Since 2000 the number of Cesarean Sections in the United States has increased by roughly 50%. With C-sections becoming more common, it is important to realize that the procedure leads to many differences than natural births. This includes breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is another pregnancy trend on the rise. In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 81% of U.S babies born in 2013 were breastfed from birth. With both pregnancy trends on the rise, it is important to know that there are some added precautions for breastfeeding after a C-Section.
Here are the important things to know about breastfeeding after a C-section:
- Antibiotics and pain medication: After the caesarean section, the mother will need pain medication and antibiotics for some days after. Many pain drugs are safe and compatible with breastfeeding and don’t usually affect the baby. The mother can also ask to skip pain medication if she feels like she can do without.
Nurse as soon as possible: It’s possible to breastfeed immediately after birth in the recovery room, if a regional anesthetic (epidural) is used. Ideally, the baby should be first nursed within the first few hours after birth. This is to prevent the baby fro having difficulties breastfeeding and to avoid engorgement. The baby also gets to enjoy the benefits of the early milk- colostrum, The mother will likely still be under the effects of the epidural and won’t feel any discomfort yet.
If breastfeeding must be postponed: If the cesarean section is performed using a general anesthetic or the baby has any medical issue that requires him/her to be under medical observation/treatment or some other complication arises, the mother will not be able to breastfeed immediately. If possible, she should express the colostrum and have it fed to the baby until they can be together and nurse normally.
Nursing positions: To protect and avoid stressing the cesarean incision, a laid back position should be adopted. This is done by draping the bay across the mother, away from the wound. Once the mother can turn over, a side lying position would be more comfortable. A nurse or lactation consultant can help decide what position is best for the mother and baby.
Feed regularly: Having a c-section can be
draining butthe baby should be fed regularly, at least every 2-3 hours. This will prevent engorgement and promote mother-child bonding. It also results in greater milk production later on.
The milk may be delayed: Generally, in both cesarean and vaginal deliveries, once the placenta separates from the uterus, the hormones signal the breast milk to start coming in. But in stressful and complicated deliveries, the milk may take longer to come. The baby can survive quite well on colostrum in the early post-delivery days and regular nursing will prompt the mature breast milk to come in eventually.
- Help: Breastfeeding after a cesarean section requires help from either the mother's partner, nurse or family relatives. It's important that she gets assistance with picking up the baby and positioning him/her correctly for nursing.