Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Many women don’t go into labor expecting to deliver their baby via Cesarean birth, but according to WebMd, Cesarean births, or C-sections, are in fact on the rise. While this type of delivery can make breastfeeding more difficult, there are methods that new moms can employ to create a more manageable, less painful, breastfeeding experience.

After spiking a fever while in labor, my well-crafted, drug-free, birthing plan quickly converted into an epidural-fueled, emergency C-section. I knew nothing about this type of birth and incorrectly assumed that in order to breastfeed my daughter, I would have to do so without the benefit of pain killers, no matter how painful the after effects of my C-section might become. Thankfully, I was wrong. To ease the pain one might experience after this major surgery, a mother can request both anesthesia and pain medication from her doctor, even while breastfeeding. There are pain medications that are compatible with breastfeeding and that should not affect one’s breastmilk. However, only use the medication as needed; following your doctor’s dosage instructions will help to reduce the amount of sleepiness in both mother and infant.

Additionally, the mother should also try to nurse her infant immediately after birth.2 After the C-section, the mother will most likely still be under the effects of the spinal/epidural, making this an ideal time to nurse her newborn, as she will not feel any discomfort. It is also ideal that the mother put her baby to her breast within the first hour of his or her life.2 Studies show that when this time to breast is longer than an hour, babies have a more difficult time breastfeeding, and a mother’s engorgement is more severe.

Changing the baby’s nursing position will also ease the pain for the mother who recently had a C-section.2 The mother could try turning to one side and nursing in a side-lying position. Another position that may be comfortable is the football hold.2 This is where the mother sits somewhat upright in the bed and places the baby on a pillow, between her arm and her side, using her hands to cup the underside of her infant’s head.

Finding a nursing position that’s right for both you and baby may take some time and experimentation. That’s ok. What works best for one mother, may not work well for you. But don’t be afraid to practice different nursing positions. You may soon find one that helps ease the discomfort of a C-section, making it far more comfortable to breastfeed for mother and baby alike.


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