Breastfeeding and C-Sections

Feb 03, 2023

What to Know About Breastfeeding BEFORE a C-section

The moments immediately after giving birth via a cesarean section can be filled with unending thoughts or mixed emotions; “I can’t wait to see my baby!”, “They’re finally here!”, “When do I get to see them?”, “Wow this has been really hard”, “This isn’t how I envisioned my delivery going.”, “…Will I still be able to breastfeed?”

And suddenly, you have a baby! Doctors and nurses are coming in and out to monitor you and your baby. Everyone is working diligently to perform their individual tasks. It can feel like you don’t even know what you don’t know. Like you aren’t sure what questions or problems to ask about. Does the baby just know what they’re supposed to do? Are they getting enough milk? Why isn’t my milk coming in?

This is why it can be beneficial to get these questions answered before giving birth. Whether your c-section is planned, or not, it is important to know how this medical procedure can impact your breastfeeding experience.

One of the most valuable experiences for mother and baby…

following birth is skin to skin within the first hour. Initiation of skin to skin after birth releases hormones in mother and baby that are beneficial to milk production. During skin-to-skin babies familiarize themselves with their mother’s smell, which becomes their biggest comfort. If a mother is unable to initiate skin to skin due to a medical complication, the baby’s father or a support person can initiate skin to skin to provide the newborn with the same hormonal benefits.

If you plan to breastfeed, speak to your care provider at the hospital about your skin-to-skin goals prior to birth. Many hospitals are able to perform all, or most newborn care and vital checks while the baby is skin to skin, even following a c section.

Cesarean births are also commonly associated with a delayed onset of milk production. The best way to combat this delay is frequent or continuous skin to skin, and frequent latching. This will send your brain the signals it needs for milk production. Keeping your newborn in the recovery room near you at all times will improve your ability to learn and respond to their hunger cues.

If you would like more information or are a new mother with questions/concerns about her breastfeeding journey, schedule a consultation with Autumn Oak’s certified lactation counselors.

By: Kameron Whigham, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC