Can you breastfeed after having c-section or (cesarean section)?
It may come as a shock but there is still a huge misconception about breastfeeding after having a c-section delivery. Of course when a new mom gives birth the old-fashioned way – vaginal childbirth, she is likely to have the baby put directly on her chest right after giving birth and is able to breastfeed her baby soon after that.
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When you have a c-section delivery, of course, things are a bit different. The new mom is taken into the OR (operation room) and things are kept sterile. Then once everything is prepared the doctor makes incisions across your lower abdomen through your uterine wall and brings the newborn baby into the world surgically.
The problem then lies with whether the mother can breastfeed successfully with having a painful surgical incision and not having her baby immediately after giving birth. In some cases of course if there is an emergency where the mother is put to sleep for an emergency cesarean or if the baby has difficulty directly after birth there may be a little difficulty establishing breastfeeding.
However, if you have a planned c-section and everything goes as planned or a non-emergency c-section due to the delivery not progressing these tips could certainly work for you.
Here are 9 tips for successful breastfeeding after a c-section.
1. Take a Breastfeeding Class
I cannot express this enough. Please take a breastfeeding class. Most hospitals even offer free baby club classes for soon to be parents to help you through pregnancy, labor and delivery, and even postpartum.
When I was pregnant with my first child I took some amazing classes and learned so many things about labor and delivery that I would never have thought to ask. And since I wanted to breastfeed as well, I took an amazing breastfeeding class taught by my hospitals certified lactation consultant. It was so informative and gave me confidence.
The breastfeeding classes are great but there is also this amazing breastfeeding class that you can take directly from the comfort of your home on your computer. It is called Milkology and it is taught by an amazing certified lactation educator and mom of 3. She has single handily helped thousands of new moms and can help you too.
Her videos are so helpful and once you see how a baby latches and nurses you will understand more of what to look for.
2. Make your Plans Known to your Doctor
This one is super important as well. Make sure that you are upfront and completely honest with your doctor about your expectations during delivery. For example, if you are planning to breastfeed let your doctor know.
I would also encourage you to let your nurses know about your plans for breastfeeding once you are admitted for your childbirth or c-section. This way they know what your expectations are and can likely assist you after birth.
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3. Skin to Skin Contact
Skin to skin contact is one of the biggest triggers for your body to help you produce milk. Some other benefits of skin to skin contact is it helps your baby to stabilize their body temperature, boost bonding, and make the transition from the womb easier on your baby.
The best time to begin skin to skin contact with a newborn baby is directly after birth or as soon as possible. I was able to ask my doctor to let me have my baby directly on my chest for skin to skin contact right after they were cleaned up and weighed. It truly made a huge difference for me.
4. Latch Baby on Breast ASAP
Just like skin to skin contact, you want to try to latch your baby as soon as you can after birth. Luckily, I was able to latch my babies when I made it to recovery and was so comforted by this. My nurse was so nice to help me correctly get my baby properly latched and nursing right away.
Getting the correct latch is so super important so try to make sure to ask your nurse for help if you are unsure of how to latch your newborn baby. Don’t feel silly about it. Everyone has to start somewhere.
5. Lactation Consultant
In my hospital, the certified lactation consultant always came around to check on your breastfeeding progress before you left the hospital. This was such a nice asset to have when breastfeeding for the first time.
Of course, if you ever have any doubt or wonder if you are latching your baby onto your breast correctly, call in the lactation consultant. That is what they are there for. Don’t worry about bothering them. I promise. They want you to succeed at breastfeeding your baby and will help in any way you can.
6. Protect Your Incision
You have just been literally cut open in the middle of your body so now you have this burning and painful incision to care for. When you first try to breastfeed your baby, the likely place you would lay your baby is across your belly (where your incision is). Any and all pressure on this area is likely to cause you some pain so the best way to combat that is to put something in between your healing incision and your hungry newborn baby.
One thing you can try is placing a pillow on your stomach to help support your baby while also providing a cushion for your incision. And that may certainly work just fine. However, I personally loved using the boppy pillow. It was just the right shape to wrap around my body while also being firm enough to lift my baby up to my breast.
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7. Find a Comfortable Breastfeeding Position
You may not knot but there are tons of different positions to breastfeed your baby in. Everyone knows just the average cradle hold which is where you cradle your baby on your lap and latch your baby on the breast that is on the side of their face. But you can always try different ways to nurse your baby to keep you more comfortable.
One popular breastfeeding position is called the “football hold,” which is where you cradle your baby with one arm and support of pillows (you may need a little help getting into this position at first) and have your baby’s head facing towards the front of your body. You then latch your baby on whatever side you are holding them on and nurse. This position can be great for c-section moms who need to keep the pressure off of their incision.
Another popular breastfeeding position that I absolutely loved was the “side-lying position,” which is where you lie on your side, have your baby facing you while lying on their side, and then latch your baby to the breast that is closest to the bed. Once I got used to using this position it was how I breastfeed my baby every single night before bed. It is super comfortable and takes all of the pressure off or your incision after a c-section.
8. Consider Cosleeping with Baby
Cosleeping was always a part of my plans when I was pregnant with my babies. Now when I say cosleeping I mean having them in a bassinet or some other type of cosleeper next to my bed. I wanted my baby to be as close to me as possible so I would be able to reach them for easy nursing throughout the night.
Having my baby close by in a cosleeper also prevented me from having to get up and walk to a different room to breastfeed my newborn all throughout the night.
9. Ask for Help
After having a c-section you are going to need help so don’t be shy about asking for it. I have had two c-sections and they were both much easier with my husband by my side helping me. Make sure to take care of yourself to help your body to heal. This means if you need your husband or family member to bring you the baby to breastfeed ask for help. And if you need help burping or changing your baby ask for help.
Going through childbirth through a major abdominal surgery can take a tole so don’t hesitate to ask for some help when you need it. Your healing process and your breastfeeding journey will go much smoother if you have a little help.
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