Breastfeeding Tips

Tips for Breastfeeding After a C-section from a Mama Who’s Been There Twice.

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When I got prego I was over the moon. I always had known I wanted to be a mom. I never envisioned major surgery being the way my babies would enter the world. So here I am 33, mom of two superb milky babes that came into the world butt first through my tummy. Breastfeeding after a C-section is totally possible. I did it and so can you! Keep scrolling for my tips at the end!

Mom Life here I come!

Previous to mom life I loved to always be learning something new. Whatever it was, I would dive deep, getting all the info I could. Pinning all the pins and watching all that YouTube could offer.

First baby stuff we ever bought.

I know I can’t be alone here when I say I was dying to make a baby board way before there were any buns even close to the oven. So after a year of trying(totally normal for a first-time pregnancy), I finally got my positive test and it was off to the races.

I learned everything I could about natural birth and breastfeeding. There’s a lot on the topic of natural birth out on the web. Everything from hypnobirthing to how to eat your placenta. I totally watched way too many “what’s in my hospital bag” videos than I care to confess.

Unrealistic expectations

I don’t think I read one single C-section Pin or watched any videos on what to expect if you do end up having a C-section. That was a mistake. I wanted to have the natural, perfect, unmedicated birth of my dreams.

My babe would be born on a bed of rose petals, and begin nursing immediately after doing the breast crawl up my tummy. Too much?! I was damned determined to have a natural birth. I had my photos packed to focus on during contractions and everything.

Our not so relaxing movie night

2 days before first C-section

I’m 38 weeks prego and also convinced me baby will go past his due date. My hubby and I are enjoying a good late night movie session (Boy, I need more of those back in my life) when we paused the movie for a snack break. I’m standing in the kitchen, hovering down a hotdog as my man jokes about our little man coming tomorrow. I say “no way, he’s not ready”! I felt pretty good for being super prego at this moment. No worries at all for me. I was off for a bathroom break so we could get back to movie time. This is when I discovered I was bleeding very heavily.

Up till that point I had experienced a very typical pregnancy. I had not had an ultrasound since 20 weeks because I wasn’t a high-risk pregnancy. I had no idea what could cause that kind of bleeding I just knew that more than a few teaspoons are a big red flag.

Off to the hospital we go

We were both pretty freaked out. Lucky for us it was a 5-minute drive and it was 3 in the morning so no traffic. It was a fairly peaceful night drive to the hospital to see if I was in labor or if something was wrong.

I was examined and reassured that my son was fine but they were going to admit me. I was still in denial when the nurse said “you might have this baby today!’ After a night of mild contractions and not much sleep, they sent in the Ultrasound nurse early that morning.

The ultrasound that changed everything

Doctors told me that my baby’s head down and ready to go at my final appointments. It was all by feel. My babe had us all fooled. When the nurse told me he was breech I could not believe my ears! My hospital did not do breech births. It was not an emergency but I would have to have a C-section that day. The nurse said I was completely thinned out but not very dilated. Usually, the baby’s head will help the dilation process.

I also found out that I have a unicornuate uterus while I was open on the table. Doctor: “Oh, look at that. She has a unicornuate uterus! Someone grab my phone and get a picture. ” I have a what? Unicorn uterus?! Yep. A Bicornuate Uterus is heart-shaped. Mine is half a heart. One horn/half the room. Explains why my babies have no room to turn around.

I planned for a natural birth and had a Cesarian birth.

I didn’t cry when they told me that my unrealistic birth fantasy wasn’t gonna happen. Ya know what I realized? All that mattered was that my sweetheart gets into this world safely. Don’t get me wrong, I was shaking uncontrollably as they wheeled me into the operating room. I was scared to death and my adrenalin was going. The shaking didn’t stop till way after my surgery was over.

My first experience of having a C-section went pretty smoothly. Our baby boy was pulled out and shown to us immediately. He was cleaned up right in the room while we watched. Then I got nauseous from the medicine. This did not surprise me as I have always been sensitive to motion sickness and heavy medication. I was stoked to not get sick again after that one time.

Hello world

A quick tip:

Let the doctors know if your prone to nausea, so they can give you anti-nausea medicine along with extra oxygen. A nurse put an alcohol wipe under my nose for a few minutes after surgery too. It totally worked! I’ve also used a lemon in a similar way after bad jet-lag once.

Recovery the first time around and finally getting to feed my first born

First time holding him!

I waited patiently in my room to get over the shakes after an hour in recovery. I didn’t want my baby in the room until I felt comfortable holding him. The idea of him being so close but me too sick to hold him was a no go for me. You can choose what’s best for you as they will bring in your babe as soon as you give the word.

Once I finally had a sweet boy in my arms it was time to kick everyone out. I was ready to give this breastfeeding thing a go. It’s one of those things that you can read so much about but experiencing it is different. It’s good to go back to info or printouts while you’re in the trenches so to speak.

I just went for it. Turns out his latch wasn’t the best in the beginning but we kept going. It wasn’t till later that night I realized I hadn’t done any skin to skin bonding time. Something so simple but important. So I took off his tiny shirt and tucked him inside my hospital gown. Happy tears flowed.

