Breastfeeding Tips After A Cesarean Delivery
I’m sure you’ve already been warned that breastfeeding is no picnic the first few weeks!
Don’t let that discourage you, there are so many wonderful things about breastfeeding that make it all worth it in the end!
And I promise you, it will get easier, you just have to get through the first few weeks!
Breastfeeding after a vaginal delivery is also difficult, however, breastfeeding after a c-section is a whole new ballgame!
Your stomach muscles don’t work properly and it makes picking up your baby very hard!
It came as such a shock to me so I’m here to warn those moms that are having a scheduled c-section (or already had a c-section) what will help them get through this important stage in their life.
Breastfeeding can be even more difficult if you aren’t prepared and have the support from family!
Here are some common issues that women suffer from breastfeeding after a c-section and ways to help them breastfeed successfully!
These tips will help you breastfeed after your c-section and get you through the first few weeks with your newborn!
You are Exhausted!
No matter what type of delivery you have, you will be exhausted and one of the worst parts about having a baby is that you need to rest but there’s hardly any rest time!
You are so excited because you just had a baby so it’s hard to sleep!
Even if you can sleep, you are woken up by nurses coming in to check on you and take your vital signs every so often and then there’s the constant nursing!
C-Section babies tend to sleep more right after delivery mostly due to the anesthesia from the c-section. This can be good and bad because you want to get some rest yourself but you’ll also want your milk to come in as soon as possible.
Let me just warn you now, there’s no such thing as resting after your delivery!
And it’s crazy because you just had a major stomach surgery!! Major!
Most people should rest, right?
Nope…not new moms and you’ll see it’s just the beginning of not sleeping for a while!
I believe being exhausted is the hardest part about breastfeeding after a c-section, you are just so wiped out and the minute you do fall asleep, it’s time to nurse again!
Just keep breastfeeding your baby or laying her/him near your breast to sleep as much as you can. Also, squeeze some naps in if possible! You will be so happy your baby is here that you might forget all about the exhaustion.
Being prepared beforehand and knowing you’ll be super tired makes it a bit easier.
That’s me and my husband holding our daughter in the lovely picture below. I’m trying to smile but I’m totally out of it and can’t believe I just went through 46 hours of labor and then had to have an emergency c-section!
Talk To Your Doctors About Your Plan To Breastfeed
It’s important to let your doctors and delivery team know that you plan on breastfeeding before you have the baby. That way, just in case something doesn’t go as planned or the baby has to go to the NICU for some unknown reason, they won’t give him/her formula.
If your baby is in the NICU it does making breastfeeding harder (believe me, I’ve been there) but just keep going down to the NICU every two hours to nurse if you are able to, depending on your situation.
For more tips on breastfeeding a NICU baby, click here!
When you aren’t with your baby, pump every chance you get so that you are able to give your baby the colostrum or any milk that comes in to help make your baby healthy and strong and hopefully get them out of the NICU!
Everything is different
The thing about c-section deliveries and vaginal deliveries is that recovery is different and can take much longer.
Most women that have vaginal deliveries are normally out of the hospital the following day. Cesarean deliveries can get complicated and can take the mother anywhere from 3 days up to a week until they are able to leave the hospital.
If there’s any sort of complications to make us have the c-section in the first place, then we could be there for at least a week if not more.
We aren’t able to move around right away and we just had major abdominal surgery. Those women that argue that we took the easy way out never had a c-section themselves so ignore them! I believe any delivery is painful no matter which way the baby comes out of your body!
You are in pain everywhere!
Okay, so after a c-section….especially after the first c-section you ever have (because I will tell you right now, if you have a second or third c-section, you muscles are used to it and the entire process heals quicker but the first c-section is a BI%$H) you will be sore all over your stomach area!
Things will be even more painful if you were in labor and pushed for several hours like myself, then you’ll have all kinds of pain all over the place! 😳
For the most part, while you are still in the hospital, the doctors will give you pain relievers to help you manage.
I personally hated the strong pain relievers because I had a hard time breastfeeding and I am super sensitive to medicine. For my first c-section, I was given strong pain relievers after the surgery but I was so nauseous from it and then got incredibly itchy! This was awful because when I should have been resting, I couldn’t because the drugs made me so itchy and uncomfortable!
If you know you are this sensitive to meds and are about to have a c-section, let the doctors know this so your recovery won’t be as bad as mine!
On top of feeling drugged up and itchy, I was supposed to learn how to breastfeed my new baby?
I couldn’t even see straight and was completely exhausted after 46 hours of labor!!!
However, I stuck it out with the help of my husband and a lactation consultant.
