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Can I Breastfeed After Gastric Bypass Surgery?

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Updated February 12, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Can I Breastfeed After Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Answer:

Yes, you can breastfeed after gastric bypass surgery. Breastfeeding is not only possible, it's encouraged as long as you carefully manage your nutritional status, take your vitamin and mineral supplements, and see your baby's doctor regularly.

Gastric bypass surgery is performed to help you lose weight and lower your risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. The surgery reduces the size of your stomach and bypasses the top portion of your small intestine. This decreases the amount of calories that you take in each day and helps you lose weight, but it also affects your body's ability to absorb some important nutrients.

After gastric bypass surgery, it is recommended to wait at least two years before becoming pregnant. Rapid weight loss, a lower daily calorie intake, and a limited ability to absorb folate, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron can put you and your baby at risk for nutritional deficiencies. It is very important to follow the recommended post-surgery diet, eat enough protein each day and take your vitamin and mineral supplements. A poor nutritional status can affect the quantity and quality of your breast milk.

What You Should Do:

  • Follow all of your post surgery instructions.

  • Adhere to your diet and make sure you eat the recommended amount of protein each day.

  • Take all of the daily supplements that are prescribed to you.

  • Wait two years after your surgery before getting pregnant.

  • Make sure your doctor monitors your nutritional status while you are pregnant and when you are breastfeeding. This may require having your blood tested often.

  • Breastfeed often to maintain a healthy supply of breast milk.

  • Have your baby monitored regularly to ensure proper growth and development.

If you are compliant with your follow-up care, you abide by your doctor's instructions, and you are mindful of your nutritional needs, you will have a greater chance of breastfeeding successfully after weight loss surgery.

Sources:

La Leche League International. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Eight Edition. Ballantine Books. New York. 2010.

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