Can Cesarean Section Affect Breastfeeding?

It is quite common to hear women who go through a cesarean section complain about not breastfeeding adequately or having difficulty with establishing breastfeeding. Cesarean births are associated with a delay in initiating breastfeeding. Cesarean births affect breastfeeding by delaying the initiation and establishment of lactation but not continuance which means you might experience a delay with your milk coming in but not with maintaining the milk supply. There needs to be a commitment to breastfeeding despite the manner of birth. Many mothers who go through a cesarean section usually feel like they failed as women

so they get anxious about breastfeeding and still feel like they would fail with breastfeeding. Women who had an emergency cesarean section or are under stress have fewer oxytocin pulses during breastfeeding. Breast massage raises maternal plasma oxytocin levels. it is normal to worry about the drugs, the drugs are given routinely after the cesarean section. The drugs are secreted in small quantities and are safe.

Donโ€™t be scared to use the pain medications given, they do not harm the baby. The antibiotics can, however, cause an overgrowth of yeast which can cause thrush in the mouth or diaper area of the baby and also a vaginal yeast infection.

The greatest challenge of women who go through a cesarean section is usually establishing breastfeeding and maintaining milk supply. You should know you would experience a delay with establishing your milk supply does not mean your milk wonโ€™t come. You need the determination to want to breastfeed and support. Here are some things you should know:

  • Finding a comfortable position can be quite difficult as mothers try to find a position that removes pressure on their incision. Best positions for breastfeeding for a woman who has undergone a c-section include the football/clutch position and the side-lying position, you can try the cradle hold but consider the football hold if cradle cannot be tolerated. By 2nd or 3rd day postpartum, the side-lying position is generally comfortable and should be supported with pillows at her back and abdomen.

These two positions help to relieve pressure off the incision site, to help understand breastfeeding positions better check the post on breastfeeding positions.

  • Establish a nursing station. A nursing station gives you space, privacy and allows for less distraction during breastfeeding. There is an article on setting up a breastfeeding station to guide you.
  • Immediately after the baby is born, this is a great time to start breastfeeding. It is easier because you feel less pain due to anesthesia.
  • Nurse your baby early and often: ensure to breastfeed in the first 1 hour of birth, if you are unable to due to special care is given to the baby pump to prevent difficulty with breastfeeding and engorgement. Watch for hunger cues. In the early weeks, it is recommended to breastfeed at least every 2 hours during the day and at night no longer than 4 hours. No need to supplement with formula or sugar water.
  • Avoid supplements; let the hospital staff know that you donโ€™t want any bottles or pacifiers. If it is required medically to feed the baby request for a cup or a feeding syringe to avoid nipple confusion.
  • Be determined and get support: ensure you have someone close by that supports your decision to breastfeed, constantly put the baby to breast. Colostrums is sufficient for the baby until the milk comes in, it is expected to come in from day to 2-6.

It might seem easy but always remember put baby to breast often, maintain a good positioning and achieve a good latch, all the key ingredients to establish and maintain breastfeeding.

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