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Feeding Baby After C-Section



You may have scheduled your cesarean birth or the surgery will come as a surprise. Here are a few things you should know about feeding your baby while you recover.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 32% of all deliveries in the United States in 2016 were Cesarean. Twenty years before, only one in 5 births were c-section. While it is not uncommon for women to schedule their child's delivery, there are still many questions that mothers have while they are recovering. One topic is on newborn feeding.

It is still possible for new mothers to nursing right away, but formula is also an option. It is important to be informed on your decision so that your wishes can be carried out the moment your baby comes into your arms.


Breastfeeding Baby After C-Section

If you want to breastfeed your baby, you want to be able to do it right away. This gives your baby the nutrition like colostrum that benefits your baby's immune system. One of the concerns about feeding a baby after a C-section is the medications that are in the mother's system from the surgery. This could be the epidural, painkillers, or antibiotics from the IVs or pills that you take.

When it comes to the epidural, it is a regional anesthetic. That means that it will not affect your breast milk. As for the painkillers and antibiotics, they have been chosen with nursing mothers in mind. Even if it affects your breast milk, it will not harm your baby. A side effect may be that your baby will be sleepy, but your pediatrician can monitor this in the follow-up exam within the first few days after birth. As a new mother, the painkillers will make your more comfortable. When you are relaxed, you can breastfeed easier. The more you nurse, the more milk production you will stimulate.


Breastfeeding and Formula-Feeding After C-Section

You want the best nutrition for your baby, but you also have to worry about your health and what goes into your breast milk. You may also not be able to hold your baby right away. If your little one is a preemie in the NICU and you are still in recovery, there are a number of variables to consider.

Some mothers who are on IV meds for severe preeclampsia are separated from their babies in the immediate postpartum period. If you cannot get to your baby in the nursery for feeding, you can always express your milk. Then it can be delivered to your baby in the NICU for feeding time. Medication such as magnesium sulfate used for women with preeclampsia is not seen to impact milk supply, but it may delay your infant's ability to breastfeed.

Pumping breast milk will still give your baby the nutrition you want. A combination of infant formula and breast milk will still give your little one the nutrients that will help them thrive. You can pump until you are able to reunite with your baby to work on latching and nursing exclusively, or you can continue to supplement with infant formula.


Formula-Feeding After C-Section

Women who have a c-section can also choose to formula-feed exclusively. Not only does it allow them to focus on recovery, but it also takes way the stress of nursing. Some mothers feel tense when the baby will not latch, have concerns with milk production or the side effects of any medication. Choices like organic baby formula is reassuring to know that its contents are all-natural and appropriate for your baby's needs.


If you are planning your c-section or having it done as an emergency, it is important to speak with your birthing team. This can be the nurses who bring your child to you for nursing, the staff to know that you want to start your baby on formula, or a lactation consultant to help you when your baby is not latching.


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