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Establishing feeding after a c-section

(22 Posts)
Springforward Sun 14-Apr-13 01:17:18

Hello all, just looking for a bit of support really.

I'm pregnant and it it possible I might need an elective c-section this time.

I'm feeling ok about that, but what do I need to know about getting breastfeeding established afterwards?

DS was breastfed following a tricky start (pethidine-related) so I'm not fazed by the need for support and perseverance, but in practical terms what can I expect?


LackaDAISYcal Sun 14-Apr-13 01:23:06

The only thing that may cause problems is finding a feeding position that doesn't cause pain on your scar, and making sure that until you can get out of bed there is someone on hand to get baby out of their crib if needed.

I successfully BF two of mine after CS and tbh I didn't have any problems, other than the usual getting BFing started troubles like painful nipples, latching issues etc.

Good Luck x

noblegiraffe Sun 14-Apr-13 08:02:57

I've fed two after a section and both have been very mucousy. During vaginal birth mucous is squeezed out of the stomach but with a c-section it's still there. This can make them reluctant to feed as their tummy is full, but they sick it up over the first couple of days (so don't be alarmed by big mucous sicks!)

Both also latched on fine for the first feed and then struggled to latch on for subsequent feeds which was very frustrating - not sure if this was the morphine. Both times I needed to hand-express colostrum into a syringe and feed that way whenever I was struggling so much to latch them on that they hadn't fed for a few hours (don't let baby go more than 3-4 hours without some food). Both latched on fine after a couple of days so it wasn't tongue tie or anything like that.

Pulling yourself up to sitting can really hurt, if you're lucky you might get an electric bed (I didn't!). Pile up pillows behind you and bring one from home too to put on your lap to protect your scar while feeding.

harverina Sun 14-Apr-13 08:44:01

Yes, my dd was very mucousy after my c section which was really alarming initially as we didn't know why she was gagging and then being sick. Once we knew why we were reassured.

Agree that you will need someone to hand you baby unless they are very close in their cot and you are not experiencing pain picking them up. I had no pain on my scar, though Did use a Breastfeeding pillow so maybe that's why (I have big boobs and found using a pillow better.

My dd did not feed until day 4 - thankfully her weight loss was not awful and the midwives on the ward did not panic and suggest formula. I expressed colostrum and fed her with a small cup or syringe roughly every 4 hours, though on hindsight i should probably have done this more (first timer!).

We also had lots of skin to skin cuddles even when she was refusing to feed in the first few days and I put her to the breast lots too. On day 4 she seemed to waken up a little and we didn't look back.

My advice to any new bf mum regardless of birth is to ask for help. Do not be left alone to worry and struggle.

leedy Sun 14-Apr-13 08:58:45

C-sections on both DS - one emergency after a long labour with an OP baby, one a "oh look, lady who has come in for a routine antenatal check, you have raging pre-eclampsia and we need to get you to theatre now". No problems breastfeeding with either but it was definitely less stressful with DS2, partly because I'd done it before and partly because I hadn't been in labour for 24 hours beforehand, so if you're having an elective it'll probably be similar. Agree with the others that the main issue is finding a comfortable position to feed in/pulling yourself up to sitting.

Springforward Sun 14-Apr-13 15:49:25

Thanks all, I'll go buy an L-shaped cushion for the hospital bag, I think.

Ragwort Sun 14-Apr-13 15:54:48

I had an EMCS and found b/feeding quite difficult in the first few days, and have since heard that this can be expected ......... no one explained it at the time and I ended up feeling very guilty and tearful because I couldn't b/f successfully. I wasn't in any pain or discomfort from the op but my baby just couldn't/wouldn't latch on. I wasn't allowed home until DS had put on some weight and eventually my DH had to make a fuss so that we were 'allowed' to give formula. The hospital was militantly pro-breast feeding. I was having to express & the whole experience was pretty horrible.

When we got home (DS was 6 days old) I guess we both relaxed and I happily b/f for six months.

Don't allow yourself to feel bad if you have to give some formula to start with, I think midwives should be much more up front about the side effects of a CS and less bossy.

