usual that night and other than being a bit sore, things were back to normal very quickly.

I had the laparoscopic version of the surgery, which is the most common now (about 90%). The docs can prescribe breastfeeding-friendly meds for post-op. I had Mepergan (meperidine/promethazine combination) and Darvocet (propoxyphene) as pain relief post-op.

The only other words of caution I might offer are regarding your recovery. Those four little incisions look like nothing and I tried to do too much too soon. Just remember that it is major surgery, despite the small incisions and to take it easy for several days.

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