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Breastfeeding after a C-section, how to do it?

Emergency C-section or scheduled C-section, one thing is for sure, this is probably not the birth you had imagined. If you are planning to breastfeed, this may complicate things a bit, and even try to discourage you in advance. In this article, we explain everything and above all we help you not to abandon your project. At the end of the article, Lucie, the founder, will give us her testimony .

1 - Why is it often more difficult to start breastfeeding after a C-section?

In the case of a vaginal delivery, if the baby does not require special care, the welcome feed takes place within minutes of the birth, so breastfeeding begins immediately. (Even if the milk has not yet come in). 

In the case of a Caesarean section, on the other hand, the mother must go to the recovery room, which can last from twenty minutes to several hours, during which time she is separated from her baby. As a result, the welcome feed is delayed and occurs later. In reality, even if you will not be able to experience the magical moment when baby crawls to your breast, this does not change much as long as you put baby to the breast as soon as he is brought to you and that you favor skin-to-skin contact as much as possible. Because whatever your delivery, at this stage, you produce colostrum, a real gold bar for your baby. In fact, colostrum is produced as early as the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and it has many benefits because it is rich in proteins and nutrients. 


However, a C-section has other consequences in the days following the birth.

2 - When does the milk come in after a cesarean section?

The rise of milk, which marks the transition from colostrum (thick, dark yellow liquid) to lactation, generally occurs around the 3rd or 4th day after delivery. It is possible thanks to the production of prolactin, the hormone that the body secretes after the fall of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. 


In the case of a cesarean section, the milk comes in later, around the 5th day. 

If this is your case, cuddling, skin-to-skin and feeding as often as possible will be your best allies. 

A common fear at this time is that baby is hungry or lacking milk and that the colostrum is not nourishing enough. This is a misconception: colostrum is very, very nourishing and is more than enough for your baby. It is therefore not the time to fall into the trap of supplementing milk (even if there is nothing irreversible, giving milk as a supplement when you want to breastfeed would only slow down the implementation of breastfeeding). 

3 - How to encourage the rise of milk in the event of Caesarean section?

The best way to encourage milk to come in and to start breastfeeding in case of a cesarean section is to put baby to the breast as soon and as often as possible. This will allow the mother to get used to and familiarize herself with the breastfeeding positions, the baby to learn the sucking reflex if he did not have it yet and to stimulate lactation. Skin to skin, as we have already said, is also an excellent way to help breastfeeding. 

In the case of an emergency C-section, or in the case of a premature baby, he or she may be too small or too weak to breastfeed, may need to go to the neonatal unit, or you may not be able to breastfeed. 

If your plan is to breastfeed your baby afterwards, don't give up: you will have to start expressing your milk with a breast pump that can be lent to you at the maternity hospital. Ideally, if you cannot put your baby to the breast at all, you should express your milk about 8 times per 24 hours to stimulate lactation. 

4 - What positions should I use to breastfeed after a C-section?

One of the difficulties that the mother who has had a cesarean section will face is her lack of mobility and the pain caused by the scar: the body takes longer to recover when you have had a cesarean section and this must be taken into account when breastfeeding. You can take painkillers, both at the maternity ward and at home, as some medications are compatible with breastfeeding. 


Generally, you will not be able to get up or do much for at least ten days. 

The best position for the mother is then to remain lying down or semi-lying. When breastfeeding, it is recommended to position the baby so that he/she is not in contact with the scar to limit the mother's pain. 

When the baby is perpendicular to the mother's body, he will not touch the scar. 

You can breastfeed in a semi-recumbent position, sitting in bed or in a rugby ball. Another comfortable and recommended position is the Biological Nurtering, where the mother is leaning back and the baby finds his own position. 

breastfeeding position after cesarean section

5 - What breastfeeding equipment should I choose in case of a C-section?

A good nursing pillow is an indispensable ally, as it will help you feel well supported. In the case of a Caesarean section, we recommend our models Cocoon or Liberty models. Firm and easy to install (unlike microbead cushions, which are soft and difficult to install) They won't press on your belly.

An electric breast pump will help you stimulate lactation if it takes longer to set in and if your baby is not born at term. To choose the right one, get advice from a breastfeeding professional or ask the maternity hospital to lend you one. 

We really like wireless and portable models, especially this one from perifitbecause its power is comparable to that of professional breastpumps, yet it's much more practical, discreet and affordable than the famous Elvie.

Finally, a piece of advice that applies to all mothers who want to breastfeed, C-section or not, is to have the contact of a lactation consultant who can come to you in case of difficulty. The ideal is to have met her before the birth. To find a contact you can look on the website vanillamilk or directly in the directory of IBCLC consultants

6 - Favorite: Wounded Women, the brand that stands up for women who have been caesared

After an emergency C-section that left a bitter taste in her mouth, Audrey decided to change the lines and help all women who undergo tummy tuck surgery. With Wounded Women, she developed a brand brand of innovative and comfortable lingerie to help women live better with their scars. Her high-waisted panties, in a soft technological material, are adapted to the postoperative period to help them in their daily life. If you have had a caesarean section, these panties protect you from rubbing but also during skin-to-skin or breastfeeding, it avoids that the baby's little feet are in direct contact with her. The founder of Wounded Women wants to go further, so to fight against the isolation felt by the caesarean mothers, she has created a dedicated podcast and regularly organizes events.

We love its inclusive approach... and surprise, Wounded Women offers you 10% on its website with the code MUMADE.

7 - Testimony: my breastfeeding after a C-section

Julia was born at 37 weeks by unscheduled cesarean section. She was wide awake and healthy. Although small, she did not need any care. I stayed in the maternity ward for 4 days after giving birth and I remember that my milk didn't come in until the morning I left to go home.

I put her to the breast as much as possible. I was able to have her against me in the recovery room about 30 minutes after the delivery and we spent a lot of time against each other. 

The pain of the c-section was not the most important thing for me. The hardest part was getting her to latch on properly because I couldn't find a position to make it work. I was quite tense and needed a really ergonomic cushion. 

That's how I came up with the idea of a cushion ergonomic and practical cushion.

The day after the birth, the midwives lent me a breast pump and I started to pump my milk. In addition to being a little impressive (the device itself is big and makes noise), the first few times, it was a little discouraging, because there was very little milk coming out. 

But overall, by the time I got home, I had had my milk come in and could breastfeed. 

The first 3-4 weeks were a challenge, not so much because of the c-section but to find a relaxed position to nurse. It was a time of learning!

After that, I was so proud and happy to breastfeed my baby... 

I am pregnant again and due to complications at the end of my pregnancy, I am preparing for a cesarean delivery this time probably scheduled. 

I want to breastfeed again, and I will come with a breast pump I bought that looks super convenient. Also, I'm going to make an appointment with a lactation consultant before and after the birth, which I didn't do with Julia. 

The fact that the birth does not go as the mother had imagined can have positive consequences and strengthen your determination to breastfeed. With the help of support and the right information, you will be able to implement it correctly and live a beautiful lactation adventure. In fact, many mothers who have had a complicated pregnancy or a difficult birth, by cesarean section or not, testify in this sense. Breastfeeding, because it has this natural dimension, has the power to restore your self-confidence and make you feel strong and powerful!

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Breastfeeding after a C-section, how to do it?

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