MsJupiterJones Sun 14-Apr-13 16:35:09

Hi, I had a CS and bf afterwards. My advice would be:

- Ensure you get skin to skin straight away and are given some quiet time in the recovery room for your baby to find the breast and latch on naturally him/herself.

- Ask for help with bf if you need it - I was 'rushed' out of hospital and although I wanted to go home, I should have spoken to the bf counsellor as even then I knew something wasn't quite right.

- Expect additional weight loss in the first 24 hrs. La Leche League recommend getting the baby weighed 24 hrs after the birth and using that as the starting weight, as someone mentioned above CS babies retain a lot of fluid plus it can take a few days for your milk to come in. I had huge amounts of pressure put on me to give formula after day 5 as he had lost more than 10% of his initial (immediate) birth weight. However he probably would have weighed a lot less 24 hrs later.

- However, if you are concerned about slow weight gain or any other issues, don't be fobbed off, speak to a bf counsellor; if you're still not happy, speak to another one. My DS's posterior tongue tie was not diagnosed until 11 wks due to people thinking his fall through the centiles was due to his being born via CS.

- If possible, ask for a bedside cot for both nights you stay in hosp. The second night I was moved to a side room which was nice in theory but DS was in a cot on a separate unit so hard to get him in and out of all night. I'd recommend one for home too if you can. I bought one on eBay about 3am the third night!

- Don't underestimate how sleepy the painkillers can make you - I really struggled to stay awake and have horrible memories of thinking I'd squashed DS in the early days by dozing off in a chair. Looking back I should have asked for help.

- My mum gave me two exercise bands which we tied to the end of the hospital bed and these were really useful for pulling myself up to sit (it still hurt though!)

- Lastly, be assured you can do it! You can try a bit of hand expressing prior to the CS but I never got more than a drop until after the birth, then it came no problem. I ebf until 11 wks and (due to the weight/tt issues) have mixed fed since - 24 wks and still going! Lots of people have different stories, some gave a bit of formula in hosp but then bf, others ebf the whole way. Whatever you decide or need to do, you will do a great job because you have obviously given it a lot of thought and care. Good luck!

sonnyd Sun 14-Apr-13 22:00:05

I second the vote for extra pillows for hospital!
I wasn't able to feed in bed or on our squashy settee for first 5 weeks or so after my elective c section. sitting upright was best for me, got a second hand nursing chair which was a godsend as it got me and baby in exactly right position with no straining/ leaning over.
17months on and I'm still feeding DS.
Good luck xx

Springforward Sun 14-Apr-13 22:06:25

Thank you Jupiter smile and all. Although there's still time for things to resolve, I just want to feel as prepared as I possibly can be.

MammaCici Mon 15-Apr-13 15:52:51

I was just going to pose the same question as the OP. I'm expecting DC2. DS was a vaginal birth but this baby is footling breech so a c-section next week is likely. DS bf until he was 2 years and I was pregnant again and we weaned. People assume that if you've been an extended breastfeeder that you'll automatically know what to do the second time. But there's a world of difference between breastfeeding a newborn and an older infant. I'm concerned about early latch and managing with pain. I had planned on co-sleeping but I didn't think about being drowsey from meds. I guess I'm going to need more help than I realised at first. Interesting to get the heads up on mucous too. I'm going to ask to see a lactation consultant before leaving hospital. I saw one when I had problems when DS was about 6 weeks. I'd like to avoid problems this time! Thanks for the pointers ladies.

princessx Tue 16-Apr-13 14:22:51

I had 2 c sections and no probs whatsoever establishing breast feeding with both.

I think I was lucky as with dc1 they gave me skin to skin the moment she came out. Then she went straight to skin to skin with dh while the op finished, then straight to me to be shown how to breast feed.

Didn't know about the weight issue, as I too got a lot of pressure about the amount of weight she'd lost.

My tip is to ask for skin to skin in advance. Dc2 born in a different hospital that didn't do skin to skin as routine. But I asked doctor and midwife before the op. and check before the op that you will be given the baby to breast feed as soon as possible and there will be someone there to help you.

