Breastfeeding after Cesarean birth
Giving birth by Cesarean will not prevent you from breastfeeding. The pain medicine(s) you receive are safe for your baby. However, you may need a little help the first few days positioning and burping your baby.
Did you know?
Because breast milk production relies on demand, you will produce the milk your babies need.
Here are some suggestions to make breastfeeding easier:
- Breastfeed as soon as possible after giving birth.
- Use pillows to keep your baby off your incision and in a good breastfeeding position.
- Take pain medicine so that it is in effect when you begin nursing.
- Let others take care of things so that you can rest as much as you can.
- Eat well and drink plenty of fluids to help your body heal from the surgery.
- At home keep your baby in your room for easier access at night.
- Limit your activities and housekeeping so you have energy for your baby and breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding a premature baby
Breast milk is the best food for a premature baby. Your nurse can help you master pumping and storing your milk so that it can be fed to your baby.
As your baby grows you will be able to breastfeed her directly. Skin-to-skin contact can provide closeness until your baby is strong enough to nurse on her own.
Breastfeeding after returning to work or school
You can continue breastfeeding after you return to work or school. In fact, continuing to breastfeed may make you feel less sad about leaving your baby in someone else's care.
It can be helpful to talk to other mothers who are continuing to breastfeed. Discussing your feelings with your partner is important for both help and support. As part of your planning, consider talking to a lactation consultant.
Here are some tips to make it easier to breastfeed even if you are away from your baby for some of the time.
Talk to your employer
Some companies have programs to support breastfeeding mothers. Other organizations allow women to take the time they need to pump their breast milk. You may also have the option of extending your maternity leave, working part-time for a while, working from home some of the time, or job sharing.
Choose a supportive day care provider
Share information about how to store and thaw breast milk with your day care provider. Ask that your baby not be fed for the last hour or two before you return so your baby will be ready to nurse. If your baby is hungry during that time, the day care provider should give your baby one-half of an average feeding of breast milk.
Introduce a bottle before you return to work
When your milk supply is well established and your baby is nursing well, introduce a bottle. Your baby may be more receptive if someone else does the feeding. Then, offer a bottle occasionally to remind your baby of this option.
When you put breast milk in a bottle, consider the average feeding for a baby:
- 0 to 2 months is two to five ounces
- 2 to 4 months is four to six ounces
- 4 to 6 months is five to seven ounces.
Rent or purchase a high-quality, automatic breast pump
You will need something more than a hand-held pump to maintain your milk supply. Depending on your work situation and where you will be pumping, choose an electric or a battery-operated pump. Look for a pump that will cycle on its own rather than require you to release the pressure. A breast pump should never cause you pain.
Use a double-pumping kit
This will enable you to express milk from both breasts at the same time. Expressing from both breasts saves time and will help maintain your milk supply.
Give the pump a trial at home
Become familiar with the pump before using it at work. Knowing how it works will help you relax while you're using it.
Try not to start back to work on a Monday
If you can, return midweek so that you only have a few days until the weekend. This can make the transition easier.
Remember the law of supply and demand
The more your baby or a pump stimulates your breasts, the more milk you will produce. Don't skip a pumping session at work.
Work feedings into your schedule
Nurse just before you leave in the morning. If you can, meet your baby for lunch. Pump two or three times during your workday. Have each session last 10 to 15 minutes.
You may feel anxious or nervous the first few times you try pumping at work. This can inhibit your milk let-down reflex. Massage both breasts for about 30 seconds before
starting to pump. Be creative in finding ways to relax:
- Listen to music through headphones.
- Find a more private spot than the women's restroom.
- Look at a picture of your baby.
- Imagine nursing your baby.
Refrigerate the milk
If you don't have a refrigerator at work, use a cooler case.
Weaning is a natural stage in your baby's development. For many babies it starts when solid food is introduced at about six months.
The process of weaning can last a few weeks to more than one year. It depends on your preferences. You can let your baby lead the weaning, adjusting breastfeeding to the changing levels of interest and need. Or, you can lead the process.
You can wean to a cup or to a bottle containing formula or breast milk, depending on your baby's needs.
There are several approaches to weaning:
This is best for you and your baby. It allows you to slowly decrease milk production without experiencing engorgement or discomfort. It gives your baby time to adjust to drinking from a bottle or cup.
Start by skipping one daily feeding and substituting formula or milk if your baby is older than 1 year old. (Discuss what kind of formula or milk to use with your baby's health care provider.) Choose the feeding that is of least interest to your baby. Wait a few days until you are not producing as much milk at that feeding time. Then, choose a second feeding to eliminate.
To lessen engorgement, choose the feeding one or two hours after the one you've already stopped. Continue this process until your baby is only nursing once a day.
After a few days of once-a-day feedings, start skipping a day between feedings until you eventually stop nursing altogether. By that time you will be producing very little
milk. Your baby will likely give up the last feeding easily.
Partial weaning allows you to eliminate certain feedings but continue breastfeeding at other times. For example, you may decide to nurse in the morning and at night and give your baby formula at other times. One advantage of this method is that if you decide to return to full breastfeeding, you will be able to.
If you have been breastfeeding there may be a reason you need to stop suddenly. This may be a difficult time for both you and your baby.
You will probably become engorged. If you will be returning to breastfeeding, try to pump or express your milk at regular feeding times until you can resume feeding.