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Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Breastfeeding After a C-Section

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

You are awesome. Your advice smackdown and blog are awesome. They have kept me amused and answered many a parenting question throughout my first year of motherhood. I am a big believer in the Read Everything And Anything You Can Get Your Hands On And You Will Be Fine technique for getting through life, so during pregnancy I stocked up on oh, maybe just 12 or so pregnancy books plus subscribed to every single pregnancy week by week internet thingy I could find (except for yours, as I did not find it, in fact I’ve purposely not read it since so I can read it as a treat to myself during my next pregnancy because I am weird). All of them said the same thing. I still read them all, religiously, in the correct week/month. And yet since actually becoming a mother, your columns have been so super helpful I have indulged in but 2 parenting books. Such is your wisdom (and word count). My partner and bank account are super grateful.

Anyway, I now find myself planning a second pregnancy that will likely end in a c-section. (Totally my own choice as I decided I would absolutely not be falling pregnant again unless I absolutely KNEW I would be allowed a c-section; vaginal birth sucks, well at least mine did. And now I have that, we are going to start trying next month.) So, I have two kind of question/requests: I know you breastfed all your boys, and I wondered if your c-section impacted the start of that at all? I am not even pregnant yet and the Midwives I’ve met with to discuss my future options are already telling me my baby is unlikely to breastfeed in a bid to get me to change my mind. I very much want to breastfeed and though I know plenty of babies born via c-section breastfeed successfully, it would be lovely to hear some anecdotes of what the supposed challenges are so I’m prepared for them.

And lastly, as an over-planner and avid shopper in advancer, I was wondering if you could give me a C-Section Recovery Kit List. I am super psyched to start stocking my bedside table for all my post-c-section needs/start instructing my poor, poor partner in his upcoming duties.

My extreme nesting issues seem to be kicking in rather early this time.

Thank you!
Miss OverThinker

I am sending some Beyonce-sized shade at your midwives right now. What a horrible myth to perpetuate, the idea that c-section babies are unlikely to breastfeed. Gurl, plz.

Look, anecdotes are just anecdotes and my babies/boobs/births are not yours or anybody else’s, and just because X happened to Y because of Z doesn’t mean that it will happen to you. I’m sure some c-section babies have issues breastfeeding. But come on: plenty of v-birth babies do too.

I had three babies, all c-sections. I breastfed all three of them. My difficulties with my first baby were NOT because he was born via cesarean, but because of a bunch of other extenuating circumstances. (He was huge, had a weak suck/oral motor issues, I had breast scarring from a botch cyst aspiration, then severe nipple trauma from bad latches, THEN thrush. All of this culminated in constant low supply issues. Also I just generally didn’t know what I was doing or how to react when things weren’t going smoothly.) My second and third babies nursed like champs right from the get-go — I NEVER saw any evidence that they were sluggish or drugged or anything like that. They were snuggly and new and HUNGRY. My boobs were primed with colostrum well before my c-section date, and getting my babies on the boob triggered my milk supply and post-birth uterine contractions, so not going through labor did not impact the breastfeeding process one bit.

Here’s what you do need to know about c-sections, however:

1) You will get IV antibiotics during and after your c-section. The antibiotics mean a higher likelihood of you or your baby getting thrush. So you will want to take probiotics to counter this. You can ask your midwife or lactation consultant about the timing and the dosage — I started a basic OTC dose a couple days before my surgery and continued for about six weeks. (I didn’t do this with baby number one and got a mild case of thrush. Baby two and three were thrush free.)

2) My milk always seemed to take a little longer to fully come in than for “other people.” I have no idea if this was a c-section thing or an Amy’s Boobs things — I did go through labor and pushing before my first emergency c-section and had the same problem, but I’ll never know “for sure” if my milk took longer because I didn’t give birth vaginally. I’ve written other columns with tons of tips to improving low milk supply and encouraging your milk to come in — herbal supplements, Mother’s Milk tea in the hospital, pumping after nursing as soon as you’re home —so you might find those helpful. (Just be careful you don’t go overboard and get oversupply, in case your milk supply is not impacted by the different manner of birth. Talk to a lactation consultant.)

3) Get a compression band for your stomach. I recommend a Belly Bandit. Yes, these get marketed as slim-down/weight-loss/vanity garments but they are LIFE-CHANGING after a c-section. Good incision support and incredibly helpful for moving around and getting in and out of bed without pain. I only used one with my third baby and frankly, don’t know how I made it through the recovery periods without one.

4) Once your incision is well and truly healing, put a silicone scar sheet on it. ScarAway or something similar. Totally helps minimize the scar’s appearance. Also talk to your doctor ahead of time about whether they use staples or stitches to close the incision. I had stitches and am biased towards them (my three-time scar is tinnnnnny), but your doctor might achieve similar results with staples.

And that’s really all I’ve got. Other than to suggest you still manage your expectations. C-sections are not necessarily a walk in the Birthing Park, even when scheduled — a lot depends on your anesthesiologist, doctor, nurses and pain management. You won’t be allowed to shower for awhile, which sucks, and you’re looking at a full six weeks until you’re fully recovered and cleared for physical activities. This can be tough when you already have small children to care for. BUT. You can absolutely 100% definitely breastfeed just fine after one.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • SarahB

    +1 Positive data point here.

    DS latched right on in recovery, and he breast-fed like a champ.

    I did have supply issues–partly because my baby was huge!–and needed to supplement a bit for the first few weeks and then when I went back to work. But DS totally knew what to do.

    All hail the “read everything” approach to childbirth. Thanks to Amy, I knew that supplementing in the hospital was a possibility and that I could still go on to primarily breast-feed my kid. She was the only source that ever mentioned that option, for which I am eternally grateful.

  • Marguerite

    THIS post is the first, after years of reading and loving Amalah, that I have commented on because, oh, how dare they! What kind of midwives are that unsupportive and fear-mongering?! I had a scheduled c/s (thanks, breech baby) and nursing was a go from hour one in recovery! The spinal was so quick and low that it didn’t seem to affect her at all! My milk came in on day three and we were so grateful to have no issues beyond my recovery from surgery. Please feel confident in your decision and have fun making baby #2!

  • Dorothy

    I also had a C-section, and also had no nursing issues.  None.  Well…until he teethed and his latch changed (and gosh, don’t I feel guilty for saying that after the last Smackdown).  And my DS had a lip tie.  Obviously something he either worked around or it wasn’t as severe as others.  

    So my advice is: learn as much as you can, don’t stress, and don’t worry about specifics until they come up.  I wish I hadn’t worried as much about nursing before I had DS.  But, of course, that is coming from someone who thankfully had tiny, tiny issues compared with others. 

  • Katie

    Point the first (and the one most likely to get me hatey comments). My recovery after a planned section was much easier than after a 36 hour labor from hell, culminating in 3 hours if pushing and a massive episiotomy with vacuum extraction (and a torticollis diagnosis for baby). Sometimes, a section is just the right call.

    Second–due to low supply with my first, I requested a pump in the hospital. It was great for helping build supply after the section, and the best part is that you get a great kit from Medea with all kinds of collection bottles, tubing, and even one of those pumps to remove the extra air from the top of the bottle. Yay for free stuff! So even if you don’t pump a lot in the hospital, ask for the kit 🙂

  • tina

    I had 3 c-sections and breastfed all my nuggets for a year each. Aside from the general breastfeeding learning curve with the first one and a stubborn latcher for the last one. All was fairly smooth.
    Good luck momma!

  • hp

    I had a c-section after they determined that I had an infection and baby needed out! right! then! I did supplement in the hospital because my mik wasn’t coming in fast enough for my gung-ho nurse (but that was only when she was in the room and wanted me to). After I got home, no more formula needed–just a lot of nursing. 22 months later, I can’t get the kid off the boobies. So…c-section =/= no nursing in my experience. Other anecdotes (even though the plural of anecdotes is not data), four of my close friends all had c-sections and three of the four were able to nurse (two exclusively, one sorta). So…don’t stress over it.

  • Ally

    I had an emergency C-Section with my first, and the other three were planned. All of mine were champs with breastfeeding. I talked to my doctor and as much of the staff ahead of time with my last three births about my desire to breastfeed as soon as possible.I was able to have my babies with my while in the recovery room so I could start nursing. We live in a small town with a small hospital. They are great about seeing to the mom’s wishes. I pumped a lot from the beginning with all of them to make sure I had a good supply and to stock the freezer (hello fun date nights). 

  • I’ve had 2 C-sections and both kids took to the breast immediately. We had later breastfeeding struggles but they were farther down the line and totally different from each other (so I don’t think it had anything to do with how they were birthed). My first baby was in the NICU for a week, but he latched on and nursed before having to go there, and my milk came in just great with pumping during that time. With my second the nurses after the first 24 hours were impressed with how many wet and dirty diapers my baby had. My milk came in right on schedule after that. I will say that I wish I hadn’t needed the C-sections, just because of the prolonged recovery period (even when things are healed up there are still some lingering internal issues. It hurt when I sneezed for a year after my first baby and I still have some weird tenderness that my doctor said is probably some scar tissue) but I don’t have a vaginal birth experience to compare it to. Just do some extra reading on breastfeeding positions that are good for c-section recovery so that you are prepared, and maybe bring a Boppy or something to the hospital for when it’s difficult to lean forward and you might need the baby higher than those stupid flat hospital pillows will help with! (Lesson learned for next time!) 😉

  • Karen

    I had an emergency c-section with my son and had no trouble nursing him for over a year.  My milk came in maybe 2 or 3 days after having him (and it came in with a vengeance!) and he had a bit of trouble latching at first but we both figured it out and never needed to supplement.  My recovery was also pretty quick.

  • Amy

    I’ve had two c-sections. The first came after my water broke without being in labor. I was induced and on pitocin for 30 hours with no progress. Exhausted, I had a c-section. It was awful. My upper body shook the whole time. In recovery I was too tired to even hold my son, let alone breastfeed. That said, after a couple of weeks we had the bf’ing thing down, and I nursed him until he was 22 months and I was pregnant with our second.
    With our second my water again broke early and again I wasn’t in labor. Since I had been there before, I decided to just do the section. It wouldn’t have been prudent to induce anyway given the previous section. I had hoped for a VBAC, but just in case I couldn’t I did a lot of research. I came across the relatively new concept of a “natural” c-section. http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/01/whats-a-natural-cesarean-and-how-natural-is-it-really
    While I didn’t see her coming out, they did put my daughter on my chest right away rather than taking her to the warmer immediately. I don’t know if it helped with bf’ing, but skin-to-skin is known to help, and when I finally got to recovery and could hold her to nurse she latched right on.
    So, was I unable to nurse because of a c-section? Absolutely not! Good luck!

  • Kirsten

    Another happy C-Section/breastfeeding story here.  No problems at all with supply — well, no, actually, I had problems with OVERSUPPLY which I didn’t know was a thing that could cause a baby issues, so PSA.  It’s a thing.  It looks like lactose intolerance, but it isn’t.  Anyhow.  Back to the point at hand.  

    We did a tiny bit of supplementing up front, using a cup rather than a bottle.  Sometimes, we’d put formula on my nipples just to get him interested or take the edge off so he could figure out the latching thing.  It helped a lot.  I have happily breastfed him into toddlerhood.  

    There are lots of women who do natural birth who have issues with breastfeeding and lots of women with c-sections who breastfeed with no problems and neither of those things make a mother better or worse.  The baby gets born.  The baby is fed.  There are no labor/lactation olympics to medal in.  I hope very much you are able to find a midwife supportive of your choices.  

  • mallory

    FInd a new midwife. 3 c sections, all breastfed into toddlerhood. Bring a boppy to the hospital, those hospital pillows don’t offer enough support, plus you can pull it up higher above the incision sight. Also, get up out of bed as soon as they ask you to, it hurts at first, but I swear it helps with recovery. Good luck to you and boo and hiss on anyone who does not support YOUR decision!

  • Kylee

    And yet another happy c section story here. I had twins – they both latched straight away when I was in recovery, even though they were small, and I had enough milk easily for both of them (and I nursed till they were thirteen months). So a c section certainly does not prevent, or necessarily even inhibit, breastfeeding. Shame shame shame on those midwives! And if they are that unsupportive, go elsewhere to find a care provider that suits what you want – it’s your body and your baby. 

  • Paige

    I had two c-sections, one emergency, one scheduled. Both of my children were breast fed. 

    My first child, with the emergency c-section, I didn’t get to see her for 2.5 hours after the birth. I was in recovery, and she and my husband weren’t allowed in until I could wiggle my toes. But I nursed her right away as soon as my stupid toes were wiggly enough! She did develop jaundice and dehydration, but was only on a supplement for 5 days, and then was exclusively breastfed until 6 months. She continued to nurse until her third birthday. 

    My second baby I had at a different hospital. They let me hold him right away, in the operating room, while I was being stapled, and then I was able to nurse him while we were in Recovery. There didn’t seem to be any question about whether my toes wiggled enough. Because I had only weaned my first when I was 4 months pregnant, my body knew just what to do, and I needed no supplements with the second. He’s still breast-fed at 17 months.

    My best piece of advice is: try the football hold. It kept the baby off the incision for the first few weeks, which was really nice.

  • IrishCream

    Two c-sections, two breastfed babies. Nursing was tough for the first four weeks with my first, but guess what? It almost always is tough with your first, as you learn a new skill that is natural but not necessarily intuitive. Patience and a good lactation consultant, and we got through.

    With my second, she was nursing within 15 minutes of the c-section. Easy-peasy.

    I’ll also say that although I have no vaginal birth experience as a comparison, my recovery was very easy. It’s different for every woman and every birth, but I was fortunate to bounce back very quickly, showering within 36 hours, able to lift my toddler within 72 hours after my second was born, and walking (slowly) around the neighborhood within a few days (all with my OB’s okay).

  • Jeannie

    I didn’t have c-sections but did just want to note that breast feeding my second was MUCH easier than the first, and I’ve heard this from many other people too. I’d imagine you would also have this experience on your side, so chances are good things would be just fine, breast-feeding wise. 

  • Erica

    I gotta say, I tell everyone my c-section was as close as a stork bringing my baby as you can get in this life. I had an easier recovery than any of my friends, except for the one that pushed for 20 minutes and never felt labor pains (I mean, really, how do you beat that one?). My OBGYN was a huge part of this, as she is also a really high level surgeon, so she knows what she is doing. She used glue to close mine and my scar is so small and thin, it just looks like a crease in the skin.

    My recovery list additions to Amy would be: take your meds on schedule, for at least a week. Buy some soft ice packs you can keep on it for awhile, they help a few days after when the itchiness starts. And, I really loved my Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet because it meant I didn’t have to sit up or really even twist to get the baby – the two most painful motions after a C. Overall, I think you’ll find the experience much easier and the recovery better than your previous birth.

