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Can I nurse while on antibiotics?
Preg.: I am expecting my second child and want to breastfeed longer than I did with my first child, if possible. The problem is I am having surgery only two weeks after the birth to have my gallbladder removed. I will be on antibiotics for a couple days before surgery and then pain meds for a couple days after. Should I pump just to keep the milk flowing (and throw that milk away), or will my milk dry up from all the medicine? Will I be able to resume breastfeeding?
Nita Pocomoke
Resp.: Dear Nita,

I am delighted to see how you are already planning for breastfeeding beyond the date of your gallbladder surgery. Yes, you can absolutely continue breastfeeding after your gallbladder surgery, and your milk will not dry up from taking medications. Usually it takes at least two weeks for a newborn to establish a good nursing pattern. After two weeks, bottles containing mother's milk or formula can be added without dissuading your baby from nursing.

Many antibiotics can safely be taken by nursing moms while others are best to avoid. You should ask your surgeon which antibiotics you will need to take and discuss these with your obstetrician or pediatrician. If your only option for antibiotics are ones that are not safe for a breastfeeding infant, then pumping and discarding your milk at that time is appropriate. You will undoubtedly need anesthesia during your surgery and pain medication afterwards. I would recommend discarding your pumped breast milk on the day of surgery. However, it is likely that you could continue to breastfeed while you are on oral pain medication. We have lots of experience watching infants feed while their mothers are taking pain medication after cesarean sections. Most pain medications are well tolerated by nursing infants and are not thought to be harmful.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist