Having had your baby via a caesarian section may mean that you experience a bit of discomfort when trying to breastfeed your newborn. Women who have had a c-section need longer to recover and experience a lot more pain after the birth. Don’t let this discourage you from successfully breastfeeding.
Successful breastfeeding is hugely dependent on support and stimulation. Support comes from your spouse and family (let them cook meals and do the washing, shopping and cleaning if necessary) and your own determination to breastfeed.
Stimulating milk production comes from the baby suckling, drinking, licking and mouthing the nipple. When breastfeeding hormones (oxytocin and prolactin) are released, women experience a pins and needles sensation in their breasts or feel period pain. Women who have had a c-section will also experience these but they may happen a few days later.
Provided there are no problems with the baby or the mother, women who have had a c-section are often allowed to hold their baby immediately after birth. In ideal circumstances her baby may be left at the breast while mom is still in theatre – but this is not always possible. If you’ve had a c-section you may not have been able to have your baby with you all the time.
While this does mean you lost out on a bit of time to begin to establish breastfeeding, it does not mean you can no longer do it. Put your baby to the breast as much as possible. If your baby is not latching or feeding, get help from a lactation consultant and express to keep your supply up.
The first ten days to two weeks should ideally be spent with your baby – lie in bed together to feed, sleep and recover. You may need to pile up some pillows around you to get comfortable. This is also the perfect time to get to know your baby. Feed your baby as often as two-hourly to establish breastfeeding. The more often you feed the more milk you will make.
When your breasts start producing sufficient quantities during feeding, you will be able to feed less often. Give yourself six weeks to establish breastfeeding. Once the milk is flowing, you can enjoy breastfeeding for as long as you are comfortable about doing it.