Many women have wondered if breastfeeding after a cesarean section is possible and need advice on how to do it. Barring any complications, a baby delivered through C-section can be breastfed as early as one delivered vaginally.
Important things to know about breastfeeding after a C-section
- Antibiotics and pain medication: After your caesarean section, you will need pain medication and antibiotics for several days. Many pain medications are safe and compatible with breastfeeding and don’t usually affect your baby. It's important to check with your physician on the safety of any medication. You can also ask to skip pain medication if you feel like you can do without it.
- Nurse as soon as possible: It’s possible to breastfeed immediately after birth in the recovery room, if your OBGYN used a regional anesthetic (epidural). Ideally, your baby should be first nursed within the first few hours after birth. This timing prevents them from having difficulties breastfeeding and prevents engorgement. Your little one also gets to enjoy the benefits of the early milk- colostrum, which is rich in antibodies. You will likely still be under the effects of the epidural and won’t feel any discomfort yet.
- If breastfeeding must be postponed: If your cesarean section is performed under general anesthesia, or your little one has any medical issue that requires him/her to be under medical observation/treatment, you will have to postpone breastfeeding. If possible, you should still express your colostrum to feed to your baby until you can nurse together normally.
- Nursing positions: To protect your cesarean incision and avoid stressing it, it's best to adopt a laid back position, draping the bay across you and away from the wound. Once you can turn over, a side lying position is usually more comfortable. A nurse or lactation consultant can help you decide what position is best for you and your little one.
- Feed regularly: Having a C-section can be draining but your baby should be fed regularly, at least every 2-3 hours. This schedule prevents engorgement and promotes 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. But in stressful and complicated deliveries, your milk may take longer to come. Your 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 your partner, nurse, friend, or family members. It's important that you gets assistance with picking up your little one and positioning him/her correctly for nursing.