Pumping After Cesarean Delivery

the benefits

It is a common misconception that mothers who give birth via c-section cannot breastfeed their children. The truth is that many mothers are able to develop successful breastfeeding relationships with their children after having a cesarean delivery.

Although it may require extra planning and determination on your part, breastfeeding your child after your c-section without formula supplementation is possible and the benefits for both of you are well worth it.

Benefits of Breastfeeding After a Cesarean

  • Baby’s suckling helps to shrink your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size and minimizes uterine bleeding
  • Your body burns extra calories to produce milk and this can help your lose pregnancy weight
  • The emotional bonding of breastfeeding can help you heal the emotional pain that you may feel after being separated from your baby shortly after delivery

The hospital that you delivery in will have an impact on the initiation of your breastfeeding relationship. To ensure that you’ll be able to begin breastfeeding immediately after your baby’s birth there are a few things that you will need to know about the hospital including which type of anesthesia will be used during your surgery, the hospital’s breastfeeding policy as well as the hospital’s separation and rooming-in policy.

Anesthesia – When a cesarean is performed, two types of anesthesia can be used a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic (an epidural). Local anesthesia is preferred by mothers who will breastfeed since they are able to remain alert during delivery and begin breastfeeding immediately. General anesthesia is commonly referred to as surgical anesthesia, and it tends to interfere with breastfeeding since it tends to make both mother and baby feel groggy after delivery.

Most hospitals now use epidurals when performing routine c-sections, but you should be sure to check with your doctor and the hospital prior to your delivery date.

Breastfeeding Policy – Before you are admitted into the hospital, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the hospital’s breastfeeding policy. Is the hospital supportive of breastfeeding? Are all babies routinely given pacifiers or other artificial nipples? Do you need to make special arrangements to ensure the hospital staff understands that your baby is being breastfed and should not be given a pacifier or bottle?

Separation and Rooming-in – After cesarean deliveries, babies are often separated from their mothers during an observation period. However, if you carried your baby to term and your delivery was free of complications, then you should consider rooming-in with your baby immediately following delivery. Rooming-in will give you the chance to establish breastfeeding since you will be able to adjust to your baby’s hunger cues right away rather than wait for the

If there is a chance that you will be separated from your baby for an extended period in the hospital, you should be prepared to use a breast pump to express your milk during that time. Doing so will ensure that you are able to establish and maintain your supply. It will also give you the opportunity to provide your child with breastmilk during the separation rather than formula.

Preparing for the Return Home

Preparing for your arrival home is also a key factor in continuing to breastfeed successfully. Until you begin to heal and are able to move around more easily, you’ll need someone around to help you pick up your baby or bring the baby to you for feedings. Dads as well as other relatives or friends can be especially helpful by assisting you with these small tasks during the first few days home.

Your comfort is also important in these early days. If you are in constant pain, it will be harder for you to concentrate on breastfeeding. You should speak with your doctor to find out which pain relievers will be safe for you to take while breastfeeding.

Another way to ensure your comfort is to nurse in positions that keep your baby’s weight off your incision area until it has healed properly. The clutch-hold and side-lying positions are generally the most accommodating for moms after cesarean deliveries. A breastfeeding pillow or maternity belt can also provide helpful protection in the early days following delivery.

While nursing or pumping often will be necessary to prevent engorgement and establish your milk supply, you should be sure to also get plenty of rest. During the first few days home your focus should be on nursing and resting. This is the perfect time to let others help with household chores. Limiting visitors during this time is also a good idea because it will limit your stress and give you more time to relax with your new baby.

If you need more information about successfully establishing a breastfeeding relationship after a cesarean delivery, the La Leche League InternationalBreastfeed.com and AskDrSears.com website are great resources that can provide you with guidance and answers you need.

Return to: Breast Pumping Basics

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