You have to learn how to stand up and move your body around again and nurse a newborn every 2 hours or less. It’s crazy and you will need help from the nurses or your husband to bring the baby to you especially the first few hours after your c-section.
Just be prepared for the pain afterwards because you’ll see you can’t quite hold your baby or move the way you normally could before.
Once the pain meds wear off and you are home nursing, the pain will hit you everywhere…boobs, stomach, and all!
Keep reading to learn about how to handle the pain while breastfeeding!
Pumping after a c-section
If your milk hasn’t come in yet, start pumping!
The hospital should provide you with a really good hospital grade breast pump to use while you are there. Pump as much as you can when you aren’t holding the baby or they are asleep.
This should help your breasts get things moving!
Every hospital and lactation consultant may offer different advice about pumping after a c-section so always talk to your lactation consultant first for advice.
The nurses in my hospital told me to pump whenever I could to help get my milk flowing and it helped a lot for me!
Below are some of the best breast pumps on there market, click the photos for more info:
Find out more about the pumping essentials you need here:
Bring a nursing pillow with you to the hospital
I did not do this with my first because I had no clue what I was doing.
Yes, they have pillows there but trust me, you’ll want that boppy pillow or a great nursing support pillow there to help you the first couple days in the hospital.
The hospital bed is a plus because all you have to do is push those side buttons to move you up into a sitting position so it makes it easy when someone brings you the baby to nurse. (Remember…you will not have this once you get home so prepare yourself for that!)
The lactation consultants can help teach you how to nurse and show you different positions for the baby.
I was never a fan of the football hold position even though they all tried that with my babies but it was uncomfortable for me.
Do what works for you and your little one!
Try a few breastfeeding positions and see which one works best! Every baby and mother are different!
A good nursing support pillow is a MUST after a c-section. You need to keep that scar protected while nursing and this is the best way possible!
Those babies can kick you sometimes and even weeks after you will still be in pain (not as much) but babies will continue to kick at times and you’ll be so thankful for the support pillow! 🙂
Walking after a C-Section
I remember the first time I stood up after my first c-section…..I may have actually cursed out loud to the nurses because in theory you think it will be easy….but then you try to lift yourself up and you feel like you’re 95 or have been hit by a damn bus!!! 😳
Not even kidding!
Oh…and there’s also blood…like a lot of blood!
Thankfully my husband was passed out in the chair next to me when they first got me up because I had no idea what was about to happen.
Remember, you couldn’t feel anything from the waist down for a few hours so you don’t realize what was going on down there! I also didn’t think there would be period like blood coming out of me since I didn’t have a vaginal delivery, but believe me, there will be.
Just some things I thought you should be aware of because no one warned me about this stuff!
The first time you stand up and the nurses help you shower and clean yourself off, it will be hard but eventually gets much easier.
Make sure to walk as much as you can and every chance you get. You will be super tired and think it’s impossible but the more you move your body, the more your blood will flow and things will get easier.
When Does The Colostrum Come In After A C-section?
Many moms ask about this and wonder when colostrum comes in since their milk hasn’t showed up yet. Don’t worry mamas, colostrum is actually produced in a mother’s body during mid-pregnancy. It keeps producing a few days after pregnancy so your baby will have this as soon as you deliver him/her! (source)
How to Increase Breast Milk After a C-section
Oh yes, another perk of having a c-section is that your milk might take a few days longer to produce than when having a vaginal delivery. Exactly how many days will it take until your milk comes in? For most c-section moms, it can take an average of 2-3 days. (source)
It’s okay, your milk will come in and you are still able to give the baby the colostrum that you produce! Trust me, I know waiting for your milk to come in can be very stressful on top of everything else your body is going through.
If this is your second or third baby, your milk should come in faster. The first baby always takes the longest so be patient.
Short personal story here:
I actually had a lactation consultant try and talk me into supplementing my newborn with formula because my didn’t come in on the second day after I had my fourth baby. Yes, this was my fourth baby, so I kinda knew a thing or two already! I breastfed all my babies, I told her my milk normally comes in the third day and to please stop giving me a hard time. She was actually stressing me out more! The nurses had to tell her to stop coming in to see me because I knew what I was doing! And guess what happened the third day? My milk came in, just like I said it would! So be patient mamas, it will come in. Every mother’s body is different! Also, all the other lactation consultants I’ve had previously were a godsend, this one was just not the norm!
Here are tips to increase your breast milk after a c-section.
Keep putting the baby to your breast every chance you can, this will help your milk come in. Do not be discouraged that you aren’t producing a lot of milk right away, this is completely NORMAL!!
