The impact of c-sections on breastfeeding is a highly debated topic. As pregnancy experts are on a rise, there are more half-truths doing the rounds about the adverse effects of a c-section on breastfeeding. It is believed that cesarean section will have a negative impact on breastfeeding initiation and duration. Even though studies examining the association between c-section and breastfeeding are inconsistent, many women, from their experience, agree that c-section affects breastfeeding. Let’s get the facts straight based on various studies.
C-Section Delays Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding within the first hour of post-delivery is considered very important. Women who deliver by c-section are less likely to breastfeed immediately. Delay in breastfeeding initiation will have adverse effects on newborn’s suckling ability and it will decrease infant receptivity. According to a research, the onset of lactation gets delayed in mothers that delivered via c-section compared to those that delivered vaginally.
However, many hospitals now encourage mothers to breastfeed after a c-section, which helps them avoid all these issues. It is found that c-section delivery will not have any negative impact on breastfeeding duration if women initiated breastfeeding soon after birth and maintained breastfeeding for at least four weeks postpartum.
C-Section Affects Milk Supply
Milk production might get delayed in women who delivered via a c-section. Without breastfeeding initiation and skin-to-skin contact, the milk may not be produced as in the case of a vaginal delivery. The stress of surgery may also contribute to it.
In case of a planned c-section, physiological reasons might also be responsible for the decreased milk supply. Because planned c-sections are performed prior to the onset of labor and before 40 weeks gestation. Her body may not be prepared for it.
C-Section Reduces Baby-Mom Bonding
As the mom recovers from a c-section, immediate skin-to-skin contact with the baby may not happen. Postoperative care routines after a cesarean delivery interrupt mom-baby bonding. The delay in breastfeeding initiation accompanying c-section delivery is also associated with mom-baby separation, which, in turn, affects their milk supply.
C-Section Makes Feeding Difficult
Women delivered via c-section are found to have more problems with latching, positioning, and more pain when compared to those women with vaginal birth. Studies have found that women who had emergency c-section go through a higher proportion of breastfeeding difficulties and used more resources before and after leaving the hospital when compared to vaginal delivery or planned c-sections. As some medical emergencies led to their c-section, doctors may focus on aftercare than promoting breastfeeding. A few research also point out that women who had an emergency c-section are more likely to have had an unsuccessful first breastfeeding attempt.
Also, finding a comfortable breastfeeding position will be challenging. Because they need to choose a position which puts the least pressure on their incision. Side-lying position, football hold, and cradle hold are some of the comfortable positions for mothers. They will have to comfort the incision by placing a pillow or using a belly band.
Women Stop Breastfeeding Early
An early cessation of breastfeeding during the postpartum period has been observed among women who had c-section. One reason might be the maternal and fetal stress. They also may not go for exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months.
Making Breastfeeding Easy For C-Section Women
Women who have delivered via emergency c-section or planned c-section require more supportive care after their delivery. They will have a hard time moving after surgery and it will be difficult for a new mom to cope with breastfeeding challenges. Providing them the required help may make things better for them.
Moreover, giving them access to lactation consultation will also be a good move. Thus, we could promote immediate breastfeeding after the c-section. Ensuring successful breastfeeding within the first 24 hours will guarantee long-term breastfeeding success, irrespective of mode of delivery.
Nursing their babies frequently will also help them keep milk supply on track. Encourage them to pump if they are unable to nurse their baby because of postoperative recovery.