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Have you been advised a C-section delivery by your doctor? Are you worried about taking care of your baby after the surgery? Are you thinking about how can C-section affect breastfeeding?
If you are having all these thoughts, here are some of your worries simplified. These are easy suggestions to help you cope with surgery, and find ways to breastfeed your baby comfortably even after a C-section.
How can C-section affect breastfeeding?
There is a difference between breastfeeding after a normal delivery and breastfeeding after C-section. For any new mom who has been suggested a C-section, here are some things that you need to know about the effect of C-section on breastfeeding:
#1. There may be some delay in proper production of breastmilk
This is more likely in case of an emergency C-section. The hormones that your body produces after delivery triggers the production of milk. The moment the placenta detaches itself from the uterus, your breasts will begin to produce milk. The interaction with the newborn immediately after birth is also responsible for this.
For instance, after a normal delivery, you are usually advised to breastfeed the baby within an hour of birth. This is not possible after a C-section. So, production of breastmilk may be delayed.
#2. You will be under medication during and after a C-section
This includes the spinal anesthetic as well as epidurals. These medicines will also have an effect on the baby and will impact breastfeeding after C-section. Normally, after a C-section, babies tend to me sleepier and will not really attach themselves to the breast in the initial days. Although there is not enough evidence to suggest that this is the effect of the milk, if you find that your baby is not interested in breastfeeding initially, you must talk to your lactation consultant.
#3. Your first feed is delayed
If you are able to get skin to skin contact with your baby immediately after birth, you are able to breastfeed the baby early, too. However, when you have a C-section, this is quite delayed. As a result, your first feed is also delayed, making production of breastmilk slower.
#4. Pain will affect breastfeeding
Moms who have had a C-section will be in a lot of pain for the first few days. This affects how you hold the baby and also your comfort level while feeding. You can ask your lactation consultant to help you with breastfeeding positions after C-section. You can also receive pain medication that will help ease breastfeeding after C-section.
#5. Your hormones are affected
When you have a C-section, the levels of hormones like prolactin, oxytocin and cortisol which are responsible for breastmilk production are affected. Moms who have had a C-section have lower levels of these hormones, affecting your ability to breastfeed.
#6. The baby is not ready to start feeding
When you have a natural birth, the baby is prepared by the mother’s body to breastfeed and latch on almost immediately. The hormones that the body produces also prepares the baby and strengthens the feeding instinct and other behavior. In case of a C-section, this preparation is affected and may have an impact on the baby’s behavior after birth as well.
How to improve breastfeeding after success?
While it may seem very stressful, the truth is that most moms will cope and feed their babies successfully even after a C-section. Here are some tips that you can try to improve breastfeeding post a C-section:
- Get as much skin to skin contact as possible: This keeps the baby calm and also helps your body produce the necessary hormones to increase breastmilk supply.
- Let your baby attach to your breast on her own: Babies have natural instincts when it comes to breastfeeding. Baby-led attachment where you allow the baby to latch on to the breast using his or her instincts sets a strong foundation for breastfeeding. It helps the baby understand how to attach himself in the best way and also remember it.
- Try different breastfeeding positions after C-section: Holding the baby on the side next to you when you are lying down is the easiest option. You can also hold the baby under your arm on the side, like you are holding a football and then supporting the baby with your arm allows the weight to be well distributed.
- Rooming in or having your baby in your room all the time will help you understand your baby’s needs and pick up necessary cues for feeding. It also helps build a better bond between you and the baby to improve breastfeeding.
- Consult a lactation expert to understand the best breastfeeding practices. Many people aren't aware of how can C-section affect breastfeeding, so, an expert can guide you in the correct direction.