Fact: Breastfeeding your baby after a C-section is possible and necessary.
It is understandable that moms giving operative birth would be a bit out of sorts following the operation, especially if they anticipated and planned vaginal birth.
Some may even think they would fail at everything else because they failed at normal delivery. But these thoughts and worries are unfounded, more so where nursing is concerned.
What You Must Know About Breastfeeding after a C-Section
Nothing can be sooner than right after birth
Sure, you received an epidural (regional anesthetic) for C-section, but it poses no danger to your baby when you breastfeed immediately after.
You may need assistance for that first latch-on, what with you still feeling weak from the delivery. Your husband, nurse or midwife can help prop you up slightly and support the baby.
Breastfeeding right after is crucial
Breastfeeding can help normalize whatever experience you might have had during a C-section, this is why you should not delay in nursing.
Even if you need time to recover, you should ensure that breastfeeding begins the earliest time possible. You can only put it off if you are struggling to stay conscious, or that you received general anesthesia rather than a regional one.
Breastfeed even when you receive painkillers and antibiotics
The antibiotics and painkillers you receive, whether via IV or oral intake, will have an effect on your milk. But the good news is that such medications are fine for both nursing mothers and babies, so there’s really no need to skip breastfeeding.
They make your baby a bit sleepy, but they also help you relax, so you get the milk production going.
Breastfeed as often as possible
Ideally, nursing should be done right after delivery or within the first hour. Even if you think you have an excuse to delay, because of the operative delivery you just had, you still should not.
This is because delaying breastfeeding will make it more difficult for your baby to nurse. This can also lead to severe engorgement.
Nurse your child as soon as possible. You should also do it more often to keep engorgement from happening. You should breastfeed 2 hours daily at the very least and no longer than a 4-hour interval at night.
During the early weeks, you should aim for 10 to 12 feedings per 24 hours. If you keep feeding often, it will also help you calm and relax, which is vital to a new mother.
Encourage milk production
You know that breastfeeding often will stimulate milk production. But it’s also a fact that a stressful C-section will cause the milk to come later, anywhere from day 2 to day 6.
If you breastfeed right after giving birth, however, you will encourage milk supply. If needed, use a hospital-grade breast pump. If you nurse frequently, greater milk production will be encouraged at one week and thereafter.
Try various nursing positions
While you’re still healing from your C-section, breastfeeding with the traditional cradle hold could be uncomfortable for you and tough on your stomach. You should experiment with other nursing positions.
This is where you tuck the baby beside you while you nurse. Set the baby on a pillow placed between your side and arm, where the baby’s head will be cradled.
Don’t hesitate to ask help to sit somewhat upright and find the most comfortable position.
This position is the most comfortable for many moms who just had an operative birth as it provides the easiest way to nurse and rest at the same time. It takes a bit of practice to get it right, however.
This is especially because the baby needs to be placed on their side with their feet drawn close to your body, and you need to lie down in a way that you can roll your body forward or pull the baby toward you without difficulty.
Get help when going home
Don’t want to stay at the hospital for an extended length of time? If the doctor allows you to leave the hospital, you must ensure to have help at home, especially in getting rest and nourishment as much as possible.
Have your partner stay with you at home for several weeks. If this is not possible, have a lactation consultant visit you at home for a couple of days in a week, at the very least. Whichever is the case, you must have assistance at home to help you heal and care for your baby the best way possible.
Advantage of Breastfeeding
- Stimulate milk production and ensure an abundant supply
- Promote bonding between mother and child
- Release the hormone oxytocin that can help the uterus contract
- Gives babies the gift of colostrum – low in fat, and high in antibodies, protein and carbohydrates