It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the pain and the physical and emotional exhaustion after undergoing a cesarean section, and it can add some obstacles to successful breastfeeding. It can be difficult, but it is still possible! Below are some tips that can help you overcome the challenges and successfully breastfeed after your c-section.
Many women face a few common obstacles to successful breastfeeding after a cesarean section, but if you take your time, accept help, get enough rest and stick with it, you can overcome the challenges and breastfeed successfully.
Start breastfeeding as soon as possible
If possible, the time immediately after your baby is born is the best time to start breastfeeding, you will still be under the effects of the epidural or spinal anaesthesia and probably not yet feeling any discomfort.
If it’s necessary that you have general anaesthesia, your recovery will take longer and you might not be able to breastfeed right away. If so, ask to hold your baby skin-to-skin. Skin-to-skin contact within the first 24 hours after birth helps you to bond with your baby and can help you to start to breastfeed. If you are unable to have this contact, you’ll still be able to breastfeed, it just might take longer for your baby to latch on and for your milk supply to come in.
Get help positioning your baby
The positioning of your baby on the breast is very important to help establish breastfeeding and prevent nipple soreness, whatever hold you use, make sure your baby’s body is close to you, chest to chest, chin to breast and nose away from the breast. Positioning your baby when breastfeeding post-op can get a little tricky, not only will you have an abdominal incision to protect, but there will also be an IV line and potentially even a blood pressure cuff in the way as well. Enlist the help of your partner, a nurse or a lactation consultant to help you get you and your baby into position.
Breastfeed very frequently
Even though you might be exhausted and in pain, it’s important to breastfeed early and often, feeding your baby as often and for as long as they want. Breastfeeding at least every two hours during the day, and with a night time span of no longer than 4 hours is recommended, aiming for 10-12 feedings per day in the early weeks. This will mean that your baby is getting the right amount of milk at the right time, and it will also encourage your body to produce the right amount of milk for your baby.
Use a pump if you can’t be with your baby
If something, such as illness, prevents you from being able to put your baby to breast, it is still important for your body to express breastmilk, you should begin pumping with a hospital-grade breast pump. You should pump every two to three hours to encourage your body to continue to produce milk.
Take advantage of the extra time in hospital
You will spend a little bit more time in hospital than someone who has had a vaginal delivery. While this time is important for rest and recovery, it also allows you more time with hospital staff and the lactation consultant. Utilise this time to ask as many questions as you can, and learn as much as possible about breastfeeding your baby. This way, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable breastfeeding when you get home.
Get extra rest
Some mothers find that it takes them longer to return to their normal energy levels after a c-section than if they had a vaginal birth. As you have just undergone major abdominal surgery, take care not to lift or move anything heavier than your baby for 6 weeks, or until your postnatal check-up. Make sure you have someone to help you out at home while you’re recovering, whether it be your partner, a friend or another family member, you will need extra time to rest while you recover.
If you have any questions regarding breastfeeding after a cesarean section or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most trusted obstetricians in Sydney and will be thrilled to give you complete and compassionate care in every way possible.