Breastfeeding after a Cesarean Section

Many women worry whether or not it is possible to breastfeed after they have had a cesarean section. It is, of course, possible, though it may be a little more difficult during the first few weeks. If your cesarean section was unexpected, you may be a bit thrown off in terms of feeding. You had expected a natural delivery, and now you’re not so sure what to do. You can prevent this anxiety by putting together a birth plan. This can help you decide on your desires and expectations no matter what kind of delivery you have. You will want to discuss the birth plan with your doctor. Be sure he or she has a copy. You will also want the hospital to have a copy of your birth plan on file. One of the things you want to address in your birth plan is the anesthetics that are available if you have a cesarean section. If you can have an epidural, you can be alert enough to breastfeed your baby directly after delivery. Keep in mind, though, that you are going to need some assistance, whether from your partner or a nurse. The hospital equipment, like the IV and the heart monitor may be a bit restrictive, so getting some help is absolutely necessary. Moreover, you will have to have your first feeding lying on your back, so some pillows might also be very helpful for that first feeding.

The first feeding will probably be a bit rough after your cesarean, but so will the feeding your newborn in the first hours after your surgery. You will need extra assistance in your room throughout your hospital stay. The baby’s father should be able to help, but if not, find someone else who can stay with you to lift the baby, change the diapers, and so on. Your movement will be restricted for several days, and having someone in the room to help you will ensure that you can get your breastfeeding schedule off to a good start. It will also help you avoid engorgement in those first few days after your milk comes in.

You will probably be given medication following your cesarean section. This may cause concern, because the medication will almost certainly be passed to your baby during the feeding process. However, the medications you are given will be safe for your baby. By the time your milk comes in, you may not even need the medication. Skip the pain medication if you feel you can because it may make you more alert to respond to your baby’s early feeding cues. You might even ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take over the counter medications, as they may help you stay more alert. Be sure, though, that you take enough medication to keep you comfortable. If you are in pain, you won’t be able to respond to your baby as well as you might if you feel well.

Feeding after a C-section can be tough, but with the right assistance, both you and your baby can make breastfeeding work.