  • Courtney

    No personal experience here, but I have plenty of friends who had c-sections and were able to breastfeed with no problems.

    But OP’s comment about “vaginal birth sucks” gave me pause. Do you think OP might have some PTSD/trauma from her last birth? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with electing for a c-section, but it might help to talk to a professional about why your last birth sucked and how you might be able to change that this time around.

  • KR

    I, too, had 2 c-sections, which were followed by successful breastfeeding.  I did find that recovering from a (semi-) planned c-section was NIGHT AND DAY different from recovering from an emergency c-section after laboring for a lot of hours – for what it’s worth.
    As a side note, there was a study last year that showed (in a more systematic way than blog commenting!) that a small amount of supplementing with formula in the hospital lead to much higher long-term rates of breastfeeding success.  So don’t be afraid to accept a little supplementing help in those first days if you need to!
    On my post-c-section recovery list, especially if you have a previous kid, is full-time help for at least the first week after birth – you will not be picking up a toddler, doing laundry, or really much of anything besides nursing and resting – so if you can work out time off for your partner, or family staying with you, or ideally both, everyone will be better off.  Also: a boppy and/or my-breast-friend pillow, some way of timing your medications (I used one of those “itzbeen” timers but I’m sure there are smartphone apps . . . you will need some way of tracking when you took your last this pill and your last that pill), some flowy dresses and/or cozy maternity pants that don’t have a seam right where your scar will be, and some kind of portable netflix-friendly device to entertain you during the many many hours of successful breastfeeding you’ll be doing 🙂

  • Sarah

    C-section. Happily breastfeeding a 20 month old.

    Recovery can vary wildly – I was walking around and fine on day 3, my friend was in her bed for about 2 weeks from pain.

  • Cassie

    Two c-sections (my uterus is weak, and is not capable of pushing a baby out – I never went into labor with my first; the second I had a better doctor and we got labor started and then it stalled out), both breastfed fine. The first one was tough, but probably because it was my first. He got a supplement, maybe two, in the hospital and then my milk came in and I had over supply. I was actually able to store up a month’s worth of breastmilk so that when we weaned, he got breastmilk for another month. Baby 2 was much easier. 

    I would hesitate to continue to go to midwives who seem to be trying to scare you. If you’re in Chicago, Dr. Hubka is the best OB in the world. She’s very focused on natural childbirth (she was all about helping me attempt a VBAC and had a slew of induction tricks that did NOT involve pitocin – I literally tried EVERYTHING before we went ahead with the section – which was all I wanted; to TRY to do it naturally). ANYWAY. It would be a good idea to talk to an OB/GYN or Midwife who you trust about why the first experience was so bad, and who will listen to you and work with you to find a solution that works for you. 

  • Kristen

    I have my 8 month old c section, EBF baby resting on me right now. My supply came in within a few days and I’ve never had any issues of any sort. I find your midwives suspect and would consider shopping around.
    Also, I was up and showered the next morning (24hrs post surgery) and never struggled with the stairs or a short walk. I had a very quick recovery. I would absolutely do it the same way again.

  • Felicity Marie

    Oh my goodness. Maybe midwives meant to say, you are more likely to have difficulties after a C-section? Cuz otherwise they are just nuts. And making me mad.

    I had a planned section. My little pumpkin latched on within an hour and nursed like a champ the first day. On day 2 she started having trouble latching, and we supplemented with formula, while still nursing. My milk came in on day 3, and I think it was a week after milk coming in that we didn’t need to supplement anymore. Anyways, we had some bumps in the road during the first month, but I wound up nursing her until she was 2 years and a few months old. Seriously, I thought she would never give up her bedtime nursing, but I got pregnant and our nursing relationship came to an end. 

    So moral of the story – it might be difficult at first, but of course you can breastfeed after a C section. And your kid might never want to stop. 🙂 I also second the recommendation for comfortable nursing pillows, or a super soft regular pillow that doesn’t put pressure on your belly. 

  • Kittin

    I’m probably the only person here who’s going to say otherwise. I had an emergency c-section, and a baby who breastfed a grand total of one time. HOWEVER – we had other issues involved. He was in serious distress, and crashed not long after he was born, which meant he was taken straight to NICU rather than staying with me in Recovery. And he was in there for 3 days, during which time he was given formula, as my milk hadn’t quite come in.

    I just want to say, if you can’t breastfeed, don’t beat yourself up over it. But since I definitely seem to be the exception to the rule, I wouldn’t worry about it yet.

  • Olivia

    I had a c-section with my first and had zero problems breastfeeding. I nursed her in recovery, in fact. Just had to wait until I could wiggle my toes, and my husband held her skin to skin while I was being put back together. I recommend you insist on your partner being able to do that with your baby.

    As for that midwife, ugh, not cool. If you are really set on the c-section I don’t know why you would see a midwife anyway. She will just have to transfer your care to an OB before you give birth. Might as well find a doc who is supportive of the kind of birth you want and have continuity of care.

