New guidelines published by the Association of Anaesthetists state that breastfeeding is safe after the mother has had anaesthesia, as soon as she is alert and able to feed.
The guidelines were published in the journal Anaesthesia in the wake of World Breastfeeding Week, held between August 1-7, 2020.
“The guidelines say there is no need to discard any breast milk due to fear of contamination since the evidence shows that anaesthetic and non-opioid painkiller drugs are transferred to breast milk in only very small amounts,” the authors, including Dr Mike Kinsella of the Association of Anaesthetists Safety Committee, were quoted as saying.
“For almost all of these drugs, there is no evidence of effects on the breastfed infant,” the guidelines read.
Drugs such as opioids and benzodiazepines, however, should be used with caution, especially after multiple doses and in babies up to six weeks old (corrected for gestational age).
“In this situation, the infant should be observed for signs of abnormal drowsiness and respiratory depression, especially if the woman is also showing signs of sedation. Techniques that reduce opioid usage are preferable for the breastfeeding woman. Local and regional anaesthesia have benefits in this regard, and also have the least interference with the woman’s ability to care for her infant,” they added.
The guidelines also stated that a woman should ideally have day surgery, and should also have a responsible adult who can stay with her for the first 24 hours. “She should be cautious with co-sleeping, or sleeping while feeding the infant in a chair, as she may not be as responsive as normal,” the authors wrote.
“In summary, the pharmacological aspects of anaesthesia and sedation require little alteration in breastfeeding women. However, supportive care for the woman in the peri-operative period, and accurate advice, will ensure minimal disruption to this important part of childcare,” they concluded.
(With inputs from ANI)
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