Did you know that it’s possible to breastfeed successfully after a C-section? Here are four tips to help you:
After a C-section, you might find that your milk comes in a little later than what is considered normal. According to research, early sucking can help to stimulate milk production. Feeding or expressing in the first hour has shown to start lactation earlier and boost milk supply, compared to starting later.
So, put your beautiful bub to the breast as soon as they’re born if you can, even after an epidural or spinal anesthesia. If you have a general anaesthesia, you may need a little time to wake up before being able to feed or express. The nurses and midwives are there to support you and assist you to pump within the first 1-3 hours after birth. Even if you take longer to recover, they may be able to express you if you’re not able to.
The evidence of skin-to-skin contact for all babies immediately after birth suggests better breastfeeding outcomes. Your baby will be placed on your chest and remain there while your c-section wounds are being stitched up by the doctors.
The benefits of keeping mother and baby together after birth are well-recognised by many hospitals, which is why they have a zero separation policy. Even if you’re still groggy from the medications, the role of the hospital staff is to provide constant supervision, and ensure the health and safety of both you and your baby (or babies!).
Ask your hospital what their policy is on zero separation, and let them know who your backup person for skin-to-skin contact is if you’re unable to for some reason.
Frequent feeding or expressing will also help to stimulate milk production and boost your supply. Newborns have tiny tummies so they need to be filled from eight to twelve times per 24 hours, which means about every two to three hours on average. This varies widely between babies, so feed your baby whenever they let you know they’re hungry. If they’re stirring from sleep, crying, rooting, or you see them licking their lips or sucking their fists, let them feed for as long as they want.
If you’re finding breastfeeding challenging, you’re concerned your baby isn’t feeding effectively, or if you’re separated from your newborn for some reason, it’s important to start expressing a minimum of eight times in 24 hours. Always talk to your midwife, nurse, or lactation consultant if you have any concerns at all.
During recovery, you may experience some pain at the incision site, which is common. Your uterus contracting back to size can also be uncomfortable. Any pain that you experience can make breastfeeding more difficult.
Please ask your nurse for pain medications that are compatible with breastfeeding. If you can manage your pain, breastfeeding will be easier and recovery will be smoother. Ask your nurse, midwife, or lactation consultant to show you different feeding positions that will take the weight of your baby off the incision site.
Many mothers birth their babies by C-section, and while it can make breastfeeding more challenging, it’s absolutely possible to do so successfully if you follow these four important tips. If you breastfeed or express as soon as possible, as often as your baby needs, have plenty of skin-to-skin contact, and manage your pain, you’ll be off to a wonderful start.