Breastfeeding after C-section can prove stressful. However, you must start expressing as quickly as possible to maintain a successful breastfeeding routine. If there’s a significant delay to the first feed, some mothers may fall back on formula and bottle feeding. However, if you want your child to enjoy the best start in life, breastfeeding is the best way to go.
Is breastfeeding harder after C-section procedures? If there are complications during birth and mother and baby are separated, the lack of skin-to-skin contact can inhibit the release of hormones that promote breast milk production. Some mothers may also find it too painful to breastfeed immediately after a C-section. Breast pumps are a good way of bridging the gap if you’re separated from your baby for some time. If you’re worried about pain from surgical scars, many breastfeeding positions can be adopted to make everyday feeding more comfortable.
You’re not alone in feeling anxious about nursing after a C-section. However, there are many steps you can take to ease into the process more easily. Read on for everything you need to know about breastfeeding after a C-section.
Skin to Skin
There’s growing evidence to suggest postnatal skin-to-skin contact is good for babies and mothers alike. In Ireland, more than 86% of babies receive skin-to-skin contact and care after being born.
Skin-to-skin contact offers several benefits to newborns. For starters, it can help relax both mother and child after a stressful birth. Furthermore, it can regulate a baby’s breathing, heart rate, and temperature, making it easier for newborns to adjust to life outside of the womb. Contact with the mother’s skin also exposes a baby to beneficial bacteria. Exposure at this young age is vital for staving off infection, which is particularly useful in the case of long hospital stays.
Skin-to-skin contact is also advantageous for breastfeeding and C-section procedures. This level of contact stimulates the release of hormones that will make breastfeeding far easier. If a child has been born with complications and requires a stay in a neonatal unit, skin-to-skin contact is certainly advised. It reduces cortisol levels and improves oxygen saturation, putting less stress on the baby and promoting faster healing.
Even if you can’t breastfeed immediately after birth, skin-to-skin contact will make the transition an easier one. It can promote pre-feeding behaviour in newborns while ensuring mothers express sufficient volumes of milk to nourish their children when they’re eventually ready to feed.
Once your baby is ready to feed, you’ll need to start thinking about breastfeeding positions. When choosing positions for breastfeeding after C-section procedures, you should prioritise your comfort and that of your child.
Don’t worry if your first feeding doesn’t go exactly to plan. Your health visitor or midwife can provide you with help achieving a comfortable position before passing your child to you to commence feeding. Whether you’re nursing at home or in a hospital, make sure you have plenty of pillows and towels nearby to keep your surgical incision covered and your baby supported.
Need some inspiration? Read on for an overview of the most popular C-section breastfeeding positions and how they can benefit you and your child.
Laid-back breastfeeding after C-section
- Lie in a semi-reclined position on a bed or sofa. This position is not only comfortable, but it also prevents your baby from coming into contact with your caesarean incision.
- This position also means that your baby enjoys maximum support as they feed. If a newborn is having some feeding, this position will encourage them to latch on more securely.
- Laid-back breastfeeding comes with increased skin-to-skin contact, promoting the release of hormones like oxytocin that can increase breast flow and ensure your baby feeds more easily.
Side-lying breastfeeding after C-section
- Start by making yourself comfortable on a bed, lying on one side of your body.
- Use pillows to support your head and spine. It’s also worth placing a pillow or support wedge between your knees to prevent any strain on your stomach muscles.
- Lay your baby on their side and position them so that the two of you are facing each other. Make sure they’re close enough that they can latch on easily.
- If you want to be able to feed on both breasts, make sure you have a rail or something to hold on to within easy reach.
Clutch or football hold breastfeeding after C-section
- The clutch hold is one of the best breastfeeding positions after C-section procedures. It’s also ideal for mothers with larger breasts or for those who need to nurse two infants at the same time.
- The clutch or football hold allows babies to feed more easily, making this position a good choice for mothers with milk ejection reflex.
- To achieve the clutch hold, position a pillow next to you. Next, cradle your child in your arms so that they are facing upward.
- Support the neck with the palm of your hand, bringing your child close against your side. Their legs should be tucked comfortably underneath your arm. Once they’re secured in this position, you can bring them to your breast to feed.
