Breastfeeding After Cesarean Delivery

Breastfeeding After Cesarean Delivery

Everything you want to learn about breastfeeding after cesarean delivery. To learn more read the experiences of mothers which we mentioned.

“Help me roll her onto one side,” said the short nurse with a gruff voice.

A younger woman rushed to my side and jammed her hands between my back and the mattress. In seconds, my stiff and painful body was precariously perched on its left side. The older nurse reached into my hospital gown and tugged at my breast.

“Hold it like this,” she gestured. Then she reached for my newborn and placed him at my side.

Again, she took my breast into her hands, this time rubbing my baby’s cheek with the nipple. My son responded, and an amazing sensation surged through my veins.

“Look at him suck,” the young nurse laughed. “He’s a real chow hound.”

And with that, the two nurses left the room. Minutes later, my son slid off the breast. I tried to re-latch him, but he wouldn’t hold still. I tried to stay calm, but he started to cry. My instincts kept telling me to sit up, but the wound in my abdomen wouldn’t allow me to move.

I didn’t understand. I took breastfeeding classes. I read breastfeeding books. But no one ever told me what to expect from breastfeeding after cesarean delivery. From hospital policy to physical discomfort, I learned that surgical births can make breastfeeding a real struggle, but not if you are prepared.

Hospital Policy

“I kept telling the nurses to bring my baby to me,” says Lindsay Keller of northern Virginia. “But they said I had to go to my regular room first. They wouldn’t let me leave the operating room recovery area until I said, ‘Yes, I feel that,’ to their touches. I think I held my baby about two hours after he was born.”

Separation of mothers and babies following cesarean deliveries is not uncommon. “Many hospitals will take a cesarean section baby from the operating room to some kind of nursery,” says Alicia Olson, an Lactation Consultant in Florida. “We know that babies should be nursed as soon after delivery as possible, preferably within the first one to two hours. This window of opportunity may be missed, and baby may fall into its down time.”

“Down time” is a sleepy period that most newborns enter into sometime after birth. A mother who cannot breastfeed during the newborn’s alert period may later struggle to breastfeed a disinterested baby, one who would rather be sleeping.

Olson also points out that during the separation, some hospitals give babies bottles of sugar water. This supplementation can interfere with a mother’s milk supply and can contribute to improper sucking techniques.

To learn about increasing your milk supply : Ways to Increase Breast Milk Supply


Drugs are a paradox where cesarean deliveries and breastfeeding are concerned. The anesthesia from the surgery can hamper breastfeeding, but other medications can actually help.

“With my first cesarean section, I was very groggy and really could barely hold the baby,” says Rose Goodwin, a midwife in Cambridge, Mass. “But at the same time, the epidural I had in for three days afterward meant I had great pain control, so I was comfortable to breastfeed.”

Anesthesia can also make a baby groggy. This can cause latch-on difficulties, which may lead to little or no milk transfer and sore nipples.

Tammy Mcgee of Buffalo Grove, Ill. noticed the sleepiness in her newborn daughter. “Barbara was very lethargic,” Mcgee says. “And she didn’t open up real wide to suckle.”

You can also check LA LECHE LEAGUE‘s  website to learn about breastfeeding.

Proper Positioning

Finding a comfortable position is important to any breastfeeding couple, but it is critical to breastfeeding after a cesarean delivery.

“Most nurses will position the baby in a football-style hold for nursing,” says Olson. “It is felt this avoids incision pain. Side lying will allow the mom to rest, not supporting the baby — especially if in pain — and allows unrestricted nursing when the baby shows interest. Pillows behind her back supporting her abdomen and between her knees can greatly increase comfort.”

Take a look at our another article about breastfeeding positions : Holding On Basic Breastfeeding Positions

Perhaps the worst part about positioning is that it can be difficult for the cesarean section mother to achieve it on her own. Getting out of bed to retrieve the baby can be very painful and awkward. Each movement can feel stiff and shaky. Don’t hesitate to ask someone to bring the baby to you, help you get comfortable and get the baby latched on correctly.

Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.

The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons.