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.

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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.

Return to Breastfeeding when mom has surgery

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