  • Michelle B

    Another scheduled c-section here (breached baby) and no problems nursing at all. I breastfed my daughter for a full year, no issues. I had staples and had no issues with them, either. I will second the probiotics tip, as well as the football hold – it is hands down the most comfortable post c-section. Do be sure to communicate that you plan to breastfeed and want the baby back to you ASAP. I had my daughter back in about half an hour, but another friend had to wait hours and was frustrated by this. Best of luck!

  • susanem

    GET DIFFERENT MIDWIVES? data points first: 2 babies, one born each way- both breastfed exclusively and rather easily. Back to the midwife thing, if they can’t hear your needs and respond without fear mongering now… hire someone else. Not a good fit and pregnancy is too long, scary, and awesome to go with a bad fit. 

    Good luck momma.

  • Demery

    Just want to add to the parade of encouragement:  Two babies; two c-sections.  The first was emergency; recovery was painful but breastfeeding was absolutely fine.  The second was scheduled; recovery was at most 1/10 as painful as the first go round. (Talk to your doctor in advance about a pain management plan and stay ahead of the pain with the good drugs on offer.  Seriously.  3 days of the hard stuff and I didn’t even need ibuprofen after a few more days.)  A devout Amalah reader, I took probiotics ahead of time, pounded the the Mother’s Milk tea in the hospital after giving birth, etc. Breastfeeding was absolutely fine, once again.  But, really, your plan of “get educated and then go for it” sounds good to me!  Good luck!!

  • Elizabeth

    I can’t say that I found my c sections at all enjoyable, but they did not impact my nursing at all.  In fact the situation with my first was a total recipe for breast feeding disaster ( 48 labor, 20 hours on pit., several rounds of ivantibiotics, emergency c sec where I had a bad reaction to the spinal and stopped breathing didn’t see or hold my son for over six hours, 9.5 lb baby) and we never had a single issue.  Once he finally got to see me and latch on that was it for us.  In fact he never had any formula at all and nursed for two years (which I say only to prove the point that csection doesn’t automatically mean breast feeding doom– I’ve got nothing against formula!).  My second was a repeat and the surgery was much easier, I was never separated from her and nursed in recovery.  I was standing up within three hours — it was like night and day.  No nursing issues with her either. It was very healing for me to have the positive second birth– the first was rather traumatic for me.  I hope you have a better expirence second time around.

  • Sara

    I’ve had 2 planned c-sections.  For anecdotal data, my milk came in on day 6 with the first and day 7 with the second.  I had supply issues with both, but no idea if that is related to having a c-section. Both needed supplementation starting in the hospital.

    My first section was relatively easy, but the second had many complications.  My advice would be to set up some help in advance for your older child.  I re-opened my incision lifting my toddler around, which required me to be on antibiotics, which then led to thrush for for me and the baby, and then had many complications after that.  With both sections it took a real 6 weeks before I  felt at all back to normal, so I’d plan on needing extra help for at least that long.

  • Caroline

    I got to the part where midwives are trying to terrorise you by saying your baby ”probably won’t” breastfeed if you have a C-section and then I lost my temper completely. What a load of doo-doo. After a terrible, traumatic birth OF ANY KIND (sounds like you had one before!), breastfeeding CAN *sometimes* be a bit difficult to begin with. To say anything else is flat-out wrong and just bullying tactics. I have had 3 C-sections. I have breastfed 3 very different babies. Guess which one involved the most initial difficulty? The one that was preceded by days of misery, exhaustion and ended in an emergency C-section… where my baby was NOT allowed skin-to-skin as early as practically feasible… where I was ignored and left with a little baby in a clear cot next to me, unable to really move and so tired I couldn’t see straight. Amazingly, that breastfeeding relationship got off to a poor start… and yes, I had midwives simpering knowingly and muttering that it was the C-section that was my problem, my being too posh to push. Rant over. As long as your birth is calm and unfussed, relatively speaking, and your baby is given the opportunity as quickly as possible to breastfeed (with the help of the nurses initially), you have just as good a chance at breastfeeding successfully as anyone else. It makes me so, so angry when these militant ”vaginal or die” people start trotting out skewed rubbish!! Ignore them! Tell them to go and get their facts straight. Be totally blunt about it. As far as recovery goes, there is a fantastic thing called Blackthorn elixir which is a great tonic for new moms AND which helps the old breast milk along too, definitely invest in that (it might be called something different in the US, but health shops will most likely have something like that). Be careful in the beginning, don’t overdo it, make those midwives help you to establish a good hold for breastfeeding, and don’t be shy about then asking them to take baby to the nursery so that you can totally switch off and sleep. Rest and recovery is so important when you have got a toddler at home especially. Best of luck! You will do very well, just ignore them!

  • StaceyS

    2 csections and 2 breast fed babies here! 2nd baby I even attempted breastfeeding while still on operating table! (Hospital adopted wonderful new policy that had c sections more “natural birth” friendly.

    One tip – look up side lying breast feeding position. Way to go!

  • A.L

    I have heard this sort of thing too, mostly from natural birth and breastfeeding advocates. I don’t know how accurate that is though and suspect if anything, it’s more of a correlation than a causation thing.