Some hospitals may recommend you supplement if you are feeling discouraged but try your best not to just yet because your milk will come in a few days.
You can also take a fenugreek supplement or start drinking a lactation tea to help boost your milk supply and get things moving!
Here are a few favorites that work great below!
Breastfeeding after a c-section medication
Many moms are worried about the c-section medication they receive and if they can still breastfeed their baby after their delivery. Yes, you can still breastfeed your baby! The anesthesia and the pain medications that are given to you during surgery should not affect your baby while breastfeeding. (source)
Make sure you stay on top of your pain meds. Your nurses will help you with this while you are still in the hospital!
I didn’t take anything stronger than motrin or advil for my pain because I was breastfeeding and I didn’t want to be more tired and out of it than I already was!
You will absolutely notice the second the ibuprofen wears off! So make sure you take this every 5-6 hours as needed when you are home.
You will have this pain for a week, if not more. It all depends on your surgery and body type. Stock up on this before you have the baby because you’ll most likely need it for any type of delivery you have!
Be sure to get the gel caps, they work faster.
If you’re looking for a more natural medication that may be safer to breastfeed with, ask you doctor about Arnicare. For more information, click the photo below:
Support Pillows for your bed at home
Nursing your newborn in the hospital after a c-section is much easier than at home because you have that hospital bed that helps you move up to a sitting position with one click! You also have plenty of nurses there to help assist you with the baby and pick her up and hand her to you.
Once you get home, this will NOT be the case! And if you’re unlucky like me, your husband/significant other will have to go right back to work and leave you to handle it all alone!!
The hardest part about nursing after a c-section is lifting the baby up so many times at night from a bed that is flat!
Here are a few things that can help you tremendously to lift that baby quickly into a nursing position whether your SO is asleep next to you or works at night!
I was not able to nurse laying on my side after my first c-section.
Laying down in bed and nursing your newborn to sleep is the easiest way for both you and baby to get sleep and it is most relaxing, in my opinion. However, after my first c-section I physically was not capable to turn on my side.
Yes, I know it sounds weird, but my muscles were not able of twisting my body that way. It was super difficult so the ONLY way I could breastfeed after my first c-section was sitting up in a propped up position.
This is fine during the day but when you are exhausted at night, it stinks because you have to struggle to sit up in that position. It’s hard to explain but I’m sure if you just had a c-section and are reading this, then you know the struggle I’m talking about!
So what worked for me?
My husband went out and got me this support pillow that allowed me to sleep and yet still sit up easily into a position that I could nurse (without having to buy a reclining bed!).
However, I DID NOT need this with my second c-section!
My doctor told me it was because my stomach muscles were used to the surgery at that point so I was able to lay down and nurse my second daughter with no issues.
Anyway, if it is your first c-section and you are having problems laying down nursing, then I recommend getting one of the pillows below to help you sit up and/or sleep on during the night!
It will make it easier for you to pick up the baby at night or just get yourself out of bed to pee without assistance!
You can click the photo below or here for more information.
Get a Co-Sleeper!!
This is an absolute must for breast-feeding mothers after a c-section!
There are so many co-sleepers to choose from today. Even if you are dead set on having your baby sleep in their crib in their room, don’t even consider that the few weeks after delivery.
This is why…
You will be breastfeeding all night long and sitting up and lifting the baby alone will be such a challenge you’ll have to deal with first.
The crib can come later, right now focus on trying to nurse your baby successfully at night.
There are Doc-A-Tots that are inserts you place right into the bed with you and bassinet type of co-sleepers. The inserts you place in the bed are nice but they won’t last you long.
If you get a co-sleeper bassinet, some of them double as a pack-n-play so you’ll really get your money’s worth and all you will have to do is shimmy or slide the baby over to you.
The last thing you want is something that you will have to LIFT a baby out of!
For more tips on lifting and the do’s and don’ts after a c-section delivery, click here!
Lifting is almost impossible after a c-section so do whatever you can to not have to lift your baby to breastfeed them.
Here are some great examples of co-sleepers below. Click on the photos for more info!
Remember how I mentioned pain everywhere?
Well once you are home and your milk finally does come in and your baby is trying to nurse for the first time, not only will your scar and stomach hurt but so will your boobs!!!
If your baby isn’t latched on properly (which most babies have trouble with in the beginning) your nipples will hurt BAD!
The best advice I can give to any breastfeeding mother, especially those that are having c-sections and already have pain in a million different places, is to buy yourself a nipple shield!
Talk to your lactation consultant first because she may be able to help you so your don’t need it. To learn more about the pros and cons of using a nipple shield to see if it’s right for you, click the photo below.
