Some women have to have a Cesarean section for delivery of their baby whether planned or unplanned. This does not mean you shouldn’t or can’t breastfeed. It can be helpful to understand the specific challenges you may encounter breastfeeding after a C-section to be best prepared and successful. Depending on the anesthesia given your baby may be a little sleepy after the delivery. Pain from the incision site can make breastfeeding a little more uncomfortable in the beginning. Try using football hold and the side lying position while your incision is healing. You can also place a pillow over the incision site area to protect if you nurse sitting up.
Start breastfeeding right away after C section
If you had an epidural you will be awake so asking for immediate skin to skin and to nurse. If you had general anesthesia ask for skin to skin and to nurse as soon as you safely can.
Get help positioning baby
You will have an incision site, IV line, and possibly a blood pressure cuff to protect so asking for help from your nurses, support person, or the hospital lactation consultant to show you breastfeeding holds that are most comfortable for you will help.
Keep your baby with you as much as possible and feed baby frequently
You will not be able to get up for a while to get your baby, but if you can have someone with you in order to keep your baby with you skin to skin as much as possible. Even though you may be exhausted and in pain you will want to breastfeed every 1-3 hours so that you can be the most successful in your breastfeeding journey. It may take a little more time for your milk to transition to mature milk with a caesarean over a vaginal birth so nursing or pumping every 1-3 hours will help stimulate your supply.
Use a breast pump
If you are separated from your baby at all you will want to use a breast pump. You will want to pump every 2-3 hours to stimulate your milk production. Check here to see if you qualify for a free pump through insurance
Stay on top of your pain medication
It is very important to stay on top of your medication in the beginning and not let the meds lapse. You will be more comfortable to breastfeed if you stay on top of your meds. Medication may also help you relax so your body can focus on healing and making milk. Even though the medication will be safe for your baby it may cause your baby to be a little sleepy. Breastfeeding can be a little more difficult with a sleepy baby, so you may have to strip your baby down and tickle their feet to wake them up.
Take advantage of the extra time in the hospital
You will spend a little more time in the hospital compared to a vaginal birth delivery. Take advantage of this time by asking questions and learning all you can from the nurses and hospital staff. This extra time will allow you to feel more confident and comfortable when you go home.
The emotions of a caesarean can be overwhelming especially if it was an unplanned or emergency that you were not prepared for mentally. When your birth does not go as expected you can experience feelings of loss and failure which can affect your emotions around breastfeeding. Know that these emotions are normal and you are not alone. Breastfeeding can actually help these emotions pass as you connect with your baby. Caesarn adds some common obstacles to breastfeeding and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the physical and emotional pain and exhaustion. Following these tips, taking your time, accepting help, breastfeeding as soon as you can, get enough sleep, and don’t give up because as you heal breastfeeding gets a lot easier.