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, which influences breastfeeding after c-section. The presence of the partner at birth by cesarean section is often not allowed, nor is it possible to maintain 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. The parents may end up depending on the goodwill of some professionals who are more sensitive to the reality experienced by families in these cases. Here is what to consider when breastfeeding after a c-section.
What can I do to facilitate breastfeeding?
If the cesarean section has been an emergency or was unexpected, we cannot make plans. But in the case of a scheduled cesarean 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 center 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 centers; the best thing is to have a couple of things ready.
Often, babies born by cesarean 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 cesarean section has been caused by a loss of well-being 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 cesarean section does not delay the mature milk coming in, but what can cause a delay in this process are hospital routines that make a good start difficult.
Which positions 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. However, some positions allow breastfeeding these first days, avoiding strains 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, thin pillows, such as those used for outdoor chairs, are great. This way, we can protect the wound without modifying the baby’s posture.
Lateral posture: protecting the belly with the pillow is very useful if the mother can be put to the side, parallel with the baby, so that your little one can latch onto the breast.
Lateral inverse: yes, it is a little strange, but it works well when you 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 toward the mother’s head, so there is no risk of receiving any unexpected kick.
As in any breastfeeding journey, 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.