I have told me close friends that just to be safe, buy a nipple shield ahead of time if you plan to breastfeed! Always get yourself one that is a size bigger than you think you are just in case.
The last thing you want is the hubby running out and buying you the wrong thing! LOL
A nipple shield can be a miracle worker and can ease the nipple pain from the baby not latching properly. It also teaches the baby to open his/her mouth wide enough so they learn how to latch properly.
You should be able to remove the shield in a few weeks without any problems as long as you use it for short periods of time. . Buy a couple if you can and be sure to sanitize it as much as possible.
I had so many breastfeeding issues and even bleeding nipples with my second baby!
Just when you think you’re in enough pain after the surgery, breastfeeding pain takes it to a whole other level!
Hang in there and remember, this will get easier! To read more about why a nipple shield was the best breastfeeding tip I ever got, click here!
Also, be sure to get yourself some awesome nipple cream!
I used Earth Mama organic nipple butter and it was all natural and worked like magic.
Cover up that scar
It’s no picnic breastfeeding after a c-section and that baby will kick you!
Yes- they love kicking and it hurts!
Buying yourself a belly wrap will help cover up your scar from the baby bumping it or kicking you, help your muscles heal and go back to where they should, and also make you feel more comfortable.
After you have a c-section, you almost feel like your insides are falling out!
Yes, that sounds crazy and they are not at all, but it’s hard to explain, you just need extra support to hold it all together and put it back together!
These belly wraps are a god-send for c-section mommas and help making breastfeeding easier and more comfortable!
Vitamins after a c-section
Make sure you continue to take your prenatal vitamins after your c-section especially if you are breastfeeding! These will help boost your energy and immune system which is what you need when you are breastfeeding!
Drink a ton of water as well which will help keep up your milk supply and be sure to eat healthy!
Watch out for too much dairy which can make many babies colicky/gassy and that’s the last thing you need the first few weeks after giving birth! (Trust me..I learned this the hard way 😩)
Purchase a great multi-vitamin that will help you and the baby get all the nutrients you need all while losing all those toxins from the anesthesia or antibiotics from the surgery.
Here are some great prenatal vitamins that I personally love and took myself during and after my pregnancies.
Here are some omega 3’s that I also took during my pregnancies and postnatal.
I hope this information was able to help some of you breastfeed after having a c-section!
Haven’t had your c-section yet? click the photo below!
Remember to hang in there and everything will get so much easier, just give it time!
For more information and tips on c-section recovery, click here!
For secrets and tips for first-time moms on breastfeeding, click here! 😊
If you have toddlers at home, you may also be interested in this post:
Need More Breastfeeding Help?
If you need more help and would like step by step information on how to breastfeed your baby with The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class!
This is an affordable 90 min breastfeeding class video that is perfect for new moms! I honestly wish they had something like this when I first breastfed my daughter.
You can learn more about The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class Here! 👇
Wondering what to wear after a c-section?
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I love my nursing pillows. I had two c-sections and breastfeeding or holding the baby was pretty painful. However it is possible!! Your post is full of great resources for new mamas! Thanks for sharing and being so helpful.
Yes, just holding the baby or picking them up can be painful! I loved my nursing pillows too! Thanks for the comment, so happy to help! 😊
I was unable to mollify my baby‘s need because of c section. Thanks for sharing this.It’s really worked. I never struggled with supply issues, it really helped me to boost up my milk supply.
Hi Geneva! So happy this helped you! 🙂
I’ve had three c-sections and your advice seemed spot on! Nipple shields didn’t work for me but I had a whole host of supply issues with my first. Nipple cream was a lifesaver for my second and third baby.
Hi Rachel! Yes, I couldn’t agree more! I couldn’t live without my nipple creams! 🙂
Hi Rachel, how far apart were your C-sections, I’m getting prepared for my third one and it’s been 11yrs since my last C-section, and I’m nervous all over again
Hi Tyjuan, I also had three c-sections and the farthest apart of each was three years. I will tell you that with each c-section, I recovered much quicker than the one before it! I was also very nervous for each one like it was the first time! Hopefully, this recovery will be faster for you this time around! Lots of prayers sent your way!
Hi dear, great post and very informative tips! Wish I had found this when I had my daughter.
Thanks so much! Yes, I wish I had this information after my first daughter as well!
What settings should I use to pump after the c section to get the milk coming in? Letdown mode only or also expression mode even if not yet full?
I would start with letdown mode for a little while and see if that setting works better to help your milk come in. Every pump is different, ask your lactation consultant for help if you have one, they can help you adjust the settings on your pump. Good luck, mama!