Breastfeeding After a Caesarean Section Delivery

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If you’ve recently had a C-section, whether planned or unexpected, you will want to know the impact of surgery on your breastfeeding abilities. Breastfeeding offers benefits to both mother and baby, so naturally, you will want to breastfeed your newborn and form that special connection with them. A c-section may make some aspects of nursing difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t breastfeed. You can breastfeed, indeed! Read on to learn more about breastfeeding after a C-section delivery, tips that help in breastfeeding, and some positions that you could try!

Video: Breastfeeding After Cesarean – Tips and Positions

Tips for Breastfeeding Right After a C-section

Recovering from a C-section delivery is a long process and therefore breastfeeding should be done by exercising certain precautions. There are instances where moms have been denied breastfeeding their baby right after C-section due to reasons concerning their or the baby’s health. However, it is important to be aware of the different ways in which you can prepare yourself to do so. It is important to express your wish to your doctor beforehand and thereafter do your bit. Following are some tips that will help you to do so.

1. Be Informed and Prepared: For starters, it is a good idea to think about all the possibilities before you deliver. Find out about the experiences of other mothers, but also keep in mind that their experience might not be your experience too.

2. Speak to Your Doctor: Make sure you consult your doctor to get a medical perspective on the issue. Your doctor will identify the best possible solutions keeping in mind your medical history. It is definitely possible to immediately start breastfeeding after delivery. Depending on your health and the type of anaesthesia used, it should not interfere with your breast milk and the breastfeeding process.

3. Seek Support: If you want to start breastfeeding in the operating room, ensure your partner, or a loved one fit to handle a baby, is around. Manoeuvring right after surgery may be difficult but with a little help and supervision, you should be okay. Using a C-section breastfeeding pillow will make the process easier as it bears the weight of the baby and protects your wound from injury.

4. Experiment With Different Types of Holds: The most conventional ‘cradle’ hold may not be comfortable for you at this point in time as your stitches are still fresh and you are still recovering from the surgery. Instead, consult your lactation expert/doctor to suggest a position that you’ll be most comfortable with along with your baby.

5. Patience is the Key: Being hard on yourself is a complete no-no. If you are a first-time mother, you will require some time to get used to this. Milk production takes time, latching takes trials and errors, and your baby needs time to get accustomed to the process. However, remember you too are healing and being patient with yourself is a must.

When to Breastfeed If You Have Had a C-Section

The best time to breastfeed is as soon as possible. You can begin in the operating room, right after the surgery. It is a healthy newborn’s natural instinct to want to be fed, 20-30 minutes after birth, (if he or she is not drowsy from the drugs or anaesthesia given to you during labour.) They also have an innate ability to suckle and latch on. Having said that, keep these things in mind:

1. With prior consultation and approval from your doctor, you can opt for skin-to-skin feeding. Through this method, you can help stimulate your baby’s nursing instincts wherein the contact will help your baby naturally reach for your breast. This also helps regulate your baby’s temperature, making it more comfortable and natural for him or her overall.

2. It’s quite possible that you will be in pain right after delivery and for a while after. Ask your doctor or anesthesiologist for medication or pain killers that will help you feel comfortable yet will allow you to be alert and present enough to connect with your baby. Pain is known to suppress milk production so it’s important that your body is comfortable. Since you will be on pain medication, your baby too will most likely be slightly drowsy and lethargic. This is normal and breastfeeding can proceed under these circumstances even if it means a little more work, patience and coaxing from your side.

3. Your temperature may rise post-delivery and you may develop a slight fever. This is most definitely okay and not a reason to get scared or stop thinking about breastfeeding. Just keep a tab on your hygiene before allowing your baby to make contact with your breast and nipple so as to not pass on any germs.

Best Positions of Breastfeeding After a C- Section Delivery

Breastfeeding may be quite uncomfortable for the mother after delivery especially if it is a C-section. Holding your baby may put pressure on your scars and stitches and could cause discomfort. Following are a few positions you could try however choose the one you feel most comfortable in.

1. Cradle Hold

Immediate breastfeeding post-delivery might result in you completely resting on your back with limited movement. This should, however, not deter you from breastfeeding your baby. While you are lying down, try positioning your baby across your breasts, almost in a cradle-like position. This will ensure that the baby is far from the incision on your belly and close enough to a natural breastfeeding position that you will probably follow later on. If you cannot do it yourself, enlist your partner or loved one’s help.

