Breastfeeding After Emergency C-Section: Address It, Don’t Stress It!

Due to elevated blood pressure in the last month of my pregnancy, I had to undergo an emergent C-section in the 38th week.  I had gestational hypertension that was detected in the 9th month. But the C-section itself went pretty smoothly and I delivered a 3.6 kg healthy baby boy.

As the C-section was carried out under spinal anesthesia, I was on complete bed rest for 1 full day with no water on the evening of C-section and starting with liquids and very light diet the next day.  I was unable to breastfeed my son after the Caesarian.  He was kept on top feed for the first day or two.

Is there a right position to breastfeed after a C-section?

My problems began with not being able to sit upright. Sitting upright for the length of time required to feed was rough, as the C-section stitches used to hurt bad.  I tried other feeding positions, such as feeding while lying down. But eventually I found it comfortable to feed in an upright position with a regular pillow propped behind my back, around the second day after the surgery.

When latching-on doesn’t latch on:

l tried and tried to get my baby to latch.  Inexperienced first-time mother that I was, I found it just too difficult.  I had heard a lot that babies latch and start feeding instantly, and here both me and my son were frustrated.  The nurse tried helping me with the latching.  Ultimately, my son started to suckle but was still crying.  I realized that I wasn’t producing enough milk and hence he was hungry and crying.  Of course, we couldn’t keep him hungry and hence the top feed was continued.  I felt this was may be because unlike normal delivery, the body wasn’t “prepared” for the baby and hence I wasn’t producing enough milk.  The major Caesarian section surgery and emotional turmoil might have contributed to this. My doctor understood and reiterated these points, which made me feel somewhat better.

Can latching-on happen with practice?

It’s so frustrating for a new mother to not being able to feed her child and see him crying, trying to latch, again getting frustrated, and wailing!  The gynecologist understood this concern and prescribed me an herbal Ayurvedic medicine to enhance milk production.  Along with that having regained my appetite by the third day, I started to eat a normal nutritious diet and kept myself well hydrated.  Apart from this, I continued to practice latching-on.

By the fourth day, both of us were much better off than before.  Along with my feed, one top feed was given to fill the little one’s tummy.

By the time I was discharged on the seventh day, I was much better both physically and emotionally.  Being a first-time mommy, I was still facing the teething troubles of motherhood and breastfeeding.  As per the gynecologist’s instructions, I continued with the herbal medicine till the time I was confident enough that I was producing sufficient milk to feed my son.

Within 10 days, my son was happily taking my feed multiple times a day and I knew we both had won the initial battle and challenge of breastfeeding after a Caesarian delivery.

My advice for mothers-to-be:

Expectant mothers, don’t fret too much about C-section or normal delivery now, but if a C section is unavoidable or maybe you opt for it, be patient in the initial few days when it comes to breastfeeding.  Don’t stress too much or worry too much about it.  Seek the gynecologist or lactation expert’s help.  Have patience!  Motherhood is precious but yes there are a few teething troubles always.

—-Ritwika Mutsuddi, an experienced mother trying to make it easy for new mothers. Read about Ritwika’s high (blood) pressure delivery and emergency C-section here.

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