    Either way, it should not stop you from having the birth you want. As evidenced by the many comments above, it’s absolutely possible to have a good breastfeeding experience after a C-section.

    And, as more anecdotal evidence, my mother breastfed me and my sisters (twins!) after c-sections with no problems. While I had a totally natural vaginal birth and my daughter just would not latch right. After 5 weeks of misery I read a post from Amalah and finally gave myself permission to let go and just feed my baby already.

    Neither way guarantees you success or failure in breastfeeding.

    My (totally nonscientific) opinion is that you’re probably more likely to be successful after a birth that is as comfortable and stress free as possible. And if for you that will be a planned C-section, then by all means, go for it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • Kate

     Just to pile on– emergency C-section, excellent BF’ing experience. He latched on the moment they put him on my chest in recovery.

    As for a post-C recovery kit–make sure you have a helper with you in the hospital every day (partner, parent, friend, etc). You will not be able to get out of bed the first day, and for the first 48 hours or so moving around is slow. It helps to have someone to hand you your baby when it’s time to feed.

  • Dana

    I had a scheduled C-section (breech) and had no problem breastfeeding.  I did get a pump in the hospital which probably helped the milk come in earlier than it might have.  I used nipple shields for a while but I think that had more to do with the nurses opinion than actually needing them.  

  • Carolina

    Emergent, highly-stressful C-section. My daughter latched on in recovery and didn’t stop nursing for two years.

    The midwives are likely trying to change your mind because they can’t do C-sections.

  • RAS

    I had three c-sections — two after labor, one planned. I had a terrible time getting established with nursing my first kid, but the other two were easy.

    What made the difference? In truth, I don’t know, but I very strongly suspect it was because of where I gave birth.

    The hospital where DD1 was born talked a good game about natural childbirth and nursing and rooming in. In truth, they were HORRIBLE. Like, something out of the 50s horrible. Hospital policy was that babies stay in the nursery until Mom comes out of recovery and is moved to a postpartum room. No exceptions, even if, say, the hospital is chock full and Mom can’t get a room for hours after the baby is born. And no, dad can’t have the baby either. As a result, I didn’t lay so much as a finger on DD until she was almost 3 hours old. I had to beg (literally, beg, in tears) to see an LC and even then she didn’t come by until DD was a full day old. By then, the nurses had insisted that I was starving DD because my milk was so slow coming in and that she required formula. I was such a sniveling, defeated mess by the time we checked out that it’s a miracle I managed to nurse at all. Honestly, I think it was pure orneriness that made me keep going.

    My subsequent children were born at a different hospital. DH got to hold them for the few minutes it took for them to fix me up and wheel me into recovery, at which point they handed the baby over. Both times, my kid didn’t leave my arms (let alone my sight) until I was good and ready to let them go. Each got to nurse in the recovery room and we had no problems.

    Basically, this boils down to the following:

    1. Ask questions. Demand answers, if need be. And don’t be afraid to challenge any policy or answer that sounds fishy.

    2. Assuming you live somewhere that has more than one choice of hospital, do not be afraid to shop around. Find a place that works for you, even if it’s further away or requires new doctors. I switched hospitals at 37.5 weeks with my second daughter, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

    Good luck!

  • jill

    I had one c-section, a VBAC, and a scheduled c-section with twins who hung around so long they would no longer let me try for a V2BAC.  Nursed all 4 of my babies with no problems, never had thrush, never did probiotics, milk came in on day 4 every time like clockwork.

    My bigger problem with OPs email is that she seems to think a c-section is an easy birth.  Every birth is different and blah blah but seriously?  My VBAC was the easiest recovery of all of mine.  Especially with an older child at home, it’s just easiest to come home and not be recovering from a surgery.  Unless doctors/midwives are recommending you have a c-section I would not suggest having one because you think it’s going to be in any way “easier” than a vaginal birth.  And with my VBAC I had 30+ hours of labor, a foley bulb, pitocin, and a 3rd degree tear.  Still my “easiest” birth BY FAR.  
    Good luck getting pregnant and best of luck with your future nursing relationship!

    • Question asker

      I understand, and I assure you I have done my research as thoroughly as I possibly can. I don’t think a c section is an easy option. Recovering from major abdominal surgery does not look fun. But, my vaginal birth ended in two tears; one up, one down. I was catheterised and placed on a normal post-natal ward, unable to get out of bed, unable to look after my baby, with no staff to help me. My daughter wasn’t fed for 15 hours after birth because she wouldn’t latch (lip & tongue tie) and there was no one available to assist/show me what to do. It was the worst, most helpless time of my life, and I am very afraid of this happening again. 
      My tears also took 7 months to heal so I could resume “normal activities”. And 13 months later I still have discomfort, I have been told the ‘up’ tear is likely to reoccur. I am asking for a c section because I would like to avoid a repeat awful time I had with the vaginal delivery, not to find an easy way out. 

      • Amie

        “But, my vaginal birth ended in two tears; one up, one down.”

        *Shudder.* Not that I think you need to justify yourself, but that’s a pretty good reason to opt for the C/S, I’d say.

