Breastfeeding? 3 things to do to regain milk supply after surgery

Did you just have surgery or are going to have one and are worried about your milk supply decreasing? I will tell you what I did after my surgery to regain my milk supply. There are a number of reasons why milk supply decreases when we undergo surgery. Some of them could be because we are not able to pump, drink enough liquids, or some medications that might inhibit the supply or might pass to the milk making it not good for our babies depending on what medication it is.

I have been there, wondering if my moderate (but enough for my baby) milk supply was going to take a big hit or not. Sometimes it takes what seems a long time (and sometimes painful) to establish a constant milk supply for our babies that we worry about not being enough any longer after surgery.

 My baby was 4 months old when I had to have a cholecystectomy. She was exclusively breastfed and when I went into the hospital, I worried that she might refuse formula. I had some breast milk frozen but I knew it was not going to last more than 2 days. I went in on a Tuesday morning after I nursed my baby and got out on Saturday. Some things happened that I had to stay longer than expected…

That Tuesday, after 5 hours passed by, I still had no idea what was going to happen. I felt around 2 “letdowns” in those 5 hours and so I asked for a breast pump. Sadly I only pumped 2 times to save the first 12 hours I was in the hospital. The other times I had to pump and dump because first, I had a CT scan with contrast and was advised not to keep my breastmilk; second, they could not advise me about painkillers passing to the milk. I did some research and the results vary so I kept some if it was before the medications or after a few hours of taking them. To tell you the truth I could not pump very much since I was not allowed to drink any liquids for 2 full days. It was very frustrating. Yes, I had fluids through the iv but I still felt dehydrated and not even an ounce of milk was I able to pump. I felt defeated and desperate because I could feel my milk supply decreasing… 

So the three things to do after surgery to regain my supply are:

  1. Feed baby as often as she wants. Do not worry, I repeat, do not worry about creating a “bad” habit that she will want to do that all the time just because. She will not. We have to give our babies more credit, mine probably missed me and she wanted to be close to me more often after I got out of the hospital. That is great because it helps us produce more milk!
  2. Drink lots of liquids. Drink water, tea (the ones that are safe while nursing), juice, milk, etc. I drank a lot, mainly water.
  3. Have a good breakfast. It really sets the day off to a good start, and the healthier the better for our babies. I got out of the hospital and all I craved for breakfast was cream of wheat, malt-o-meal, or oatmeal. I would have a bowl of that first thing in the morning after my water and I would top it with some apple and pecans. After an hour or so, I would have eggs and ham or avocado toast, whatever I felt like eating.

And finally, if you feel that nothing is working let me tell you something about persistence. Yes, I felt like my milk supply was not coming back as soon as I wanted it, and as strong as it was before my surgery. I felt guilty because I could not put the surgery off any longer. I tried so many things to stop those gallstone attacks and getting rid of the stones, but nothing worked in the long run. I wanted to breastfeed my daughter for at least a year and at only 4 months that did not seem possible. But you know what? I persisted and my baby persisted. I remember the first 24 hours when I was home, she would latch on and would get upset because my milk would not come down right away as with the bottle. I was like “great! She got used to the bottle!” and felt sad because that meant I would have to pump and I truly disliked that. To tell you the truth I felt like I could not pump the same amount of milk she could drink from me. So we kept going, persisting, and now at 18 months old, I still nurse her once or twice! Keep going! You can do it!

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