I get a lot of questions from my friends about receiving anesthesia while breastfeeding. As more moms are breastfeeding, I think it’s an important question to tackle for the baby’s safety. I’ve included references and summarized key points below. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask
your anesthesiologist or physician who will be taking care of you.
From Anesthesiology, October 2017.
Breastfeeding after Anesthesia: A Review for Anesthesia Providers Regarding the Transfer of Medications into Breast Milk. Transl Perioper Pain Med. 2015; 1(2): 1–7.
ABM Clinical Protocol #15: Analgesia and Anesthesia for the Breastfeeding Mother, Revised 2017. BREASTFEEDING MEDICINE Volume 12, Number 9, 2017.
KellyMom: breastfeeding and surgery resources
Intrathecal and epidural anesthesia and opioids are ok for breastfeeding mothers.
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and ketorolac are ok because they have relatively short half-lives.
Propofol is ok. Proceed with breastfeeding when mom is awake after anesthesia.
Midazolam (sedation dose) is ok. Proceed with breastfeeding when mom is awake after anesthesia.
Fentanyl is short-acting enough. Proceed with breastfeeding when mom is awake after anesthesia.
Avoid meperidine in the post-operative unit – its metabolites have long half-lives.
Hydromorphone has a long half-life (10hours). Best to avoid this medication or pump and dump.
Morphine: low dose is ok. Caution if using morphine PCA.
Hydrocodone: dosage should be <30mg/day in breastfeeding moms.
Oxycodone: dosage should be <30mg/day in breastfeeding moms or not used at all.
Tramadol: ok. But FDA not recommend for breastfeeding moms (USA).
Things to Consider
Try to have your case booked as early in the morning to decrease the amount of time for fasting.
Pump a stash of breast milk ahead of surgery for 1 day of feeds just in case. You can always use this expressed milk later.
Breastfeed or express milk just before the start of the procedure.
Have an adult supervise you post-operatively as well as the baby in case there are signs of medication transferred to the baby.
Consider anesthetic techniques (local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, non-narcotics, etc.) to minimize opioid consumption.
We had a journal club where we discussed this article:
Anesthesiology, May 2017; Clinical effectiveness and safety of intraoperative methadone in patients undergoing posterior spinal fusion surgery: a randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial.
IV Methadone 0.2 mg/kg vs IV hydromorphone 2mg at surgical closure in 2+ level spinal fusion Decreased postop IV and opioid requirements and pain scores. Improved patient satisfaction
Is there a pain service following these patients postoperatively?
Exclusions: do you include OSA and BMI>45 patients?
Is ETCO2 and PCA enough to combat respiratory depression on the floor?
Are any discharged on the same day after receiving this dose — think total knees and single level lamis?
Will this improve or worsen the opioid epidemic?
Are surgeons on board with tackling pain multimodally for the benefit of the patient?
For pain follow-up, are there psychiatry, homeopathy, palliative care, PT, holistic approaches for the patient?
Methadone Dose Conversion Guidelines
Intraop Lidocaine for postop pain
Intraop Ketamine for postop pain
Sys Rev 2014: Effectiveness of opioid substitution treatments for patients with opioid dependence: a systematic review and multiple treatment protocol.
Am j of Pub Health, Aug 2014. Determinants of Increased Opioid-Related Mortality in the United States and Canada, 1990–2013: A Systematic Review.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Feb; 77(2): 272–284. Long term outcomes of pharmacological treatments for opioid dependence: does methadone still lead the pack?
PLoS One. 2014; 9(11): e112328. Methadone Induction in Primary Care for Opioid Dependence: A Pragmatic Randomized Trial (ANRS Methaville).
Curr Psychiatry Rev. 2014 May; 10(2): 156–167. Genetics of Opioid Dependence: A Review of the Genetic Contribution to Opioid Dependence.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 Mar 1; 160: 112–118. Methadone, Buprenorphine and Preferences for Opioid Agonist Treatment: A Qualitative Analysis.
Croat Med J. 2013 Feb; 54(1): 42–48. Risk factors for fatal outcome in patients with opioid dependence treated with methadone in a family medicine setting in Croatia.
J Med Toxicol. 2016 Mar; 12(1): 58–63. Pharmacotherapy of Opioid Addiction: “Putting a Real Face on a False Demon”.
Syst Rev. 2014; 3: 45. Sex differences in outcomes of methadone maintenance treatment for opioid addiction: a systematic review protocol.