Your baby spends 9 comfortable months growing inside your womb. Meanwhile you prepare for delivery. Delivery looks different for everyone, every single time. In 2021 in the United States, there were 3,661,401 births! About 67.9% of those were vaginal births and 32.1% of them were cesarean deliveries. No matter how your baby is delivered, your baby is earth side!1
Due to the delivery method, babies born by cesarean section are not exposed to the beneficial microbes that they would typically be exposed to during a vaginal birth. These microbes help your baby’s microbiome (gut health) to develop, which helps with digestion and immune system support. So, what to do if you’re worried about your baby missing out on microbes? Never fear – there is a way to introduce these microbes to support the gut – breastfeeding, plus a probiotic that works with breastmilk! Helpful hint: Evivo, an infant probiotic, was created specifically to work together with breast milk to deliver good bacteria to your baby’s gut. Making a probiotic part of your feeding routine from day one is a great way to get your baby off to a great start.
The task of breastfeeding alone can be tedious, but breastfeeding after a cesarean section has added obstacles. Here are some ways that you can empower yourself when breastfeeding after a cesarean section.
- Do skin-to-skin as soon as possible. Once medically permitted for both you and baby, it is a great time to do skin-to-skin. If you are unable to do skin-to-skin right away, that is ok! Your baby can do this with your partner or support person as well. Plus the benefits continue for time to come!
- Learn hand expression. Learning hand expression prenatally helps to give you confidence in your body! Your body has been creating milk since your 2nd trimester. Once you are close to your due date (and you have been cleared by your provider) you can begin to practice! Anything you get can be saved to use once your baby has arrived. When your baby arrives, hand expressing for a few minutes after can also help build a great base for your milk supply/production.
- Baby feeding support from a lactation professional. Lactation professionals such as SimpliFed can begin to help you in pregnancy! Here, you can learn about the process of your body making milk and what to expect in the first few weeks. They can also assist with latching concerns, milk supply concerns, and even supplementing if need be once your baby has arrived! Also good news – under federal law – they are required to be covered by your insurance at no cost to you.
- Learn reverse pressure softening. Due to IV fluids given to you during the cesarean section, as well as the transition from colostrum milk to transitional milk, your breasts can begin to feel very full and swollen. This can cause difficulty for your baby to latch. By learning reverse pressure softening, you can move some of that swelling towards your chest wall making the breast tissue located around the nipple and areola easier to latch onto.
- Understand that your baby’s weight may fluctuate! Regardless of delivery method, your baby may lose a small amount of weight in the first 24 hours of life. This can be exacerbated by the IV fluids received during labor and delivery. No worries though! Your care team will be prepared for that weight loss and ensure that it does not exceed 10% of their birth weight.
- Find a breastfeeding position comfortable for you. Cesarean section is major abdominal surgery. It can be difficult to find a comfortable position. Ask for help getting into position, use as many pillows as you need, and take it slow when you are moving and adjusting. *Pro-tip: try rolling to your side with knees bent and then use your arms to push upright, slowly lowering your feet when getting up.*
Learn more breastfeeding tips on SimpliFed.
1 Distribution of vaginal and cesarean deliveries: United States, 2021. (2022, January). March of Dimes | PeriStats. https://www.marchofdimes.org/peristats/data?reg=99&top=8&stop=200&lev=1&slev=1&obj=3