7 Breastfeeding Expectations After A C-Section
As eager as we are to breastfeed our newborn baby immediately, doing so can almost feel impossible when you just came out of a c-section procedure.
Though it will feel like a difficult task, breastfeeding after a c-section is certainly achievable. I have had quite a number of struggles after my surgery, so to give you an idea about such a situation, here is some information about it so that you can prepare beforehand.
You Can Feed Your Baby Right Away
Latching is a common issue among new moms, and it can even be more difficult if you just came from a surgery. Latching your newborn will depend on how he or she is doing and whether the hospital where you are allows immediate breastfeeding.
Most progressive hospitals allow skin to skin contact to help increase the bond between mother and child. It is also known to help increase the volume of your colostrum. Some hospitals even allow moms to breastfeed their baby right after the operation while still inside the operating room.
So if you are expecting your baby soon, and you are scheduled for a c-section or you are worried you might undergo this procedure, talk to your doctor and express your desire to immediately breastfeed or perform a skin-to-skin contact, if the circumstance permits you to do so.
You’ll Need Help With The First Feeding
Keep in mind that you just went through a major surgery – which means moving is painful and painstaking. Make sure you enlist a nurse, a lactation expert, a doula or your partner to help move your body in a correct breastfeeding position.
Doctors will reverse the anesthesia in your body after the surgery, you will become entirely immobile for the next four hours and groggy for the next twelve – which means the first feeding may have to wait.
If by chance you cannot position your body right for feeding, ask for a breast pump from a nurse or from a lactation professional in the hospital to help you express your colostrum and get started in producing your breast milk.
Your Milk Supply Will Come A Bit Later Than Expected
Moms who just had a c-section find that their milk supply came later than expected. I personally started expressing the right amounts of milk after 2 weeks. My doctor told me this was brought about by the extra physical and mental stress from the surgery.
Though the lack of milk will alarm you, there are ways to encourage your body to start producing more. It is recommended that you have a skin-to-skin contact with your baby as often as possible. Feeding every two hours will also help stimulate your body to produce milk. If this is not possible, stimulating your milk production with a good breast pump can help.
You Can Take Pain Medications Prescribed By Your Doctor
The pain from a c-section is no joke. I initially thought that taking pain meds would harm my baby, but I later found out that putting my body in such intense pain could stress me out even further, causing me to produce less milk.
The pain medications given by the doctor are safe as long as you only use them for the short-term. When taken in the recommended dosage, most of these pain medications are completely secure.
You and Your Baby Will Lose Weight
Do not be alarmed if you think your baby is starting to become thinner. Since you have been pumped with a lot of fluids during labor, your baby will have a little more water weight compared to vaginal birth babies. Eventually, your little one will expel the excess water through a lot of peeing and you will see signs of weight loss.
Before you worry and resort to supplement your baby with formula, make sure that the lost weight is within normal range. Try to avoid supplementing with baby formula unless it is deemed medically necessary by the pediatrician as this will hurt your chances of an early breastfeeding success.
As far as caloric burn, breastfeeding moms do consume an extra 300 to 500 calories a day from breastfeeding alone. Nursing a child requires more energy and doctors will typically recommend you to eat a few extra calories to help support milk production.
However, most c-section moms do not have the appetite to eat so much or even have the energy to do so. This causes moms to lose weight without any effort. In my experience, I did lose a lot of weight but I gained it all back as soon as I got my energy back.
If you want to keep the lost weight off and stay fit, you need to start sticking to healthier meals with lesser calories. Breastfeeding is the best way to kickstart your post pregnancy weight loss and if you feel extremely hungry after every feed, reward yourself a piece of fruit (not chocolates) for having done a great job.
Your Baby Might Get Yeast Infections
Antibiotic intake after your c-section increases your newborn’s chances of getting yeast infection or thrush on the diaper area or in the mouth. You can prevent this problem from happening by taking probiotics to improve your gut health, cleaning your breast pump parts thoroughly with warm soapy water, changing your nursing pads regularly, and air drying your nipples to prevent bacterial growth.
The infection can be passed back and forth between you and your little one so cleanliness is a must. Talk to your doctor about it and get an antifungal prescription beforehand to help clear it up in case the problem arises.
You Will Need A Nursing Pillow
Moms who went through a successful vaginal birth are completely mobile right after the delivery. For moms who just had a c-section, it is entirely a different scenario. I myself had been bedridden for almost two weeks. I had to rely on my partner and a nursing pillow to get my baby in a feeding position.
Nursing pillows allow your baby to gain more access to your breast in many different comfortable positions. The breastfeeding positions that worked well for me and have had the least pressure on my incision were the crossover hold, side-lying position and the football hold. Any other positions were only tried months after the pain was gone and my wound has already healed.
Breastfeeding, in my opinion, feels like an accomplishment after giving birth. You know that you are feeding your child with the right nutrition that will keep him or her healthy, and that feels completely rewarding.
I was lucky enough that my baby latched right away and that nipple confusion did not become an issue. I also had a lot of help from a two-breasted pump whenever I had to express more milk.
Getting a c-section may have less advantage over vaginal birth but that does not mean we become less efficient moms. We just need to be knowledgeable about our circumstance and be creative about how we can feed our baby.