Caesarean deliveries certainly challenge delayed bonding between mother and baby after birth but it is important to remember that women who give birth by C- section can breastfeed successfully. The abrupt hormonal shift that occurs at the separation of the placenta from the uterus is what signals milk to come in to the breast. Hence, a mother’s body gets the same post-partum signal immaterial of whether it is a caesarean or vaginal birth. Mothers who have stressful births either caesarean or vaginal, tend to have delayed secretion of milk. Challenges are worth overcoming to best know that the new born is provided the best possible nutrition right away in life.
Planned C-sections give time to plan for recovery. The crucial first hour after delivery can be discussed with the best Gynecologist in chennai ahead of time. Even though it may be delayed in certain cases, planning to arrange for skin to skin bond and first feed as early as possible play significant role in encouraging the mother to nurse well. The mother will likely need some extra help with household activities allowing her to heal and bond with her new baby. Taking support from family members, friends for help, delegating tasks and chores to others or even hiring temporary assistance are some ways that come as good relief for the mother to spend that extra time to bond with the new born and facilitate nursing.
A great time to start breastfeeding is immediately after the baby is born and within the first one hour. After C-section, the mother may still be under the effects of the spinal/epidural. The baby can be fed in the recovery room unless the mother or baby has medical problems. With general anaesthesia, it will take longer. If breastfeeding cant be done right away, ask to hold the baby skin to skin first and then have the baby to the breast as soon as you safely can. If something prevents the baby from being put to breast within the initial 4 hours, pumping the milk with a breast pump is suggested to prevent breast engorgement and stimulate milk production.
It is usually difficult to find a comfortable nursing position soon after C-section. One arm may be restrained with IV connection and it may get a little tricky holding the baby to the breast. The mother may need to experiment to get the most comfortable position and ask for help getting positioned from the partner, nurses or the hospital lactation consultant. Extra support from arranging pillows would make it more comfortable for the mother and baby. Side lying position, foot ball hold or cradle hold are some of the more comfortable positions to breast feed after the C-section.
Even though the mother may be exhausted and in pain, breast feeding is more likely to be successful if it is done early and often. Breastfeed the baby at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night initially. Aiming for at least 8 to 10 feeds per 24 hours would ensure sufficient nutrition for the baby and help stimulate timely secretion by the mother. More frequent nursing will facilitate greater milk production at one week of delivery and thereafter.
supplements with anything (formula, water, etc) is to be avoided unless it is medically indicated. The hospital staff and relatives should know that they should not give any supplemental bottles or pacifiers to the baby as these artificial nipples normally cause problems with breastfeeding. The doctor can provide written orders that the baby is to be only breastfed and have no artificial nipples of any kind. The disadvantages of supplementing are missing breast feeds will reduce breast stimulation and expressing milk which are both needed to increase milk supply babies who are supplemented tend to take their next feed much later than if they had nursed, thus reducing the frequency of nursing
If it is a unexpected C-section, the mother may be exhausted or the mother/baby may need medical attention that must be addressed before mother-baby contact or nursing can be attempted. It is important to remember that the safety of the mother and the new born is paramount in such cases. Breast pumps can express colostrum for the baby and at the same time can initiate, increase and maintain breast milk production necessary for the baby while the mother is recovering. Some tips that can help the mother improve breast milk supply after caesarean are:-
Positioning and latching the baby to the breast has to be effective and comfortable. The baby latching well to the mother’s breast is important to make sure that the baby is transferring milk and the breast is getting emptied. Otherwise, it can affect milk supply and the speed at which milk comes in.
Intense pain can unnecessarily interfere with breastfeeding efforts. Safe medications as prescribed by the doctor for pain after surgery can make it more comfortable to breastfeed. It may also help relax the body so that the mother can concentrate on healing and begin producing breast milk.
A little more time in the hospital compared to that of a vaginal delivery is needed to rest and begin healing. More so, longer hospital stay also allows more time with the hospital staff and the lactation team to interact and discuss about breast feeding. It is best to make use of this to feel more comfortable and confident while getting back home.
Diet can do a lot for boosting lactation. The most important thing is to make sure of eating regularly and getting enough calories through a variety of healthy foods. However, certain foods and spices such as oats, sesame seeds, garlic, meats and colored vegetables have been found to increase milk supply for mothers. Getting enough water can be key to boosting lactation. A practical idea to be hydrated is to always keep a bottle of water close at hand while breastfeeding. Lactation consultants generally advice feeding mothers to drink a glass of water before every feed.
Once breastfeeding is established, mothers who have had a c-section are just as likely to continue breastfeeding as mothers after vaginal delivery. Breastfeeding will get easier as healing takes place. Preparation and commitment can overcome challenges and help the mother successfully breastfeed after c-section.
ours with lots of love
Dr Manu Lakshmi ( Best Gynecologist in Chennai)