        And to add my data point, both my girls were born vaginally, and both sucked (ha!) at breastfeeding, so you never know what you’re going to get.

  • DontBlameTheKids

    Ridiculous. I doubt a C-section alone would cause nursing problems. Anecdotally, my second was born two months early via C-section. I had to pump for two months, because she wasn’t strong enough to nurse, but my milk did in fact come in. And then I nursed her until she was 18 months old. So it can work.

  • Jess

    Two c-sections, two exclusively breastfed babies.  The first c-section was unplanned and due to no progress past 6 cm dilation.  That time even though I had gone into labor naturally, it took a full 5 days for my milk to really come in (though the baby got plenty of colostrum in those 5 days – I was just very, very chafed and sore by the time there was a good supply).

    Second c-section was supposed to be a VBAC, though my OB scheduled me for a c-section in case I made it past 41 weeks without going into labor.  I went into labor three days before that date, pushed for an hour, and had a c-section anyway.  Milk came in late on day 3 I think.

    I do think there might be some merit in scheduling the section late – as late as possible.  It gives the baby time to mature, it gives your body time to get ready to feed the baby, and it gives you a chance to start labor which can kick a lot of hormones into gear that are helpful with recovery and milk production.  But I know lots of women who scheduled their sections and had normal (normal meaning “ran the gamut of all the usual problems”, NOT “perfect” since that doesn’t exist) breastfeeding experiences.

  • Christy

    Dude. New midwives. No truth there at all. I had one vaginal birth and the rest were sections. My last round was with twins who were 31weekers…and they were in the NICU for around four and five weeks respectively. I pumped and had no issues with milk coming in and building supply for two, even though it was weeks before I could latch them. Now my girls are thirteen months and I’m still nursing one of them (the other had a severe failure to thrive style dairy allergy so needed to be on crazy formula. It’s good though – every time someone asks me why I nurse one and bottle the other I tell them I’m doing an experiment. Messing with people is fun!!) 

    The point is though there is no science to back up a claim that your method of delivery will impact your ability to breastfed – or mother your child in any darn way you see fit. There may be other issues – there always are curve balls – but you will rise to them and be awesome. Cheers mama!!

    • Jelourai

      “It’s good though – every time someone asks me why I nurse one and bottle the other I tell them I’m doing an experiment.”

      That is just so, so hilarious and awesome.  Good for you!!!

  • Martha

    I didn’t have a c-section, but my sister had two and breastfeed both my nephew and my niece. The only differences were that her milk took longer to come in that mine did (3 or 4 days after birth for her, I think) and she had more difficulty finding a comfortable nursing position.  She didn’t nurse either my nephew or niece for more than 3 months, but that was due to lack of support from her husband not the c-section. 

    Good luck!

  • Dani

    I did not have a c-section, but my best friend did and she and I had a very similar nursing story – both breastfed exclusively for a year, both babies latched nicely right from the start, both of our milk came in around day 2, etc.  There was really no difference!  I have heard the laying down nursing position is great post c-section, as is the football hold (as opposed to the cross body where babe is maybe rubbing your belly too much).  

    Good luck!

  • Amanda

    No C-Section here. I had a completely natural, drug free birth, and guess what? My baby never learned to latch. Even the best laid plans go awry, and I’m glad there are so many here to dispel the myth that C-section = formula or that natural birth automatically means a successful breastfeeding relationship.

  • Question asker person

    Thank you! I am the question-asker. It is so lovely, however un-unsciencey it is, to read all these stories. My first was a natural vaginal delivery, 39 hours, with a heck lot of tearing and a lovely baby girl who did not EVER latch. I pumped for 9 months, so she was exclusively breastfed for a fairly long time nonetheless. Breastfeeding is really important to me and I think the midwives know that’s the right button to press to try and persuade me to not have the c section. So yeah, thanks lot 🙂 I feel armoured and ready for my next argument with them! 

  • Grace

    I had an unplanned c-section because my little guy got stuck at 9 cm for hours. And he nursed from the get-go and I continued to breastfeed for a year. 

    I want to second Amy’s comment about avoiding oversupply. I had a horrible time with lactation consultants after my son’s birth. He lost a pound after birth and everyone lost their shizz over it. I figured out he just wasn’t latching right, and knew in my gut it would be fine. But instead, I got badgered into going to lactation appointments over and over in the week or so post-birth, sore from my c-section. I was told to nurse him, then pump for 15 minutes after, every 2 hours. Which equaled zero sleep for me, sore boobs, and some severe depression from lack of sleep.

    Then I had a huge oversupply issue from pumping that lasted months, causing tons of problems with breastfeeding until my son was close to 4 months. Lots of back-arching and crying, latching and unlatching, because he was basically flooded with milk every time he tried to nurse. All of this could have been avoided if I just did what I was supposed to do: nurse my baby. That’s it! No pumping or extra steps needed.

    Women in my mom’s generation who breastfed (and I actually know a lot of them), didn’t pump or do anything special. They all expected their babies would lose about a pound after they left the hospital, but that they would gain it back fast. Now almost every breastfeeding mom I know is told to either supplement with formula or pump or both. I seriously doubt it’s because we have some sort of boob epidemic hurting everyone’s supply.

