Although your experience of having a cesarean section is not unique, every woman responds in her own way. Bonding with your baby after a cesarean section can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Be patient with yourself and your baby, and talk with your doctor about your concerns.
The process of labor releases hormones and endorphins that encourage bonding, says Leigh Anne O'Connor, a New-York based International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Although some women go through labor before a C-section, "the absence of labor means the absence of these conditions," says O'Connor, who adds that pain medications can inhibit the release of these hormones, as well. Moms who had unplanned cesarean sections may experience sadness, guilt or disappointment that their birth experience wasn't what they had hoped for. A cesarean section generally means a longer recovery with more discomfort, which can make it hard to feed, care for and bond with your baby.
Take Care of Yourself
Talk with your partner, a close friend, your doctor or a counselor if you feel detached from your infant after a C-section. Get help with basic household tasks and with caring for the baby as you recover, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics. Most new moms feel fatigue, but exhaustion is more likely for moms recovering from a cesarean section, and can interfere with bonding. Take care of yourself and don't try to overdo it in the first few weeks after your baby's birth.
Great Breastfeeding Help
Ask the doctor if you can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately or soon after delivery, which can improve bonding, suggests O'Connor. Have a partner help you hold the baby skin-to-skin and let the baby try to latch onto your breast. Later, seek help from the nurses in finding a comfortable position for breastfeeding. Use multiple pillows to support your baby, use the football hold or breastfeed lying on your side, suggests the AAP, which adds that painkillers can help you successfully breastfeed your baby. Some of the painkillers you take will pass to your baby through your milk, making her a bit sleepy, but the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risks, says the AAP.
Learn Baby Massage
Baby massage can be a valuable tool in helping you bond with your baby after a cesarean section, says Torsten Klaus, parenting coach and developmental baby massage teacher living in the United Kingdom. This is especially true if you weren't able to hold your baby immediately after birth. Baby massage is a "great way for mothers and fathers to love and nurture their newborn," says Klause, "and to allow time for relaxation after a cesarean section."