About one third of births are through Cesarean section, so you’re not alone new C-section moms. While this type of delivery shouldn’t affect breastfeeding, there are some things you should know and be ready for once your bundle of joy comes into this world.
Table of Contents
- 1. Take a Breastfeeding Class
- 2. Opt for Skin-to-Skin During Suturing
- 3. Make Sure Your Doctor Knows Your Wishes
- 4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
- 5. You May Have Trouble Finding a Comfortable Position
- 6. You May Have to Wait to Start Nursing
- 7. A C-Section May Affect Your Milk Supply
- 8. Don’t Stop Taking Your Pain Meds
- 9. Make Sure Everyone Knows This Is a Team Effort
1. Take a Breastfeeding Class
All moms-to-be can benefit from taking a breastfeeding class. These classes can help you know what to expect during your first feeding, which can be comforting if your C-section is unplanned. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes.
2. Opt for Skin-to-Skin During Suturing
Provided it’s safe for you and the baby, ask for skin-to-skin contact during suturing. The nurses may need to take the baby away to get cleaned up and tested, but that skin-to-skin contact will allow for early bonding and get your baby rooting for your breast.
More progressive hospitals will even let new moms nurse right after the C-section – while they’re still in the operating room.
3. Make Sure Your Doctor Knows Your Wishes
Doctors and nurses cannot read your mind. Make sure that your wishes are known, so your baby can start nursing as soon as possible.
Request that the nurses and staff not give your baby a bottle or pacifier while you and your baby are separated. Your nipple should be the first thing your baby is offered. This will help avoid confusion or lack of desire for the breast.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
It’s okay to ask for help during your first feeding. Your arms may still be numb from the anesthesia, so you may have difficulty holding your newborn. Ask your spouse to position your little one until you regain some of that feeling in your arms.
The hospital should have a lactation consultant you can speak with before you’re discharged from the hospital. He or she will provide you with tips and help if needed.
Remember to be patient with yourself, especially if this is your first child. Being a mom doesn’t come with a user manual. Everything is still new to you. Just keep nursing. You and your little one will figure it out along the way.
5. You May Have Trouble Finding a Comfortable Position
Finding a comfortable position for nursing can be a challenge after a C-section. Right now you’re in a lot of pain, so finding a good nursing position can be near impossible.
Sitting up while nursing and using the clutch hold can help make the entire process more comfortable. The clutch hold is also called the football hold. This is when you support the baby with a breastfeeding pillow to take the pressure off your sensitive tummy.
If you get tired of sitting up, try nursing on your side. Laying on your side will help minimize the pain while also letting you get some much-needed rest.
Some women also prefer the crossover hold with a breastfeeding pillow on your lap and your baby resting on top.
Be sure to have lots of pillows around (you’ll need them for sleeping anyway), and use them to prop yourself up in comfortable positions. Have a good nursing pillow and plenty of other comfortable regular pillows to place under your hips, side, legs and/or back.
6. You May Have to Wait to Start Nursing
If you and/or your baby are feeling extra groggy after the anesthesia, you may have to wait a few hours to start nursing. If you still can’t nurse after 12 hours, ask about using a pump to start expressing colostrum and lactating.
It may take some time for your milk to come in, which is common among women who have C-sections. Be patient, and pump if necessary to start lactating and get your baby the nutrients she needs. Avoid supplementing with anything unless medically necessary.
Missing feedings will reduce milk removal and breast stimulation, which are both needed to increase your milk supply.
7. A C-Section May Affect Your Milk Supply
Some moms find that a Cesarean birth affects their milk supply. For some, it takes a little bit longer for the milk to come in. The delay in your supply delivery is probably due to the extra stress of having surgery.
Skin-to-skin contact can keep your milk supply on track, but it’s equally important to get that first nursing session in as soon as possible.
You can also keep your supply on track by nursing every three hours (all day and night), or pumping if you can’t be with your baby to nurse in the first 12 hours after birth.
Aim for 10-12 feedings every 24 hours in the first few weeks after birth.
Provided your baby is nursing well, you shouldn’t need to supplement any kind of formula.
8. Don’t Stop Taking Your Pain Meds
The doctor will prescribe you pain medication after delivery, so make sure that you take them. It may be tempting to forgot the medication, but you’re sure to be in a lot of pain. That pain can interfere with your breastfeeding efforts.
Just be sure to take your medication at safe doses and make sure they’re safe for use while breastfeeding. Consult with your doctor if you have concerns about your pain meds.
9. Make Sure Everyone Knows This Is a Team Effort
It takes a village to raise a child. When you bring your newborn home, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Make sure everyone knows that this is a team effort.
Have your spouse or partner help around the house during feedings – you’ll be feeding often. Ask someone to bring a big glass of water each time you nurse to keep you hydrated (very important).
A C-section is major surgery, and you won’t be able to do any housework at first. Focus on nursing, recovering and bonding with your newborn. Ask friends, family members and all household members to pitch in and take care of the house in those first few weeks after birth.
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding or it’s causing you pain, talk to your doctor to see what can be done to help alleviate the problem.