Breastfeeding after cesarean delivery:
A common circumstance is a cesarean delivery, which is often called a cesarean section, rather than a vaginal delivery. If the cesarean section is done without planning, you may have had a long and difficult labor. If that’s the case, your doctor will be more concerned about your rest and recovery and less likely to encourage you to breastfeed your baby right after delivery. You may also feel frustrated by this unexpected change in plans, which can inhibit your breast milk from coming in and out. On the other hand, women who have planned cesarean sections often know what to expect and are fully prepared to breastfeed their newborn babies.
The good news is that your method of delivery has little effect on your ability to breastfeed your baby. Your breast milk will arrive as soon as it is available just as if you had a vaginal delivery. It is especially important to start breastfeeding as soon as you can and to continue breastfeeding your baby frequently to ensure a good milk supply. Even if you need a few hours to recover from your surgery, you can breastfeed your baby as soon as you feel ready.
Breastfeeding after a cesarean delivery or c section
Use of pain medications
Most medications given to mothers who deliver by cesarean delivery do not seriously affect the baby. You will probably be given a regional anesthetic, such as an epidural, instead of the general anesthesia that previously made women unconscious during labor. Since less regional anesthesia enters your bloodstream than with general anesthesia, it causes less sedation in the newborn.
Some newborns tend to be a little sleepy after an epidural and may suck less enthusiastically at first, but there are no long-term negative effects on the development of full-term babies or their ability to breastfeed. . Even if you are given general anesthesia, you should be able to breastfeed your baby as soon as he is awake enough. When you are being counseled on cesarean delivery, it is a good idea to remind your obstetrician and anesthesiologist that you intend to breastfeed.
After your cesarean delivery, your doctor will give you pain medicine, initially through your IV therapy and later through a pill, to help you feel comfortable. In most cases, some of this medicine passes through your breast milk to your baby. Some pain medications can temporarily make your newborn a little sleepy, but the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh this possible numbness. Pain interferes with the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps your milk flow easily to your baby, so proper pain management is important. If you have any concerns about the pain medicine they are offering, speak with your doctor or lactation consultant.
How to get comfortable
Your abdominal incision may make it a bit more difficult for you to find a comfortable position to nurse your baby at first. You may adapt some of the basic positions by sitting upright in bed, using an extra pillow or two to hold your baby on your lap and protect your incision, lying on your side with your baby facing you, or using a position as if you were holding a soccer ball with enough pillows to raise your baby’s head to breast level.
Make sure you get into a comfortable position before you start breastfeeding and don’t be shy about asking for help. As your incision heals and you can move more easily, breastfeeding will be easier but expect to need a little rest and extra help until you are fully healed. Be grateful for help from family and friends with household chores so that you can focus on recovering from surgery and breastfeeding your baby.