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5 Tips for Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Breastfeeding after a c-section can present many challenges. Particularly if you were not planning to deliver by c-section, plans may not have been in place as to how to implement nursing under these changed circumstances.

With a little help and the right support, you’ll be off to a great start for breastfeeding after a c-section!

5 tips for breastfeeding after a c-section

Breastfeeding After a C-Section: 5 Tips

1. Arrange for skin-to-skin as soon as possible.

This is an important subject to broach with your obstetrician or midwife during the course of your pregnancy, since even women who are planning for vaginal deliveries can wind up delivering via cesarean. Many hospitals are now performing “family-centered” cesareans. One of the basic tenets of the family-centered cesarean is immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding in the operating room, frequently while the mother is being stitched up again.

Assuming baby is in stable condition, the “golden hour” can still be full of nursing and bonding, despite a surgical delivery!

2. Find a position that works for you.

As you can imagine, the traditional cradle or cross-cradle nursing positions may not be the most comfortable for a mom with a fresh cesarean scar on her abdomen! Many mothers have found that propping their baby up on a few pillows and utilizing the football hold keeps baby in a good position to access the breast, while still keeping any excess weight off the still-tender abdomen.

Side-lying is another position for breastfeeding after a c-section that allows the mother to rest and recuperate while still giving her baby the best nutrition!

3. What about pain medications?

There are a whole host of pain medications that are safe for breastfeeding. Frequently, labor and delivery units will ONLY use these medications in order to encourage breastfeeding in postpartum mothers. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of these medications, but in general they should not prevent being able to nurse your baby.

Do be conscious that bedsharing with an infant while taking narcotic pain killers is unsafe, but breastfeeding should not be affected.

4. Be aware that hormones may be affected.

Although breastfeeding after a c-section should be no different in the long-run than a vaginally-birthed baby, the initial hormonal process may be delayed. Especially if the birth was a process that involved a long labor, many medications, and a surgical delivery, the milk may be slow to pick up in supply.

Be assured that colostrum is still the best food for your baby and supplementation is not frequently needed in these situations. Continue to nurse on demand (every 2-3 hours at a minimum) and respond to baby’s hunger cues, and things will fall into place!

5. Find a support network!

If possible, it is best to have a network of supportive people in place before the birth of your little one, so that if and when troubles arise, you have somewhere to turn! Your local La Leche League group is a great place for support. Do you have friends who have successfully nursed their babies? Spouses and partners can also be a great source of help, particularly emotional support. Seek out an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) if professional help is needed.


 What did you find helpful in breastfeeding after a c-section delivery?

Rachel Wideman lives with her husband Andrew. They have a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. She is a registered nurse and enjoys knitting and reading.

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