Preparing for Your Surgery or Procedure While You Are Breastfeeding or Lactating

This information will help you prepare for your surgery or procedure at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) while you’re breastfeeding or lactating.

Before Your Surgery or Procedure

Talk with your surgeon and anesthesiologist about the type of medication that you will receive before, during, and after your surgery or procedure. By talking with your healthcare team ahead of time, they can support you throughout your care.

If you have questions about any of the medications you will receive, there are resources that can help:

  • Infant Risk Center
    You can find information on the use of medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • International Lactation Consultant Association
    You can find a lactation consultant near you by searching under the “Directories” section.

If possible, pump and store a supply of breast milk before your surgery or procedure. Storing your breast milk ahead of time will allow your baby to continue to be fed your breast milk while you’re separated. You can find information about how to safely store your breast milk by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website listed under “Additional Resources” below.

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The Day of Your Surgery or Procedure

Plan to breastfeed or pump right before your surgery or procedure. This will help maintain your milk supply and prevent pain and engorgement.

What to bring to the hospital

  • Your own breast pump with power source
  • All the supplies you need for milk expression
  • Milk storage containers
  • A cooler bag with ice packs (to store pumped breastmilk)

Talk with your healthcare team

On the day of your surgery or procedure, tell your healthcare team that you are breastfeeding or lactating and wish to continue.

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After Your Surgery or Procedure

Anesthesia (medication to make you sleep) does not stay in your body for very long. If you have questions about the anesthesia you received, talk with your anesthesiologist. You should plan to start pumping again as soon as you’re awake and able. If you need help, ask a member of your healthcare team. You may also need help from your family or friends while you recover from your surgery or procedure.

While you’re separated from your baby, plan to pump every 3 to 4 hours, or at least as often as your baby feeds. Pumping frequently will help maintain your supply of breast milk until you’re able to breastfeed again.

If you have questions about any of the medications you will receive after your surgery or procedure, talk with your healthcare provider about finding a different medication. You can also check the websites or call the number listed under the “Before Your Surgery or Procedure” section.

If you expect to stay in the hospital for more than 24 hours, make arrangements with a family member or friend to bring your pumped breast milk home each day. Your breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler bag with ice packs for 24 hours. Keep the ice packs in contact with the milk containers at all times, and open the cooler bag as little as possible.

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Additional Resources

Additional websites you may find helpful

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Proper Handling and Storage of Human Milk  
Provides information about how to safely prepare and store breastmilk.

Breastfeeding USA
Provides information and support for breastfeeding.

Resources for pumping supplies near MSK

Falk Medical Supplies
1167 First Avenue between East 63rd and East 64th Streets 
New York, NY 10065

Yummy Mummy 
1201 Lexington Avenue between East 81st and East 82nd Streets
New York, NY 10028

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