Note: This post is written as my youngest is almost 14 weeks old. It will most likely have grammatical mistakes and be overall vague in descriptions but I feel it’s important to share what I experienced to help encourage any other mother who may be facing a c-section that wants to succeed at breastfeeding in the aftermath.
It became clear to me by early February that my third full-term pregnancy was not going to be a natural, vaginal delivery as I had thought it would. My denial of the situation was eroded by the fact that my abdomen was swelling with more water than is normal. The baby was in breech, my womb is bicornuate (essentially heart-shaped), there was scar tissue further holding the baby’s head and I now was diagnosed with hydroaminos. I had pre-term contractions that were becoming stronger and threatening the baby’s heart rate at times–the risk became great that spontaneous labor onset could jeopardize life.
Google Check: Feeding Newborn After Cesarean
Once my doctors had arranged for the c-section date, I began to search the internet for articles and any social messaging concerning breastfeeding after the surgical procedure. Unfortunately most medical sites offered cold, technical facts that weaved a discouraging web: revelations like the mother may be too tired or in pain to feed right away, the drugs used may make baby too drowsy to feed and so on made me catch my breath with dread. Thankfully other sites and messaging boards offered the hope that if the mother was determined in her will to feed her baby then she would rebound after surgery and be able to breastfeed accordingly.
Hospital Bag Check: Pack Liquids and Food
A close friend of mine assisted me in packing my bag for the hospital stay since I was looking at a longer tenure there than I was used to because of the surgery. My advice to any mom who knows she is going in for a c-section is to pack a bag full of snacks (especially those with fiber) , bottled water of choice and liquids. In addition, I packed mother’s tea (a.k.a. mother’s milk) and liquid herbs used for the promotion of lactation and easing of post-birth pain (check http://www.mountainmeadowherbs.com).
Get In The Game: Mental Mind-works
I had a wonderful nurse attending me the morning of my daughter’s birth who noticed when I had a moment about ten minutes before the time I was supposed be in the operating room. As my heart began racing on the monitors and my eyes were welling up with tears, the nurse came up into my face and told me to think of this as my races (competitive runner). I had to get my mind into the game, she told me in so many words. It was the last time I had anxiety, I willed myself to be calm and just do what I needed to do to get myself and my baby out alive. You cannot control the type of birth you are having but you do control what type of nurturing mother you will be afterwards–you must make your will determine to feed your child yourself.
Post-Cesaeran: Touch, Taste, Drink and Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow
Once you are back in the recovery area after surgery have the nurses or your loved ones bring you the baby and get skin-on-skin contact with him or her. Whether or not the baby latches on right away isn’t as important as it is to give the baby to try through its senses to get acquainted with its mother, namely you.
As for us mothers, after that first hour post-surgery passes you must try to make yourself drink lots of bottled water and mother milk tea. After about 6 hours or so you can start some of the liquid herb drops in your water and start eating as you can or instructed by your physician. I cannot stress the importance of having your own snacks as through the night most hospitals don’t have anything available but water, juice and crackers/pretzels. I believe having bottled water is better than tap water at a hospital.
ASAP: Get Up and Move
As the nurses will assist and attest, those mothers who get up and moving after a c-section as early and often as possible will heal faster. This doesn’t mean you are to strain yourself and render harm of course but it does mean you should not remain bedridden once they remove the catheter and such.
Pain: No Milk Gain
I found what balance worked for me in the c-section aftermath regarding pain-relief drugs. In the first 24 hours I took the strong stuff but then weaned off to the booster ibuprofen and supplemented with my mother-friendly post-birth pain relief herbal drops in my water. In the weeks afterwards I would take a strong pill maybe 2 or 3 times if I had a bad day–the goal was to not rely too much on drugs but also not to suffer in pain because that could affect milk coming in especially in the early days.
Relax: Fall In Love
In the end, mother does know best–just try your best to relax and get to know your little one through holding and such. Your love for your baby will also help you provide what is needed. In my case I was grateful for the blessing of hearing one of the nurses tell me that my daughter had spit up on her and other attendants helping to take her for a test. “Your milk came in!” she exclaimed to me as we went through the discharge papers.