The World of Pregnancy

Breastfeeding after Caesarean Birth: Advice, Advantages & Positions!

Breastfeeding, a normal physiological experience and natural way of feeding babies in the first stage of their life, is a sensitive issue and may be a source of concern for future mothers, who may be worried that they won`t be able to handle it.

When breastfeeding takes place after a Caesarean birth, it may become a real challenge.

Differences between Breastfeeding after a Vaginal Birth vs. Caesarean

It seems that the chosen birth method doesn`t significantly influence breastfeeding on the long term, with the condition that the breastfeeding process start as soon as possible after childbirth. A meta-analysis of studies regarding the relation between Caesarean and breastfeeding, published in 2012 and targeting 550.000 cases, drew attention to the significant drop of breastfeeding rate soon after childbirth when Caesarean birth is concerned compared with vaginal birth, which involves a series of negative effects on the health and development of babies.

However, how breastfeeding is influenced after Caesarean and what may a future mother expect, no matter if the Caesarean birth was planned or required as a medical option? – More info!

When Caesarean birth is concerned, it`s possible for the breast milk to appear later than after vagina birth, and after the actual surgical intervention, the mother needs some time to recover physically before she can hold the baby in her arms and breastfeed him. The recovery depends on the type of anesthesia: if it`s general (which happens more rarely today), the mother will need more time before she can breastfeed than in the case of an epidural, which is a lot more frequent performed these days. Despite these shortcomings, however, Caesarean birth doesn`t affect the quantity of milk produced.

An important aspect is also if the Caesarean birth was planned or not. If the intervention is performed after the mother passed through a long labor, without ending with a vaginal birth, it`s possible for the doctor to recommend to the mother to rest more and delay breastfeeding her baby until she`ll be physically able. The mental state of the mother (eager to give birth naturally and disappointed for how things turned out, and also afraid that she may not be able to breastfeed her baby) may inhibit the milk production, unlike future mothers who already know in advance that they`ll delivery their baby through Caesarean birth and are prepared for this.

Anesthesia and pain killers after the intervention ends might make the baby become sleeping and thus, less cooperative. In this case, you`ll need to wake him up to breastfeed him and spend more time with him at your breast to ensure that he`s properly fed. However, it`s a temporary situation that passes along with anesthesia and the effect of drugs.

Note: No matter the type of birth chosen, it`s recommended for the mother to breastfeed her baby immediately as she`s able. Sucking stimulates the secretion of oxytocin, which through a positive feedback mechanism, stimulates milk production. Moreover, there`ll be created a bond between the mother and newborn, and the baby will be more rapidly immunized due to the effects of colostrum. Last but not least, the faster will the mother breastfeed her baby after being born, the more will her confidence increase in the success of breastfeeding.

The administration of antibiotics during and after the C-section may favor oral Candidiasis in newborns. That`s why there should be given more attention to the appearance of injuries, redness, itchy breasts, but also white spots in the little one`s mouth. – You should also read What to Know After Experiencing a C-Section?!

Advantages of Breastfeeding after Caesarean Birth

Breastfeeding is without a doubt the best method of feeding the baby, having a lot of benefits for both him and the mother. When a Caesarean birth is concerned, breastfeeding is considered to be even more important as it`s involved in recovering after childbirth and protecting the newborn. Here are a few of the breastfeeding`s effects after a C-section:

  • Helps in reducing the uterus after childbirth – It was noticed that a month after birth, the women`s uterus who gave birth through the Caesarean method is larger than those who gave birth naturally. Oxytocin, stimulated at breastfeeding, acts against the uterus and accelerates its reduction.
  • Prevents infections in newborns – Babies born through Caesarean birth present a higher risk of infections than those born through the “traditional” method, due to a longer period of time spent in the hospital and coming into contact with medical equipment (for example, for possible respiratory problems). Colostrum has a strong role of strengthening the immune system of the newborn, keeping him away from such possible infections. – Read this!
  • Sustains the bond between the mother and baby – Some women may feel a C-section as a traumatic experience, which somehow “breaks” the bond with the little one, and which might make them feel distant from their baby. To this sensation may also contribute physical pains, fatigue or the effect of drugs. Breastfeeding helps, however, in building a psychological and emotional bond between them.
  • Helps in losing weight – After a Caesarean birth, women have some restrictions regarding some physical activities that are able to perform, which might make more difficult to lose those pounds accumulated during pregnancy. However, it was noticed that women who gave birth through a C-section may lose weight faster if they breastfeed, but it isn`t really a rule.

Advice for Breastfeeding after Caesarean Birth

  • If the physical state after the intervention allows it, it`s recommended for the first breastfeeding attempt to take place before the effect of anesthesia blurs, as long as the pain has not appeared; however, this aspect should be considered according to the doctor`s recommendations and the maternity`s policy (for example, private clinics puts a lot of importance on the contact between the mother and child and for immediate breastfeeding); breastfeeding during this time frame will offer you more confidence in the success of the process and will prepare for the period when you`ll no longer feel the same comfort.
  • Don`t hesitate to ask for your partner`s help or the support of someone in your family – help you stand up, keep your baby until you find a more comfortable breastfeeding position, help the baby eliminate has when necessary (belching), etc.
  • If you haven`t been successful in breastfeeding your first baby, you shouldn`t think that the same will happen with your next one; just as tasks are different, so are the experiences when it comes to breastfeeding one baby or another.
  • Ask for the help from an adviser in what breastfeeding means before giving birth and any time you get into difficulties when breastfeeding after Caesarean birth.

Breastfeeding Positions after Caesarean Birth

Breastfeeding after a C-section is a lot more uncomfortable than after vaginal birth, that`s why the mother should always find positions that come in handy to sit comfortably and at the same time protect the area where the surgery took place. Using special breastfeeding pillows might help.

  • Breastfeeding lying down on one side – the mother is sitting on one side with her head and back supported by pillows, and the baby is sitting next to her, with his body closed to her`s and the head facing her breast; be sure that possible leg hits of your baby won`t hit the surgery area, protecting yourself with a rolled towel or a blanket; this position is recommended when offering the mother the possibility of resting and at the same time doesn`t put pressure against the abdomen. – Click here!
  • Breastfeeding from the “cradle” position – the baby sits on a pillow in the mother`s lap, who sits down and keeps his head with one arm as she would dangle him; the baby`s head is facing the mother`s breast; it`s recommended to use a chair or comfortable sofa to support your back.
  • Breastfeeding from the “soccer ball” position – it`s a similar option with the “cradle” position, only that the baby is supported by a pillow on the one side of the mother, which is sitting down and supports his head with one hand.

Alternating breastfeeding positions and finding the most comfortable one, preparing for breastfeeding from during pregnancy, the partner`s support or from a member of the family are only a few methods through which you can make breastfeeding after Caesarean birth a more enjoyable experience than you worried it would be, and also enjoy real benefits for both you and your baby.

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