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10 Tips for Breastfeeding After a C-Section

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Recovering from birth is never easy, but C-section recoveries can be especially difficult. Nearly one third of pregnancies end in a C-section, so whether you're expecting one or not, or have already had your baby, try these tips to make sure you develop a beautiful nursing relationship from the start.

1. Be Prepared

Whether you have a C-section or a vaginal birth, taking a breastfeeding class when you're pregnant is the best way to prepare yourself for nursing your newborn. Hospitals typically offer childbirth and breastfeeding classes, so check with the hospital you'll be delivering at to see when they have classes scheduled. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will make things easier—especially if your C-section was unplanned.

2. Ask for Skin-to-Skin During Suturing

If you're awake during your C-section, ask the surgeon and nurses if you can have a few minutes of skin-to-skin contact with your newborn while they're closing your incision. Skin-to-skin helps baby to regulate his temperature, and also helps him to naturally start rooting for the breast. The nurses will need to take baby away to be cleaned up and have some quick testing done, but the early bonding can help stimulate your baby's nursing instincts.

3. Make Your Wishes Known

It's important that you let the hospital or birthing center know that you will be nursing. Request that they refrain from offering a bottle or pacifier during the time that you and baby are separated. To avoid nipple confusion, sleepiness, or lack of desire for the breast, your nipple should be the first thing your baby is offered.

4. Nurse In Recovery

As soon as your baby is brought back to you, offer your breast. Depending on how your epidural was given your arms may be numb. Ask your partner to help position the baby if need be—just get baby to your breast. The more often and longer you nurse your baby, the better you're doing to establish a solid nursing relationship with your little one.

5. Be Patient With Yourself

If you're a first-time mom, this is all new. It would be nice if adjusting to being a mom happened instantly, but it takes time. You're sore, you're not quite sure what you're doing, and nursing doesn’t always come as naturally as you'd like. It takes time for your milk to come in (baby's getting vital colostrum at first, though)—up to five days—and during that time you and baby are trying to figure everything out. Nurse your baby frequently to help your supply and to give baby as much colostrum as possible.

6. Use a Clutch Hold

You'll likely find that having anything touching your belly is very uncomfortable right now. A clutch hold is when you put your baby in a position similar to how you would carry a football when you're running. This position will comfortably keep baby off of your abdomen.

7. Nurse on Your Side

When sitting up gets too tiring, try nursing on your side. Lying flat on your back can put too much pressure on your incision, so you may find you're naturally more comfortable on your side right now anyway. Nursing from a side-lying position will help you get rest and is a lovely way to snuggle with your newborn.

8. Have Lots of Pillows Available

It's not unusual for your entire body to be sore after a C-section. Make sure you have plenty of pillows around so that you can prop some behind your lower back and put one or two in your lap as well. If you have a nursing pillow you might want to put a regular pillow underneath it while your baby is still small and your belly is tender.

9. Ask for Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If your arms are still numb in recovery, ask your spouse to help position and hold your newborn until you have more feeling. Ask to consult with the lactation consultant while you're in the hospital to get tips or help when you can. After you're discharged, contact your local La Leche League. Once you're home make sure your partner knows when you're nursing it's his job to make sure you always have a giant glass of water. Nursing is thirsty business. We know you've got this. Good job, momma!

 
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