So you have had a C-section and now you need to breastfeed. First, give yourself some grace and remember that you just had a major surgical operation and that you need to heal. Breastfeeding is a journey that takes practice for both you and baby.
Here are some tips you can try:
- Latch baby as soon as safely possible after surgery and latch often to help your milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand operation; the more demand, the more the supply. When initiating breastfeeding this concept is especially important. Milk supply is very delicate and it’s important to continue putting baby to the breast every 1-3 hours while building your supply. It is helpful to know that any changes that you make today will affect your milk supply 2-3 days from now.
- Skin to skin is so important those first few hours and longer. Placing baby above your breasts or across your chest so that their legs aren’t dangling near your incision can be helpful. Ask your support person to help position baby so you both are comfortable. Sometimes there might not be a comfortable option and remember that your support person can do skin to skin as well.
- Make sure that you are in a comfortable position. Use a pillow to support your arm that is holding the baby can make things easier and so your arm does not get tired. Usually, a breastfeeding pillow you want to have next to you because anything touching your stomach will be uncomfortable. But you can put it under your arm to the side of you to help hold your arm up so it’s not just hanging there.
- Sit upright with your back against something is usually the best supportive position for you. Find a comfortable chair/couch/bed where you can have back support as well as comfort
- One position is to try is the football hold. The position is where you tuck the baby in your arms like you would if you were carrying a football down the field. Pick a side (use both sides each feed when starting breastfeeding to stimulate both to encourage milk supply) and place that side’s arm around the baby with your palm support that neck. Be sure that your hand is not on their fully on their head as the baby’s reaction to this would be to pull their head backwards into your hand instead of towards your breast. Put your baby’s belly towards your belly so they are facing your nipple instead of the ceiling. And bring the baby to your breast.
- Remember the importance of taking pain medication after a C-section. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for over the counter and prescription relief. Pain can be difficult to correct once it reaches a certain threshold, different for every mama, so it is important to listen to your body and take the medication as directed. Again, you just had major surgery and your comfort and pain control is important.
- Drink plenty of hydrating fluids and eat meals/healthy snacks often. This will help with your milk supply and healing.
- Rest mama. Rest to let your body heal. Easier said than done because there are always at least 100 things to be done. But there will unfortunately always be something to do and resting after surgery is a priority. Take any and all help that is offered…also easier said than done. People, friends, and family who are offering, they truly want to help and most just don’t know how to help.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding after a C-section reach out to a Mama Coach near you, we are experienced and ready to help make your breastfeeding journey a positive one.