Special circumstances

Special circumstances

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.

Here are some suggestions to make breastfeeding easier:

  • Use pillows to keep your baby off your incision and in a good breastfeeding position.
  • Consider using a side-lying position to feed your baby if it is comfortable for you.
  • Take pain medicine so that it is working 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 liquids 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.
  • Breastfeed as soon as possible after giving birth. Ask for your baby in the recovery room.
  • Talk with your employer about options for breastfeeding at work before you go on maternity leave.

Breastfeeding twins, triplets and more

You may be wondering if breastfeeding more than one baby at a time is possible. The answer is: yes!

If your babies are born early, they will likely be sleepy and unable to breastfeed well. If your babies are born full term, feedings will be easier.

Your health care provider and lactation consultant will help you create a feeding plan that will work for you and your newborns in the hospital. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using an electric breast pump for 15 minutes every two to three hours if your babies can't breastfeed. Use a "hospital grade" double pump.

Pumping will help make sure your body makes an adequate milk supply even if your babies are too small or weak to breastfeed in the days and weeks after birth. Your body produces breastmilk based on demand and supply. You will produce the milk your babies need.

When your babies are able to breastfeed, the transition to normal feedings will be easier if there is plenty of milk. Cuddle skin-to-skin with your babies for the first hour, if you are able.

While you are at the hospital:

  • It is often easier to nurse one baby at a time.
  • Once your babies learn to latch on and can nurse for a full feeding, you can breastfeed both at the same time.
  • Your nurses and lactation consultants can help create a feeding plan for you once your return home.
When you get home: 
  • Feeding your newborns and taking good care of yourself should be your priority the first few days and weeks.
  • Ask family members and friends to help with meals and housework.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Breastfeeding a premature baby

Breastmilk is the best food for a premature baby. It can help prevent infection, promote growth, and shorten your hospital stay.

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 your baby directly. Skin-to-skin contact can provide closeness until your baby is strong enough to nurse on their own.


The Federal Drug Administration advises that you should never buy a used breast pump or share a breast pump due to concerns about spreading germs. Hospital-grade breast pumps, however, can be cleaned.

Returning to work or school

You can continue breastfeeding after you return to work or school. Continuing to breastfeed may help you and your baby reconnect at the end of the day.

You may wish to start pumping once breastfeeding is well-established, usually around three to four weeks. Pumping before you need to return to work or school will:

  • help you become comfortable with the breast pump
  • let your baby practice using a bottle
  • establish a supply for the first couple of days after you return to work.

It can be helpful to talk to others who are continuing to breastfeed. Talking about your feelings with your partner is important for both help and support.

  • Spend the first three or four weeks with your baby establishing your milk supply with your baby at your breast.
  • Start pumping when breastfeeding is well established at about four weeks.
  • Pump for each missed feeding.
  • Talk with your lactation resource to create a plan for you.
  • Nurse often to boost your milk supply and reconnect with your baby.

Talk to your employer

Some companies have programs to support breastfeeding. You have the right to pump breastmilk when you return to work. 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 right before you are scheduled to 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 breastmilk.

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 breastmilk in a bottle, consider the average feeding for a baby younger than 3 months is two to five ounces. But remember, every baby is different.

Rent or buy 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.

Your baby may wake more often to breastfeed at night while they adjust to you being gone during the day and a change in feeding.

Remember the law of demand and supply

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.

Be patient

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.
  • 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.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021