An estimated 30 percent of women in the US deliver through Cesarean section (C-section), most of which are usually unexpected. Whichever way you deliver, you have a new, snuggly, and hungry human being who needs feeding and taking care of. That said, having an operative birth as compared to a vaginal one can affect the breastfeeding experience in a number of ways, according to Tarzana OBGYN, Dr Torbati.
Breastfeeding After C-Section: What You Need to Know
● In some instances, a mother who has been eagerly waiting for the natural birth process may feel somewhat disappointed and dissatisfied because her expectations were not met. This can be problematic if the mother considers the C-section a “failure” at giving birth, causing her to feel like she may “fail” at breastfeeding as well. You should keep in mind that every mother is capable of nursing after birth, regardless of the process. In fact, breastfeeding can help to neutralize the c-section experience.
● There may be delays as to how soon you can breastfeed your newborn following the procedure, because you need a little time to recover before you can be able to hold and nurse your baby. Also, mothers who had general anesthesia generally take longer to regain their strength compared to those who had epidural, and may also not be able to nurse for long periods of time at first. But as soon as you’re well conscious and able to hold your baby, you can start nursing him/her.
● The benefits of breastfeeding as soon as possible after delivery apply to both mothers who have delivered vaginally and through c-section. Nursing promotes affection, stimulates the release of milk, provides the baby with early nourishment through colostrums, initiates the release of hormone oxytocin that helps with the contraction of your uterus, and allows you to experience the suction urge of your newborn at its peak, in the first 2-3 hours after birth.
● When you breastfeed before the anesthetic completely wears off, you may actually have an advantage over a mother who gave birth naturally since the experience will be pain-free and more comfortable.
● Babies born through Cesarean tend to be slightly lethargic and drowsy for a short-time after birth, especially if the mother received anesthetics for a longer duration during labor. So, you may need to encourage and stimulate the baby to breastfeed for the colostrums to flow.
● Also, you will be prescribed some medication and antibiotics following delivery to ease pain. While some of the medicine may pass into the milk, the amount is usually very small compared to the volume of milk produced during the first few days of giving birth, so your baby is perfectly safe.
As a final note, you should discuss with your medical team about the best position to hold your baby during breastfeeding to reduce the pressure applied to the incision. Also, the antibiotics may make you susceptible to yeast infection that may also affect your baby, so ask your medical team for precautionary measures and how to spot early symptoms for prompt management.