Good luck!

feekerry Tue 16-Apr-13 20:01:40

another one here who had a emcs and still successfully feeding 13m on.
had no problems whatsoever. the hospital insisted i had immediate skin to skin and only whisked her away v briefly for a quick check and weigh but apart from that had skin to skin constantly after that.
also hospital were happy with us co sleeping so that helped loads

Springforward Tue 16-Apr-13 20:12:02

Stupid question probably, but when you got skin to skin straight away, was that while the surgeon was still closing your wound, or were you able to sit up? Just wondering how it works in practice - with DS they were able to sit me up a bit when I held him, while simultaneously stitching my episiotomy wound!

feekerry Tue 16-Apr-13 21:20:34

i was laid flat with no top on and dd was placed directly on my chest lying down. think i was propped up a bit once stiched up but that takes a reasonable amt of time.
by the time i was wheeled to ward i was sitting up properly. had an electrical bed rest thing that i could adjust with a button. v useful.
also the bed went up and down at touch of a button so i could reach into the cot tho after first night i realised it was much easier just to co sleep!!

harverina Tue 16-Apr-13 21:27:20

My skin to skin was after in recovery but I have subsequently heard that you can ask for skin to skin while being stitched up.

Piemother Tue 16-Apr-13 21:34:58

I had no bf problems with my dds post section. A v pillow was v good though both front and to lie on grin

MsJupiterJones Tue 16-Apr-13 22:22:33

I had skin to skin immediately, they just lifted him into a towel and then he was put on to my chest. After that they took him for weighing & cleaning up and brought him back in a hat & nappy. Definitely worth asking for that immediate contact. I thought my heart would burst with joy.

princessx Tue 16-Apr-13 22:48:38

Yes my skin to skin was while I was being stiched up. I didn't know they were going to do it, and actually the operating table was tilted down a little, so they placed her on my chest but she slowly slid down so I had a naked screaming baby on my neck. They left her there for ages.

With ds it was lovely. He was wrapped in a towel unlike dd but he was on my chest and was crying. I noticed his fingers were blue and cold, so I kissed them to warm them up and he stopped crying when I kissed them. It was lovely,

Best thing you can do is talk it all through with your midwife at one of your antenatal appts so you know what is possible at your hospital.

Beamur Tue 16-Apr-13 22:54:56

I struggled a bit at first, but DD was fine - she tried to feed within moments of being delivered! Sitting up was impossible - I had no idea - but the hospital were good about co-sleeping and were wary, but supportive of giving a little formula when I was struggling to feed her. In the end I found feeding lying down was a good technique for us.
Take it easy and don't try and do too much for the first few weeks.

Giddypants Wed 17-Apr-13 08:23:11

I've had 2 sections, one crash, and one elective 3 weeks ago. Ds1 was in NICU and so I had to express.
DS 2 is a bf pro, we got skin to skin in recovery and while I was still numb I let him forrage around for the nipple, which he found and latched on.
Make sure you have adequet pain relief, you are allowed codeine if you need it (I did) I forgot to bring in my bf pillow but managed with a normal hospital one.
Make sure you get someone to help you with the picking up and putting down. Especially when your getting your feeling back.
But mainly look after yourself, drink plenty and don't stress about the feeding.

Angelico Wed 17-Apr-13 11:13:39

Hi smile I had ELCS. In my hospital you don't get to hang out with baby in the recover room - I held her in the theatre, then once back on ward. She was a 'natural latcher' thankfully and knew what she was doing much better than I did! smile

One thing: the night after the CS (so 2nd night in hospital) I was in really severe pain. Lovely doctor saw I was exhausted and in agony and sent DD to nursery for formula / sleep so I could have a stronger painkiller and a sleeping tablet to get some sleep. MW did the catsbum mouth but those few hours of sleep made me a new woman and did not have any effect at all on my BFing. DD is nearly 7 months and didn't get any more formula until she was just under 6 months. She is still mainly BFing, including expressed milk for crèche (only has formula if she is having a thirsty day at crèche and has drained her bottles) - so if you are really sore and need a few hours off early on don't be worried that you won't be able to feed smile

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