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Caesareans & Feeding Problems

There have been quite a few posts in parenting forums this past month about problems with breastfeeding following a caesarean.


It stands to reason that feeding a weighty child and protecting an incision is tough all on its own but there are a few other reasons why breastfeeding may come with problems.

  • An overload of IV fluid given with epidurals during labour can inflate or swell the extremities (fingers, toes, feet, hands and yes, breasts) making it hard to get a good latch and learn right from moment one.

  • Concerns about baby's birth weight dropping (see above note re the overload of fluid above since this may also pertain to baby) stresses the parent who may supplement feeding causing issues with supply and demand.

  • No one may have stressed the importance of skin to skin (not skin to blanket) in the first week and the time spent doing this.

  • There are nine basic steps toward feeding that every baby arrives with and if this was disrupted, or not allowed, in the operating room, it may lead to problems in the first week or two following birth.

  • Nipple shields and supplementation don't usually help and often, they can hinder success with long term breastfeeding.

  • Following a caesarean, antibiotics are necessary and this can also interfere with breastfeeding. Sometimes, antibiotics are used during labour in combination with an epidural or for Group B Strep treatment. This may double the load.

  • The use of an epidural during labour can cause problems. More mothers seeking help in breastfeeding clinics have had an epidural than have not. The reasons are unclear and there are no qualitative long term studies on the impact of the epidural on breastfeeding.

  • There are certain healthy bacteria that transfer to each baby at different points of birth and breastfeeding. If the baby has not picked up this mix of microorganisms it may cause some problems for the infant in either (or both) the short and long term.

  • Pacifiers are not recommended for babies less than six weeks old or for mothers with supply and demand issues or those struggling with cracked nipples.

  • Well-babies, normal pooping and wet diapers are not something that we all understand as soon as our babies arrive. Learn your baby and trust your instincts.

Armed with the information, you can correct some of these issues. Breastfeeding is a learning process. What is your information source? Check our Resource Page to make sure you are learning from a reputable source.

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