Help Your Body Get Ready for Breastfeeding
It’s not uncommon for some mothers to suffer from low supplies of breast milk, particularly during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Preparing your body for breastfeeding will help you maintain sufficient volumes of milk through the first months of your child’s life, preventing the need to transition to formula feeding.
There are several things you can do to increase breastmilk supply. For starters, make sure your child is firmly latched on to prevent waste. Switching between breasts will also help you maintain better supplies. Make sure you’re offering your baby both breasts when feeding.
During feeding, you can compress breast tissue to encourage increased milk flow. This will also encourage better suckling behaviour. It’s also vital that your breasts are fully expressed after each feed. If your child has received sufficient nourishment, you can express excess milk with a pump.
It’s easy to forget about self-care during the first few months of your baby’s life. However, keeping yourself nourished and healthy is essential. Staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet won’t just keep you in fine form, it will also ensure you’re producing sufficient supplies of breastmilk.
Using a Breast Pump After C-Section
One of the best breastfeeding tips after a C-section is to make use of breast pumps. After undergoing a C-section procedure, natural nursing may be delayed. This can make it harder to initiate milk production when natural feeding is ready to commence.
At O’Flynn Medical, we offer a range of breast pumps to new mothers looking to bridge the gap between birth and breastfeeding. We also offer a reliable breast pump rental service which is ideal for mothers looking for short-term pumping solutions. Available breast pump models include:
Ameda Elite Double Breast Pump
The Ameda Elite Double Breast Pump makes it easy to express and store milk. Double pumping not only reduces overall pumping time but also increases prolactin and milk production. This Ameda device is ideal for new mothers looking for a reliable breast pump rental. This electric pump can be used for single or double pumping and boasts incredibly quiet operation.
In addition to breast pumps, O’Flynn Medical offers a wide range of accessories to make breastfeeding go more smoothly. Accessories include:
The AXifeed bottle and cap range provides a tamper-safe solution for storing expressed milk.
CustomFit Breast Flanges
Flanges can make pumping a more comfortable experience. Provided you’re using something that’s a good fit for your breast, such as the XXL/XL CustomFit Flanges, flanges can also help you express more milk.
Hygienikits™ are essential if you’re opting to rent breast pumps, these kits include everything you need to make pumping more comfortable and increase milk expression.
YOUHA Breast Milk Collector
While your baby feeds from one breast, it’s common for small volumes of milk to be discharged from the other one. The YOUHA Breast Milk Collector is designed to save your milk, meaning every drop of nourishment can be stored for later use.
Store’N Pour Breast Milk Storage Bags
The Store’N Pour Breast Milk Storage Bags can be combined with a wide variety of Ameda milk collection systems, meaning you never need to worry about waste when expressing.
Breastfeeding After C-Section: In Summary
Breastfeeding after C-section procedures needn’t be complicated. Breastfeeding helps you maintain skin-to-skin contact with your child. This is vital for helping them acclimatise to life outside of the womb. Direct contact can also promote faster rates of healing in children in neonatal care. Meanwhile, mothers benefit from an increase in hormones that aid milk production.
Breastfeeding positions after C-sections also need to be considered. Choosing the right feeding position not only ensures your child is receiving sufficient nourishment but also prevents discomfort and ensures your surgical wounds aren’t placed under strain.
Preparation is one of the most crucial breastfeeding tips after a C-section for new and expectant mothers. Subsequent pregnancies make this easier, but you’ll still want to maintain a high milk supply for your baby. Everyday health and nutrition will give you an advantage here. However, it’s also important to switch between breasts when feeding. If you’re finding it hard to produce, massaging the breast can help you express more easily.
Most women also find the use of a breast pump essential. If there’s a delay between birth and the first feed, natural milk production can be impaired. Using a device that replicates natural suckling will help new mothers get used to the sensations of breastfeeding, while also promoting milk-boosting hormones. Finally, pumps are incredibly useful at ensuring the breast is fully expressed after each feed.
We Are Here To Help!
Worried about breastfeeding after a C-section. At O’Flynn Medical, we offer an extensive range of breast pumps and postnatal medical equipment to make your life easier. Whether you’re looking to buy breast pumps and accessories to help you express or are looking for medical equipment rental for short-term solutions, contact us today to find out how we can help you.