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C-Sections and Breastfeeding

Giving birth by cesarean section instead of vaginal delivery should not prevent you from breastfeeding your new bundle of joy. Making use of medication, lots of pillows and comfortable positions can help you through the pain. After a C-section you may experience a delay in the let-down of your milk. Don't despair. With determination and commitment, you can successfully breastfeed your baby.

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Caeserean Procedure

A C-section is usually performed when the mother or fetus is in danger or for the delivery of more than one baby, as with twins. It takes about 45 minutes and the baby is born within the first 15 minutes. In most cases, the mother stays awake for the entire procedure. After the placenta is removed, the incision is stitched or stapled closed. The incision may be horizontal or vertical, depending on your individual situation, according to American Pregnancy. Once the baby is delivered, you will be given the opportunity to hold and bond with your infant almost immediately. Breastfeeding can start as soon as you're able -- even in recovery with the help of a nurse. Breastfeeding helps contract your uterus and reduce the bleeding.

Let-down Reflex

When your infant latches on to your areola and begins to suck, she starts a process called the let-down reflex. The stimulated nerves in your nipple send a signal to your brain that releases the hormone oxytocin. This causes small muscles around your milk glands to contract, and in seconds your baby receives milk. Several things, however, can hinder this process. One is the pain that you are likely to experience after the anesthesia wears off. To encourage the let-down reflex, increase your confidence and enable you and your newborn to be relaxed, ask to breastfeed before the discomfort starts


Because pain can play a large role in your commitment to breastfeed by decreasing oxytoxin release, consider using medication to remain comfortable. Once the anesthesia wears off, your doctor can put pain medication into your IV. Afterwards, you can take a painkiller by mouth. The majority of pain medications your obstetrician prescribes to you do not cross through into your breast milk. Even though your infant may be a little sleepy, the benefits of breastfeeding are greater than the potential sleepiness.

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Get Comfortable

While you're still in hospital, the pain from your incision should start to subside. However, find ways to position yourself so that your hungry infant isn't weighing on your tummy and the incision. The more at ease you are, the easier your milk will flow. Ask for help from the nurses, your partner or any other family member to position lots of pillows to support you, especially over your incision. Once home, if your baby is tiny, you may be able to support him on a pillow placed on your stomach. If not, have someone help you move onto your side, and nurse your hungry young one while he lies beside you. Make sure he's supported with a pillow too, so he doesn't take a tumble. Also ensure that you aren't resting your breast on his nose and blocking his airway.

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