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What are the issues you may encounter during breastfeeding after a C-section?

Sep 29, 2022

C-section surgery brings some complications with nursing aspects since the abdominal incision will be more painful. However, you can overcome the difficulties with proper support and techniques.

Generally, apart from the pain, the hormonal shift that stimulates milk production is the same, irrespective of the way of delivery. The biological process is the same, however postpartum care may often differ which impacts the breastfeeding conditions. Many reasons reduce your breast milk supply like less skin-to-skin touch, delay to start breastfeeding, and also stress due to pain.

Impact on Breast Milk Supply After a Cesarean 

Experts say, when a baby is born through a cesarean birth, within 90 minutes if the baby gets breastfed, then formula supplementation may reduce comparatively.

This is because the skin-to-skin contact of both mother and baby may lead to healthy mothers and infants. This may eventually boost breast milk production naturally. The doctors and the nurses should practice recommending an early skin-to-skin contact routine after cesarean birth.

Even a failure to initiate earlier breastfeeding may impact the breast milk supply and this leads to a lower rate of breastfeeding in cesarean births. Also, the majority of cesarean babies may get separated from their mothers and the immediate use of formula supplementation may be the cause of lower breastfeeding rates. 

Studies have shown that mothers who breastfeed their babies after cesarean delivery have the same advantages as those mothers who deliver vaginally

It promotes mother-baby bonding, provides breast milk stimulation, benefits the baby with the nutrition-rich colostrum, increases the newborn sucking urge, oxytocin hormone release to help the mother’s uterus contraction, and also may get relief of delivery pain and stress.

The release of oxytocin during earlier breastfeeding may allow the mother’s body to relax and produce more milk. The stress of the new mother may negatively impact lactation and milk production.

Here are some solutions to reduce the stress after cesarean delivery:

1. Physical and Mental Recovery:

Your body may get healed very soon itself, for which you may not require to push yourself to get recovered too early. You should discuss with your doctor to find a breastfeeding-safe pain medication and practice to manage your pain.

2. Find Relaxing time:

Listen to relaxing music, you may use essential oils with pleasant fragrances to make yourself feel relaxed before nursing or pumping.

3. Lean on your support:

You may lean and expect support from your partner or even your mother to help you out in the days after your cesarean delivery.

Causes of Breast Milk Production After Delivery

The breast milk production process begins in the earlier weeks of pregnancy. When an embryo's development is at 6 weeks, the hormone estrogen causes current milk glands to swell and grow. As estrogen and progesterone levels rise during pregnancy, the number of milk ducts starts to grow in a woman’s breasts. 

By the time of the due date, the milk ducts may produce colostrum which is rich in nutrition and antibodies. The prolactin hormone produces colostrum with sugar, protein, and fat from the blood supply. However, the level of prolactin stays low because of the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone produced by a baby’s placenta.

After your delivery either vaginally or through cesarean, the estrogen and progesterone levels immediately drop down. This causes prolactin to shift to a higher level and begins the production of breast milk. On average, milk production starts flowing three to four days post delivery.

From these explanations, we conclude that the biological process is the same for both vaginal and cesarean delivery, but the difference lies in post-delivery care and recovery.


Related: Factors leading to Cesarean Delivery

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Tips to Increase Breastmilk Supply

The best way to promote a healthy supply of breast milk is to start feeding early, frequently breastfeed, and make sure your baby is latching on correctly.

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