While there are some complications that can happen with breastfeeding after a c-section, there are plenty of things you can do to be successful! Here are 6 helpful tips for successful breastfeeding when you’ve had a c-section.
Breastfeeding after a c-section may seem overwhelming to some new mothers.
You may have read that it will be extra painful or that your milk supply won’t come in.
You may be worried about not getting “The Golden Hour” or being separated for an extended period of time.
You may worry about being too exhausted from anesthesia or if it will make your baby extra tired.
These are all legitimate concerns and fears – but I am here to tell you this:
Having a C-section Doesn’t Mean Doomed Breastfeeding
In fact, many mothers go on to breastfeed successfully right away after a C-Section. Having the report support and education can help a lot.
My online breastfeeding class is a great option for preparing before you give birth, whether or not you know if you’ll have a C-section or not. You can take it anytime, anywhere, and it is designed to prepare mothers around the world to make the best decisions for their family – in under three hours!)
In this post – 8 Breastfeeding Problems After a C-Section (And What You Can Do!) – I discuss common breastfeeding problems and solutions…but in this post…well, we are going to talk about what you can do to make breastfeeding a little more likely after a C-section.
1. Meet with a lactation consultant while pregnant
Knowing what to expect from breastfeeding after delivery is vital if you’re planning on exclusive nursing. The first couple of weeks of breastfeeding are not easy, doesn’t matter if you gave birth naturally or via c-section.
The planned meeting with a lactation consultant will help you be more confident about breastfeeding, find out the nuances and even learn the right techniques for breastfeeding.
You can also use the help of the local lactation consultant in the hospital after the surgery. She will provide you with the tips and support you need.
It can also be helpful to figure out if there are any local breastfeeding groups that you can attend after giving birth. Many hospitals actually have them!
2. Tell your doctor you want to breastfeed
This is extremely important.
Make sure you let your doctor know your plans on breastfeeding so that he can assist you with that right after birth.
Many hospitals are allowing mother and baby to be together immediately after a c-section, barring any complications. If you know you will be having a c-section, seek out a hospital that supports family-centered c-sections.
3. Skin-to-skin with the baby ASAP
The skin-to-skin contact evokes the natural instinct for milk production. The body starts producing oxytocin- the milk-making hormone which is responsible for the release of breast milk from the nipple.
Holding your baby skin-to-skin also helps the baby to make the transition from the womb less stressful and it does help with bonding a lot.
Some mothers aren’t able to do skin-to-skin right away after a c-section, and that’s okay! As soon as you are reunited, you can get started on this practice and still reap many of the benefits.
4. Start breastfeeding early and do it frequently
Put your baby to the breast as soon as you can. The early start of breastfeeding ensures a faster transition from the colostrum to mature milk. This will also help to avoid supplementation and encourage baby to learn to breastfeed.
The frequent breastfeeding is as much important as an early start because it helps to produce an adequate milk supply.
Hand expressing after you. nurse can also help a lot with milk supply, especially if done in the first hour. You can give your baby whatever you hand express to help them out as well.
5. Pump if Necessary
Sometimes after you have a c-section, you may. not be able to breastfeed due to separation from your infant. This can be difficult, especially if you are hoping to breastfeed.
I would suggest getting set up with a hospital grade breast pump right away and get started on a regular pumping schedule until you are able to start nursing your baby (or continue pumping if that’s what you decide to do!).
6. Find a comfortable breastfeeding positions
Breastfeeding after a c-section can be really difficult. A mom stays immobile for some time due to the IV drip and the pain from the surgery and the contracting uterus.
A mom should also remember about the abdominal incision to protect, meaning that taking and holding the baby can be hard.
If something hurts – don’t think it’s necessary to just keep going. Try a new position and ask for help!
Be sure to read this post for more details on the best breastfeeding positions after a c-section.
There are a lot of different breastfeeding pillows out there, but if you are looking for one that would be especially great for c-sections, check out this one from Mama Llama Baby. It is so comfortable and customizable for all new moms, but if you had a c-section, it can make it easier to find a position that feels comfortable for you. Get 10% off with the code BFMAMA10.
7. Rest and Eat
Rest and sleep are crucial for faster recovery and milk production. Once you’re back home, you can set a breastfeeding station right beside your bed.
Make sure you’re eating enough calories. Keep in mind that you need an extra 500 calories while breastfeeding to provide your baby with high-quality nutrient-dense breast milk.
Don’t forget to hydrate your body with water. You need to drink more fluids than you used to in order to support your milk supply.
8. Manage Your Pain
Don’t suffer through pain. Make sure you are having your pain managed with breastfeeding appropriate medications (there are plenty of options!) Pain can make it harder for you to have a letdown and be very stressful, so keeping that pain under control from the start can make a big difference!
9. Ask for Lactation Support
Many hospitals have great lactation support – many do not. If your hospital has a lactation team, ask to visit with them as soon as possible after birth. I find that they can be the best source of information and support after giving birth in regards to breastfeeding.
If you aren’t able to get good breastfeeding support in the hospital, there are many private practice IBCLCs that can help. Finding someone before you give birth can make a big difference so you know who you can turn to right away if something isn’t going well.
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.