The hospital routines in many countries still do not allow in many cases to humanize cesarean sections and make them less traumatic for the new family. The presence of the couple at birth by caesarean section is normally not allowed, nor is it possible to maintain a first contact with the skin that promotes a suitable start to breastfeeding. Mothers are transferred to recovery where they can be a few hours without their babies. And the parents may end up depending on the good will of some professionals who are more sensitive to the reality experienced by families in these cases.
What can I do to facilitate breastfeeding?
If the caesarean section has been urgent or unexpected, we cannot make plans. But in the case of a scheduled caesarean section, and if we are clear that we want to breastfeed, we will first have to investigate the hospital protocols. If it is a restrictive centre or for whatever reason we know that we are going to be a few hours away from our babies, and it is not possible to change centre, nothing better than having a couple of things ready.
Often babies born by caesarean section are quite asleep due to both the anesthesia and the way they are born, remember that the birth process activates both the baby and the mother’s body to produce milk. And if they arrive sleepy or bewildered they sometimes have a hard time asking and are sleepy.
If the caesarean section has been caused by a loss of wellbeing of the baby, and this causes mother and baby to be separated, and the baby has to be admitted without the possibility of breastfeeding, we have to get to work and start, before about 8 o’clock, to stimulate the breast and manually extract colostrum every 2-3 hours. The colostrum can be stored so that it can be given to the baby when it is ready to start eating.
Remember that the caesarean section itself does not delay the milk let-down, which can cause a delay in the let-down are the hospital routines that make a good start difficult.
Which postures are the best?
When the two are finally together, the mother will have more or less pain in the intervention area and it is very possible that she is also tired. It is vital to find a comfortable breastfeeding position. Sometimes, mothers feel bad because they cannot do everything they would like due to the pain and reduced mobility that they have after the operation. But there are postures that allow breastfeeding these first days avoiding blows to the painful area of the abdomen.
Ventral posture: in the first place you can try to place the baby on top of the mother. In order to protect the abdomen from blows, a thin pillow, used for outdoor chairs, goes great. In this way, we can protect the wound without modifying the baby’s posture.
Lateral posture: also protecting the belly with the pillow are very useful if the mother can be put to the side, parallel with the baby so that he can grasp the chest.
Lateral inverse: yes, it is a little rare but it goes well when we do not have a pillow. Mother and baby are placed in parallel but in reverse: head/feet, feet/head. So the baby’s feet are directed towards the mother’s head, so there is no risk of receiving any unexpected blow.
As in any breastfeeding, it is important to receive professional and family support, which allows the mother to feel sheltered and cared for at all times. Caring for a newborn after a major operation, such as a cesarean section, is a very important physical effort and the mother must receive the maximum help and attention so that she can recover while attending to the baby’s demands.