2. Side-Lying Position

It may get tiring and frustrating to lie on your back the entire time, for hours and maybe days at a stretch. It is possible and might even be comfortable for you to switch it up and turn to your side to nurse your baby. Once you find a comfortable side position, have your baby placed in a cuddling form with a small pillow in front of your incision to avoid any contact. This may be the most comfortable for you and your baby, plus a great chance to make the much-needed mother to baby contact. Ensure you are surrounded by plenty of pillows on all sides to keep it safe and comfortable at the same time. You can also use a pillow or small towel to wedge a gap between your incision on the abdomen and the bed.

3. Football Hold

If you have access to a breastfeeding pillow or a similarly shaped pillow, then you can also opt for keeping the baby on the pillow as you nurse so as to avoid contact with the incision. Popularly known as a ‘football hold’ this position ensures that your baby gets proper care and milk.

Remember, the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to supply nutrition for your newborn. Try all these positions until you find the one that is most comfortable and suitable for your lifestyle and condition.

What to Do If You May Not Be Able to Breastfeed Soon After C-Section Delivery

Breastfeeding right after delivery is essential to build the connection between you and your baby, however, it may not be possible for all women to breastfeed after undergoing a C-section delivery. Also, if your baby’s condition needs immediate attention and for some reason, he or she is under observation and therefore not with you, ensure you pump your milk since the first milk your body produces, known as colostrum, is the most potent, powerful and beneficial for your baby. It is replete with essential anti-biotics that your baby can benefit from all his/her life. No reason why you can’t give your baby the best anyway.

Effects on Breastfeeding If You Have C Section

This is a good time to remind yourself that everyone’s body is different therefore while there are certain norms, you may find it difficult to produce breast milk due to something you are going through. Sometimes the effects of anaesthesia take longer to wear off. In these circumstances, you may not wake up as soon as you’d like and hence the breastfeeding process may get delayed. Those who have an epidural tend to bounce back faster.

Is it Safe to Take Pain Medication While Breastfeeding?

There is no reason to not take pain medication while breastfeeding, as your body might need a little help to bounce back after the C-section. However, understand that dosages and follow-ups are important to eventually wean off. Taking them for a short period of time and in small doses, as prescribed is fine and won’t affect your baby too much besides slight drowsiness.

When it comes to giving and getting medical assistance for your baby, avoid nipple confusion and request that your baby be given supplements via oral syringe or alternative methods and not via bottle.

When Will You Start Producing Milk?

Believe it or not, your body actually makes milk automatically in response to your hormones. Even when you aren’t breastfeeding your baby, your body continues to produce milk. Normally, it takes 3-4 days for a new mom to breastfeed. But If you’ve had a baby before, it could happen even sooner. Ideally, your breasts will start feeling fuller and ready to milk a couple of days after you give birth.

Things to Encourage Good Milk Supply

Don’t be alarmed if your milk flow isn’t as stable and frequent as you’ve been told by others. It’s normal post a C-section to have slower and infrequent milk flow. However, you can inculcate a few routines in your life to keep it on track.

1. Cuddle With Your Baby: Enjoy ‘cuddle time’ as much as physically possible. This will encourage your baby to reach out regularly when hungry and in turn will stimulate healthy milk flow.

2. Don’t Encourage Engorgement: Monitor your baby’s hunger and  make sure it’s regular. Also, make small adjustments to encourage frequent feeding. You will need to try and nurse as regularly as possible, every 2-3 hours, day and night preferably. This will help you maintain regularity and also discourage engorgement.

3. Use a Breast Pump: Even if you’re drowsy or sleepy, make sure your partner is aware of this schedule to help you along the way. Investing in a breast pump may be a fruitful option especially if you can’t be with your baby at all times.

4. Keep a Check on The Surroundings: Try to find a tranquil environment or environment it in your hospital room. If you as a mother feel comfortable, at peace and supported, you’ll be able to pass that on to your baby essentially helping you to manage your milk supply.

5. Save Your Energy: Limit the number of visits you have. Meeting too many people and hosting them will drain you and may affect the supply of milk. Visiting can happen once you are able to handle your new bundle of joy and responsibilities.

The struggle to breastfeed after a C-section delivery is real and plenty of women experience it since having a C-section is more common nowadays than ever before. Having said that, do remember that with a little patience, preparation and guidance, you will be able to handle it easily.

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