Breastfeeding After Your C-Section

New mother learning to breastfeed lactation consultant

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Breastfeeding after a c-section is absolutely possible. Though sometimes you may find that there are barriers that prevent you from getting breastfeeding off to a good start or you may have issues that are related to your surgery. Here are some tips to help you with breastfeeding after you've had a c-section:

Don't Avoid Medications

After you've had a c-section, you may be concerned with the medications that you are taking for pain. These medications are compatible with breastfeeding, though it is important that you tell your practitioner and the baby's doctor that you are breastfeeding. This will ensure that they are able to give you the right medication and dose to help you cope with post-surgical pain.

Skipping doses of your medication can actually cause you to need more medication later as you try to catch up with the pain.

Talk to your doctor and nurses about how to wean off narcotic-based medications when appropriate, and on to medications that are less likely to cause you to feel groggy.

Breastfeed Early

This is usually one of your first physical contacts with your baby after he or she is born. In some hospitals this can happen in the operating room, in others, it happens in the recovery room. In an ideal situation, this should occur within the first hour after birth. One nice thing is that if you do it at this point, you are less likely to be in pain from your incision due to the fact that your epidural or spinal has not worn off yet. It also is what is recommended for all babies to help them learn to nurse well. If for some reason, you and your baby are separated, ask ​for a breast pump and begin pumping every 3-4 hours until you and your baby are reunited.

Get Support

While you are still in the hospital, ask to see the lactation consultant. She can help you assess how breastfeeding is going, even if there are no problems. This is also a time to ask about potential issues that may arise or just ease any fears that you have about breastfeeding, whether they are related to your c-section or not.

Find a Good Position to Breastfeed

Finding a good position to breastfeed is important after a c-section. Your incision is likely to be very tender. This can make positions like the cradle hold and the cross-cradle a bit difficult in the first few days.

Many mothers find that the football hold is a great way to breastfeed until your abdomen feels better.

Keep Your Baby Nearby

Having your baby room in with you is a good way to ensure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start. You will want to have someone stay with you if possible. This will be helpful in helping you maneuver around the room and to get things you need. More importantly, it teaches you what your baby's feeding cues are and how to respond. It also shortens the time to calm your hungry baby. If your baby is in your room your milk will come in sooner and it can also help prevent sore nipples.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Breastfeeding After Cesarean Birth. La Leche League International. 2009.
  • Mohrbacher, N, Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book. 2003.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.