If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery in the last 24 months, chances are very likely that you will have challenges breastfeeding. What’s going on is that you and your baby are probably not getting enough vitamins, minerals or protein. And just like with vegetarianism (see our article on vegetarianism and breastfeeding), if baby isn’t getting enough B12, he’ll be too sleepy to breastfeed effectively and leave milk in the breast. Leaving milk in the breast results in lower milk production because the body see it as a sign that it is overproducing.
What to do about Gastric Bypass and Breastfeeding
Even if your gastric bypass surgery was more than 24 months ago, be sure to see your doctor for a blood test to see if you are low on any essential nutrients. Especially look at B12, iron, zinc, folic acid, calcium and protein as these play important roles in breastfeeding. Supplement anything that comes back “low” or “low normal.”
Even if your protein level isn’t low, be sure to eat at least half a gram of protein for each pound of body weight per day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, eat 80 grams of protein. There are many high protein bars, protein smoothie powders or premixed shakes that can help make up the difference in what you eat. Just check the weight lifting section in your local vitamin store.
If you’re breastfeeding and have had gastric bypass surgery in the past, correcting any low nutrient level should bring your milk supply back up fairly quickly (as long as it has not be low for very long, because the longer breastfeeding problems persist the more difficult they are to correct).
If fixing the nutrient levels that are a common problem of gastric bypass does not help with breastfeeding or milk supply, see our article on the 11 ways to increase milk supply or check your daily milk production.