Whether you have chosen a planned C-section for yourself and your baby due to personal choice, for medical reasons, or your birth plan has been affected by an emergency C-Section, you may be wondering about how breastfeeding plays into this delivery method. There are a lot of concerns and misconceptions around the subject of breastfeeding after a cesarean section. How soon after the procedure can you breastfeed? Will medicine hurt your baby? What about the pain? Below we will endeavor to present and dispel the most common misconceptions around breastfeeding after a C-section and give tips to help make the transition as simple as possible for you and your impending bundle of joy.
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4 Myths about Breastfeeding after a C-Section
Misconceptions and myths surround the process of breastfeeding after a C-section procedure. These misconceptions can vary depending on whether you have received a planned C-section or an emergency one as well.
1. You Cannot Breastfeed After Your Procedure
- This is the most common myth/misconception that surrounds breastfeeding after a cesarean section. While it is true that for some women who have been put under for their procedure that they need to wait to breastfeed, for most women who only receive an epidural for the surgery, breastfeeding immediately after the C-section is possible. You will need to ask for assistance from a midwife, nurse, doula, or your significant other, but it is possible to breastfeed. Simply use their assistance to shift your body into a more propped up position so you can place your child on your chest in a supportive pose. After that, breastfeeding should be able to commence normally.
2. Breastfeeding after a C-Section Is Painful
- While no one is arguing that a cesarean section is comparable to a day at the spa, it does not have to be painful to breastfeed after the surgery. One of the best ways to ensure you do not experience intense amounts of pain is to make sure you are in a position that is beneficial to both you and your baby. Most women will try to breastfeed in the traditional cradle hold, but this can put undue pressure and weight on your incision. By switching up this positioning, you can avoid this problem. One of the most recommended ways to breastfeed after the procedure is to lie on your side, with your baby chest to chest. This way you can curl them up into the fetal position, and still be able to have them latch correctly and avoid the weight and pressure. You can also use a pillow to support your baby during breastfeeding. However, feel free to trust your instincts. Whichever position works the best for you and your child is best.
3. The Medicine Will Affect My Baby
- This misconception is a deep concern for many new mothers. Because there is medicine in your blood stream, you might be concerned that the medicine will leak out through your milk into your baby. This can be true, but most doctors will give you medication that will not affect your baby. At most, your baby might be slightly sleepier than others might, but beyond that, there are very few side effects. The benefit of the pain medications given to you after a C-section, however, is that they will help you relax and potentially allow your milk to flow more easily. You should keep an eye on the amount of antibiotics given after the surgery, however. These are given routinely to keep infection at bay, but they can have the side effect of creating a yeast infection. This can result in thrush.
4. C-Sections Will Ruin My Milk
- This misconception has a small basis in reality. Because your body depends on the process of labor and the separation of your uterus and placenta to stimulate milk production, a cesarean section can confuse your body. This is especially true for women who have had to plan their procedure, rather than having an emergency one while they are already in labor. Your body is not aware it is in labor, and thus it may take a few hours or a few days for your milk supply to come in. The solution to this problem is to make sure that you are still nursing as much as possible. It is essential for you to continue to attempt to nurse every few hours as your baby demands it. Frequent nursing is the key to ensure your milk production. Try to avoid any sort of supply boosting supplements as they can make the confusion in your body worse, and might result in painful engorging once your supply does come in.
Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
While many of the tips that are most helpful in ensuring that breastfeeding after a C-section is as smooth as possible are listed above there are two smaller tips that might help make the process better.
- This is the number one tip for any mother who is starting to breastfeed after a cesarean procedure. Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help! You may feel like asking for help shows that you are not a super-mom, but breastfeeding after a C-section can be a trying period. You should enlist people you trust to help you with the process, such as your medical team, significant other, or friends and family. These people can help you get into a more comfortable position, prop up you or your baby, and in general just provide the cheerleading you might need.
- If you are expecting to plan your C-section, or you might be at high risk for an emergency C-section, you should discuss all of this information with your primary health care provider. They can help you establish a birth plan that includes establishing breastfeeding as a priority. You might also want to speak to a lactation specialist beforehand to learn as much as possible about the breastfeeding process. This knowledge can help you de-stress about the process, and will prepare you to face the challenges that can arise from breastfeeding after a C-section.