Breastfeeding Following Cesarean Delivery

The special closeness that breastfeeding provides will be particularly important if you deliver by cesarean section. Since you will not have experienced the physical sensations of birth, nursing will afford you the intimate contact and comfort that are essential to both mother and baby. Your breasts will fill up with milk just as if you had delivered vaginally. Because you will need extra rest, you will appreciate being able to just take your baby to bed with you and leisurely feed him, instead of having to get up to wash bottles or prepare formula.

You should plan to nurse as soon after delivery as possible, just as you would after a vaginal delivery. If you have epidural anesthesia, you can hold and nurse your baby right in the recovery room. If you have general anesthesia, however, you will have to wait until you are alert before getting started.

Finding Alternate Nursing Positions

Side-lying position is the favorite by many cesarean mothers.

Your abdominal incision will necessitate finding alternate nursing positions. Experiment until you find one that is easy and comfortable. Many cesarean mothers prefer the side-lying position. To assume this position, use pillows to support your back, your abdomen, and possibly your upper leg. Place your baby on his side, facing you, and cradle him in your arm. Pull him in close to you until your nipple touches his lip. Wait for him to open his mouth, then make sure that his jaws are well past the nipple. To burp him, roll onto your back and roll the baby onto your chest, face down. Then roll onto your other side to nurse him from the other breast.

Some women prefer to nurse in a sitting position. If you do, bend your knees somewhat and support your feet to lessen the strain on your abdomen. Place your baby on a pillow in your lap and cradle him in your arm. The clutch position or football hold is another position that relieves pressure on the abdomen. While sitting, hold your baby on a pillow at your side as if he were a football. Use your hand to support his head at your breast.

Continue taking your pain medication as needed. Most analgesics do not affect the baby. However, check with your doctor to be sure.

Do not become discouraged if you and your baby seem to get off to a slow start. Remember that this will be the beginning of many months of a happy, rewarding nursing relationship.