Surgery while Breastfeeding

Archived Q&A and Reviews

  • Surgery
  • Wisdom Teeth Extraction

    Having Surgery while Breastfeeding

    From: Ann (10/98)

    I had outpatient surgery while nursing--my son was 5 months at the time. My plan was to avoid pain medication altogether, but, you guessed it, the pain was so bad I couldn't stand it. So they gave me fentonil (sp?) which is given to laboring mothers, percoset, and tylenol with codine. I checked out all three with my pediatrician and OB, and both said that it was fine to continue nursing while on these medications. I did, and saw no side effects on my son at all. In fact, he was on his best behaviour in weeks--I honestly think they can tell that mommy is hurting. In any event, I was on the meds for almost 2 weeks, and it all worked out fine. My sister just had her wisdom teeth out, and they gave her the same meds for pain, so they should be possiblilites for you. good luck!

    From: Sherry (10/98)

    Just make sure there is someone to take care of you for a day or so. And I mean really take care of you and the baby, so that you don't have to do a thing except be reminded to move your frozen peas from side to side, every 20 minutes, and make milk shakes for you. If you have the general anesthesia, you will probably sleep for several hours. My daughter was very nervous about it, but decided to go that way because of her anxiety. However, many people feel that the recovery process is much faster with only local anesthesia. The surgeons seem to be reluctant to do this, especially if the patient is pretty nervous.

    Breast milk can always be pumped and dumped when mom's have to have surgery or be on incompatible medications for a short time. One can syringe feed a baby instead of a bottle, but a bottle doesn't have to be a total enemy. Solid breastfeeding is usually established by 4-6 weeks and at that point, most babies are flexible. After 2 months, many babies absolutely refuse bottles, which actually becomes very problemmatic for mothers who would like to get occasional time off.

    It always helps to have a good lactation consultant available to you. There are so many excellent people in this area, but here are a few resources:

    Bay Area Lactation Center, with Bonnie Bruce, has been mentioned here(204-9703)
    Janaki Costello: 525-1155

    If you use Kaiser, they provide excellent, free of charge lactation support: in Oakland Joanne Jasson 596-7557

    Having your Wisdom Teeth out while Breastfeeding

    From: Naomi (10/98)

    I considered options for having my wisdom teeth removed about 9 months ago, when my son was 13 months old and still nursing on demand. The orthodontist didn't really seem to understand the issue- he thought it would be just fine if I pumped and stored milk in advance, fed that to the baby for a few days (it was at least 2-3 just to be sure the anasthesia was out of my system- I wasn't even thinking about pain killers afterwards!) and pump and discard during that time. While I think that might work in your case (ie with a newborn), it would have effectively meant weaning a 13 month old. There would have been no way he would have understood that Mom couldn't let him nurse, and a bottle would not have been a substitute he would accept (for one thing, he never took much from a bottle to begin with, it was only in my absence, and we stopped around 10 months). Ultimately, removing my teeth was not worth weaning my child, and I still have them. Unfortunately, after becoming pregnant with my second, my teeth (or gums, actually) REALLY started bothering me at about 3 months- much more than they ever have before, including the first pregnancy. It has made me re-think the need to have them removed, but of course I'm not going to do it while pregnant. Possibly when the baby is a few months old and still flexible enough to return to nursing even if it's not possible for a few days... Anyway, for the meantime, I did find a homeopathic toothpaste that has basically cleared up the problems I was having with my gums (my teeth are impacted and hence have little pockets above them where food gets trapped). As long as I keep them clean, I haven't had the inflamation and pain (2 months ago, it didn't seem to matter whether or not they were clean- they still constantly hurt).

    From: Fran (10/98)

    When I had my wisdom teeth out, one was impacted and required surgery. I was given some Tylenol with codein tablets but didn't need anything more than plain Tylenol. Ask your OB/Gyn, but my regular doctor said she thinks Tylenol is OK when nursing--it's what they give you after a C-section and nursing is OK in that situation.

    From: Claire (10/98)

    I had my wisdom teeth (2 impacted and 2 not) removed when my son was 7 months old. I had scheduled to have them removed, but as it happened I was pregnant already and chose to cancel the appointment. Seven months later I was having severe headaches due to the impaction. The oral surgeon (Richard Berger) was sympathetic to my concerns about nursing. But I did my own research, too, and decided that at 7 months my son's nursing habits, digestive system, and general willingness/ability to be comforted by his Dad were in my favor.

    I can't remember what the process of sedation was, but basically I remember sitting down in that chair, and then getting up. I was really scared of the whole thing, but the recovery was amazingly quick. The scariest moment was when I was resting in the patient lounge post-op. When Steve and Simon came in to get me, Steve's expression was severe--he actually muttered Oh my God-- looking at my surely puffed up face, and vacant stare. I looked like a ghost!

    I took Tylenol only for that first day. My husband and son basically sat in bed with me and he read us both stories. Nursing went fine for Simon and me, I just couldn't interact with him as I was used to (looking at him, etc.). I didn't talk much, or eat much for about 3 days and then it was over. My chin was numb for about 4 months but that's another issue.... Good luck!