C-section recovery is uncomfortable and painful by itself. Let alone stressing yourself about breastfeeding while recovering.
That’s why the key to effective post-section nursing is trying to take it easy and following your body cues.
Cesarean delivery IS a major surgery. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics more than 20% of deliveries in the United States are Cesarean.
It doesn’t mean that since these happen fairly often, we should underestimate the seriousness of the surgery. It only means that doctors and lactation consultants with experience and training are there to help you recover and successfully breastfeed.
After the surgery a mother has two major tasks: healing
herself and breastfeeding her baby. It is a difficult multitasking. But it is crucial to start nursing as soon as possible.
C-section is performed either under regional (waist down) or general anesthesia:
-> Regional allows you to start breastfeeding as soon as the baby is given to you.
-> General requires a wear-off wait time of 4-8 hours. It is advisable to give your baby the breast within half an hour after you gain consciousness, if the doctor allows it.
If the doctor prescribes pain-relieving medicine or antibiotics, don’t ignore them. Physical pain will prevent you from relaxing and will slow down milk production. Inform the doctor that you are going to breastfeed. Medications prescribed to a breastfeeding woman are safe for the baby.
When you start breastfeeding it is
important to find the most comfortable position. Ask lactation specialist
(usually available on-site) to show you how to use side (football) hold or lying down position with your baby lying by your side facing you. These
positions take the pressure off of the incision area.
C-section delivery is a huge stress for the baby too. Leave your baby in the same room with you as much as possible. It needs to feel your skin and hear your voice.
If the doctors recommend taking the baby to the nursery while you recover and because of the sedating effect of some drugs, insist on staying with your baby. Baby’s father will have to stay with you to help take care of the baby.
If your milk production is delayed, your doctor will recommend giving the baby some formula. Avoid bottles. Ask the father of the baby or the nurse to feed the baby with a finger or a little spoon or other bottle alternative.
Some babies transition from bottle to breast without problems. Many will refuse the breast. The milk is easier to get from the bottle. Getting the milk from the breast is a hard work. Once they know it can be easy, they resist the hard way. This is called nipple confusion.
Even if you supplement with formula the first couple of days after the delivery, let your baby suck the breast at regular feeding times. This will promote sooner milk production.
If your milk came in, but you are unable to give your baby
the breast, start pumping as early as possible. If you are not taking medications that
forbid breastfeeding, give pumped milk to the baby. Otherwise, pump and discharge
it. A good pump will help you build up and maintain your milk supply.
Make sure your baby’s father is educated in how to help you position for breastfeeding at home. He will have to make sure the baby latches on correctly. You won’t be able to bend down to check on it for a while.
Also, let him watch how to put pillows behind your back to make you comfortable during your breastfeeding sessions.
Use this prolonged hospital stay as an opportunity to become better educated and experienced in breastfeeding after the surgery. Lactation specialists available at the hospital will not be so readily available after you leave. Use their help and expertise to nurse successfully through your recovery. Don’t be shy. Ask for help!
Cesarean section doesn’t make breastfeeding impossible. It makes it more difficult. And it makes you more of a hero for your devotion, determination and success in breastfeeding through recovery. Be proud of yourself!
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.