Breastfeeding After a Cesarean
Following a baby’s birth, breastmilk production will start regardless of the delivery method. As soon as the placenta is removed from the mother’s body, the hormones in charge of making milk go to work.
Depending on how the mother is feeling at the moment of delivery, she can begin skin to skin contact with her newborn right after delivery with the help of her husband or nurse. This will allow the baby to initiate breastfeeding and it a great opportunity to bond with your infant before the discomfort from surgery appears after the anesthesia wears off.
If the mother feels uncomfortable, dizzy or sedated, the father could start skin to skin with his newborn while the mother recuperates from surgery. In some instances, mom will have to request that her baby be brought to her. This can be taken care of by mom expressing her wishes regarding early skin to skin contact and breastfeeding initiation on her birth plan.
Some mothers find laying on their side to be very helpful with breastfeeding in the early days after a cesarean. The use of pillows to support your back, head and knees, while also protecting your abdomen (where the incision is) from baby’s sudden movements, will facilitate breastfeeding. For the first couple of days, you may need the assistance of your partner or a nurse to position and hold your infant, along with helping you switch sides. After a few days of recovery time, you will be able to hold your baby by yourself.
The football hold is a position that will help keep your baby away from your incision entirely. Many women like this position because they have a better view of the latch process and feel more in control.
For the cradle hold and crossed cradle positions, have some pillows on your lap to keep baby away from the incision and to bring him to breast level and facilitate latch. You will need to sit as straight as you possibly can without feeling pain. Some mothers find it more comfortable to sit in a chair than trying to straighten on the hospital bed.
Frequent feedings are important for the establishment of breastfeeding. Rooming in is a way to ensure those frequent feedings as it will help you identify and respond to baby’s hunger cues. Some hospitals will not allow rooming in with your baby after a cesarean unless you have a family member staying with you through the night.
Talk to your healthcare provider and/or nursing staff about any concerns you may have regarding post-cesarean pain medications. They are typically compatible with breastfeeding.
A cesarean section might not be the birth you wanted, but don be hard on yourself. Enjoy holding and touching your newborn. Spend time with him and keep the visitor count down to a minimum to help with bonding.
When you get home, ask friends and family to come and help you with the house chores while you recuperate from the birthing process and surgery.