    So long story short: Do what feels right. Ask for help if you need it, but don’t think lactation consultants’ word is gospel. Mine basically went “oops!” after my whole fiasco.

  • Kim too

    2 vaginal births here, at 35 and 36 weeks. My first ended up  in the NICU for a week, but had zero problems breastfeeding and weaned at 18 mos.  My second birth was a breeze, and she came straight home.  Massive issues breastfeeding, which didn’t get straightened out until we saw a pediatric OT at 9 weeks. (I had an awesome LC, but the OT? Rocked. OT for nursing, it doesn’t get talked about enough.)
    All of which to say is, it will be what it is, check out OT if you have an issue the LC can’t solve, and oh – you owe *no one* any explanations for your medical decisions.  NO ONE.
    Best of luck with the whole process.

  • Erica

    3 vaginal births (yes, with pitocin and epidurals) and 3 times my milk didn’t come in enough to sustain infant life and prevent round the clock screaming for six long, tortuous, hormonal days.  Some of us are just like that.  Supplement if you need to, don’t make everyone suffer, and give it plenty of time and persistence.
      My second and third also had trouble latching on, but a nipple shield saved the nursing and everyone nursed for 10 months each.  At which time they weaned themselves and began yelling in rage at my boobs.
    Kids are weird.  You’ll be fine

  • Kaeli

    Ok. Third pregnancy here. Csections with first two and will have one with this one. First child was allergic to my precious milk. Second child… That’s where my question for you comes in. He latched on and wanted momma-score! However, since I did have a csection, that meant I was on (amazing) painkillers. The painkillers made my son so aleepy that he was failing to thrive. Of course I had no idea till his first appointment where he had lost over a lb by then. So I was advise to stop and feed him formula. So this one, of course I’m going to try to breastfeed but I’ll get over my “I can do it all” attitude and I will supplement as well as breastfeeding. My question (finally!) did you notice any problems with your meds and breastfeeding?

  • Hannah

    I never comment, but I had to on this one because I have had three c-sections and have exclusively breastfed the first two until toddlerhood and the third is 6 months.  I feel like I have spanned the divide as hospitals have become more breastfeeding friendly, which is why I’m commenting.  My hospital recently changed their policy and is putting an emphasis on skin to skin, so with my third c-section I was able to have my baby placed skin to skin with me immediately following vitals while I was being sewn up.  I actually had some complications so my surgery took longer than normal and I was in there for an additional hour, so being able to hold my daughter while that was all going on was amazing!  Took my mind off of everything that was going on behind the sheet and gave us some great bonding time.  The nurse in surgery with me said that they have already seen great results in moms and babies recovering quicker from the surgery due to the new policy.  My husband was even able to take over for a little while with his own skin-to skin time to give me a break.  Then she rode to recovery with me, where I was able to breastfeed her, and then into the maternity ward without ever leaving my side.  It was a wonderful experience.  All that to say – check your hospital’s policy and it never hurts to ask to see if that would be a possibility.  I think the sooner you can have your baby with you, the better.  To answer the question above about the meds – yes, my babies were all very sleepy while I was in the hospital.  #3 the most – nothing would wake her up – and she lost a pound.  I think supplementing with formula while you’re in the hospital and pumping to keep up your supply can be a good way to get through the drugged up time.  For number 3, I hand pumped and fed her with a syringe just so the nurses were satisfied that she was eating as well as continuing to try to get her to breastfeed.

  • Kayla

    I’m a postpartum nurse and have met the requirements to sit for the lactation consultant exam, and I definitely disagree with the midwives telling you that. I believe they’re using it as a tactic to dissuade you from a scheduled C-section for other reasons, but I don’t have to tell you all the benefits of a natural vaginal delivery. Any benefits from a natural birth won’t make up for the potential emotional stress of going through it again.

    The only 2 downsides I have seen is a longer wait till milk comes in and sometimes a spitty baby. The spitty baby resolves, for the most part,  in 24 hours. The delay of getting your milk can be helped by knowing your blood loss – if you lose a lot, start pumping. Same goes for if your baby is sleepy.  Otherwise,  there are very few issues with breastfeeding related to delivery. 

  • Lindsey

    I had a rough vaginal delivery as well, which resulted in my daughter being taken straight to the NICU, given a pacifier, and not allowed to nurse or even be held for nearly 24 hours. I lost a ton of blood. I was never told I should be pumping every 3 hours while we were separated – I pumped maybe twice? And we had absolutely no problems breastfeeding. She latched beautifully. I never had sore nipples. My milk came in 3 days later and she was well over her birth weight at her one week checkup. We had no supply issues at all (until I got the stomach flu when she was 6 months, but that’s another story). I echo Amy and say gurl, plz to anyone who suggests that you put yourself through another rough vaginal delivery to avoid potential issues breastfeeding. My vaginal delivery resulted in way more potential breastfeeding pitfalls than any c-section I’ve ever heard of, and we were fine.