The power of skin to skin. The rush of oxytocin, the love hormone, is no joke.

I worried about my milk coming in because I didn’t have a traditional birth. Then a lovely nurse explained it to me. The placenta separates from the uterus and your body is signaled to make the good stuff, just like a regular birth.

Peace & Milk

My milk came in just fine and I was like any other mama. I was sore and trying to figure out everything newborn. Especially breastfeeding. I had a hard first month but after that, it was smooth sailing. The root of my troubles was a bad latch. Lots of googling and coconut oil later I healed up and figured out our latch. I’m happy to say we made it to a year and a half!

Another C-section, A new experience

The night before surgery.

Fast forward and I’m about to pop again. My C-sec date is picked one day away from my due date. My little girl is breech like her brother and never turned around so I could try a VBAC.

Gentle c-sections are not offered at my hospital or I might have taken that route. Honestly, I felt kinda out of it on that thin table. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable holding my precious babes like that. Once again do what’s right for you if that’s an option.

I’m armed with the knowledge from my first surgery I was feeling prepared. Getting a catheter put in is awful so I requested they wait till after the spinal this time! The doctors were aware of my nausea. Round 2! Baby #2! That’s when things went a bit differently than I expected.

Our girl was taken away immediately. We knew something was up. They had to rush out to make sure her airways were clear of meconium(first poo). They worked hard squeezing her out. It can be deadly if they breathe it in.

We were terrified. I’ve never felt so scared and vulnerable. My stomach dropped and we took some deep breaths together as we waited. My husband says it was the best moment of his life when they brought her back.

I had made it through surgery without getting sick. Once I got to my room and was able to eat, but I couldn’t keep anything down for a bit. I actually felt worse after the planned one. My stomach had been empty longer making me feel worse in the long run. I just had to wait it out.

Lastly, this girl came out the womb ready to be a breastfeeding pro! When they held her up to my face for the first time, she snuggled up and begin to suckle on my cheek. All the nurses had a giggle about it. β€œLook at her go, she’s gonna have no problem nursing!”

First cuddles!

Breastfeeding after C-sec take 2

That whole take care of yourself first mantra is tricky after a c-section. I did this by patiently waiting to feel better and not rush it. One of the biggest tips you see is to feed as soon as possible. For me, I knew that wasn’t exactly the best. I could have had her in there sooner but I needed to take care of me first.

Once, I was feeling better I was ready to jump in. I didn’t forget the skin to skin this time. She was tucked in my gown in almost every picture from that first day.

Skin to skin is a must.

My mantra was β€œDon’t latch till her mouth is as wide as possible!”. This was a mistake I made with my son. His mouth would open just a smidge, not nearly enough to get a good latch.

I had my latch techie down for miss. I obviously had practice with the first. The latch is so important! I can’t stress it enough! Here are all my tips for achieving a brilliant latch with your newborn!

I was prepared for all the cluster feeding this time. Everyone talks about cluster feeding later in a babies life, but boy do they cluster feed like crazy the first 3 days. It was extra uncomfortable the first night with the iv, catheter, and things on your legs to keep circulation going.

First Latch.

After a full night of cluster feeding, I was absolutely exhausted. This is when I let my babe go chill with the nurses while I slept. I had my surgery less than 24 hours ago and had successfully kicked off my breastfeeding adventure! Soreness continued for about a week and I felt great after that. I had a much rougher start with my son.

I want to see other succeed! Here are my best tips for c-section mamas.

My Tips for Breastfeeding after a C-section surgery

  • Nurse often and lots of skin to skin. This goes for all moms who want to breastfeed but it’s especially important for C-Sec moms
  • Lots of people recommend football hold for C-Sec babes but I love classic cradle with my sweet pea up across my chest, off my stomach.
  • Ask for a breastfeeding hospital gown!
  • Don’t stress about milk coming in. They will get colostrum first. Newborn tummies are tiny. They don’t need a lot at each session. That’s why you have to have frequent feeds.
  • Use blankets and pillows to prop your pumpkin up. I’m a BIG fan of using blankets when nursing. Click here to read more.
  • Find the right angle of recline for your bed. Recline to take the pressure off your tummy as much as you need.
  • Stay on top of your medication. Seriously. Baby will still be able to breastfeed.
  • Pineapple juice! Great for inflammation. Perfect for a nursing, C-sec mama. Here’s the original post. I packed cans in both my hospital bags.
  • Work around that pesky iv by having baby rest their head further up your arm. You can also put the extra long tube up behind your head

In conclusion

Breastfeeding a newborn after major surgery is possible. I’m living proof and I wasn’t the first or the last to succeed. You can do it too! Don’t let anyone stop you from having a kick-ass breastfeeding journey.

It is scary, but what a beautiful sacrifice. I would do it a hundred times more to have my babies. Hope this helps some mamas out! Have any questions? Got any other tips? Drop them below!

Till next time happy nursing!

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