C-section and Breastfeeding

Updated on October 27, 2010
M.M. asks from San Marcos, TX
37 answers

I'm 34 weeks and my little girl has been breach for the past three weeks (I go weekly to my ob and receive weekly sonos). Today my doctor was beginning to discuss with me that if she doesn't turn he will try to manually turn her at 39 weeks and then immediately induce if it works or go straight for a c-section if it doesn't work. I'm not too happy as I had a vaginal birth with my first and was hoping for another with my second. I was unable to breastfeed my first and am planning to breastfeed with this one. I was wondering how much more difficult it is to breastfeed after a c-section as opposed to a vaginal birth (due to recovery etc). Any tips/ insight into this would be great. I'm just really nervous about not being able to breastfeed due to the pain and recovery of a c-section.

ADDED- Thanks so much for the suggestions! I forgot to ask if there is anything that I need specifically for me for post c-section recovery that would be different from a vaginal delivery recovery. Or any tips for a speedy recovery.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all the great responses!!! I feel so much more prepared than I did!

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M.S.

answers from Austin on

Get some granny panties! I got home and realized that the waistband of my underwear went right over my c-section. Not at all comfortable! I had someone go get me jumbo granny panties. Good luck! Hopefully you will not need the c-section!

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P.B.

answers from Houston on

I had c-sections with both of mine, breatfed both (although the drugs they gave me with the first made me VERY sick and I felt very shaky & throwing up, felt unqualified to hold because afraid to drop right after delivery). My MIL came to "help" with the first because my Mom had to finish working for 2 weeks (he came early) and my husband went out of town the day after I got home. We had a 2 story house and my MIL did NOTHING (oh, excuse me, she did fold 1 load of towels the entire week) - wouldn't even HOLD her new grandson or get him out of his crib for me!!!! I was fine - never even had pain meds after the operation. Know this wasn't "normal" but was that way with BOTH kids.

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C.P.

answers from Provo on

I had two kids vaginal birth and my last one c-section and breastfed all three. I did nothing different at all.

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J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

!

1 mom found this helpful
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K.B.

answers from Austin on

Nursed my 2nd after a repeat c-section with no problems. Key to your success in BF and Csection recovery is a low stress situation. Keep your visitors to a minimum and at a set time of day, say 12-2 and that's all. Everyone who loves you will respect this as not only your bonding time with your new baby, but recovery from serious abdominal surgery.
Make sure you keep a pillow close by for the first few weeks to use when you cough, laugh or anything that uses your ab muscles. Press the pillow against your incision and it will help comfort you. Keep your activity level low even though you feel like you're ready to walk/shop/clean you will be quite sore if you over-exert.
All-in-all my recovery went well and I BF until my DD self-weaned at 18 months. You can do it! Do what's best for you and your baby!

1 mom found this helpful

L.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I had a c-section, and had no problem breastfeeding whatsoever. I found that using the football hold/grasp was the easiest because the baby didn't lay across my incision, but in truth, it was actually easier to align my sons mouth to my breast that way as well. I was looking at his face straight on, rather than the side of him. I could see better that he was latched on properly. So it worked out both ways. My recovery was not bad at all. After about a week, I was up and moving just fine. If you have a little help in the week following your c-section, you'll do great.

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D.M.

answers from Denver on

I had two c-sections and breastfed both. There maybe something you can do to start lactation... ask you Dr. However, I had no issues. I'm sure all are different. There is healing and soreness - just in a different "area". Many found breastfeeding pillows helpful... I just used a regular pillow. Take it as it comes... good luck and congratulations. Don't stress about the c-section if you need one.... The biggest advice for c-section recovery is to not overdo. The drugs work and sometimes mask the pain. It really isn't that bad!

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M.M.

answers from San Francisco on

so responding more to your add- but Just for the record I was breastfeeding as soon as I got to recover- about 30 minutes after my daughter was born-

For good recovery- buy ahead of time or ask your nurses for a belly "binder"- elastic support band that wraps around you and holds things in place! Lived in mine for the first two weeks- just gives you that bit of extra support.

Take your pain meds at the set times- don't let the pain get ahead of you and you should be fine-

As soon as you can in the hospital- get up and move around. They won't let you go home until you can move and have a bowel movement- the sooner you can move the quicker both can happen- but at the same time don't overdo it- take it slow- your first time up may be a simple as moving from be to chair.

Once you get home- accept help!

Good luck- a c-section really is not bad if you go in with a good understanding and are prepared.

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A.L.

answers from Austin on

You've gotten lots and lots of great responses! I had both a c-section and a v-bac, and was able to successfully breastfeed after both. However, I did go into labor before the c, so that might have had something to do with it, hormones-wise. It wouldn't hurt to ask to be allowed to let labor start, before the C.

Several of my family members had c-sections, and they all told me how awful they felt, but you and I have an advantage over them: c-sections used to be done almost exclusively with a vertical cut, but now they are done with a horizontal cut (unless it is an emergency - and there's a difference, I discovered, between an unscheduled C and an emergency C). Horizontal cuts heal better and faster, and are typically smaller. (And invisible under your underwear, or even a bikini.) You'll be up and around - moving slowly, but you'll be up. Walking was easier for me after a C than a vaginal delivery - no bruising.

You'll get some prescription pain meds the first couple of days. For me, though, by the time I went home, it was OTC stuff. They'll let you know what's safe. But don't skip it - you'll heal faster if you take the pain meds. Pillows are great, and will keep the baby from resting right on your tummy. I sat cross-legged, with a pillow in my lap, and the boppy on top of that, and then the baby, with no problem at all. Also, fold a towel over the edge of the crib or the edge of the kitchen sink, or wherever you lean your stomach against - you'll want a little extra padding for a week or two.

You'll have some uterine pain associated with nursing. The nursing hormones are also making your uterus contract, and that will hurt a little more with a C. It's making you heal faster, though.

I'm not sure if you have an advantage, or disadvantage, knowing in advance about the possibility of a C. I was completely unprepared, and had about an hour between being informed of the possibility and having it done to process the information. But I didn't have time to be nervous - and you have lots of time for that, unfortunately. On the other hand, you can be a little more prepared - I (and lots of others) had to learn as we went - like everything else associated with babies, I suppose. Good luck, M.. You'll be fine, either way.

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H.W.

answers from Austin on

Stay positive, breach baby doesn't automatically mean a c-section is necessary, especially since this is not your first baby. I would suggest to your OB, attempting the version sooner than 39 weeks. You have a better success while the baby is still small. My first daughter was breach and turned successfully around 37 weeks and then delivered vaginally at 40 weeks.
If the version isn't successful, don't stress about the breastfeeding, it will come. My SIL BF for over a year with her first that was born via c-sec.
Good luck with everything!

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M.K.

answers from Dallas on

I had both of my babies via c-section, and I was able to successfully breastfeed both as soon as I was in the recovery room. The nurses positioned me on my side with a pillow behind me with my son last year, and that was a perfect position for after the section. As long as you follow the doctor's orders and don't try to do too much after your surgery, your recovery should be fine. Mine both were. :)

L.U.

answers from Seattle on

I labored for two days (exhausting!) and then had to be rushed in for an emergency c-section (son's heart stopped beating, in distress). I had the section and then was moved to my room, it probably all took an hour. I was VERY specific that he was NOT to get ANYTHING other than boob juice. :) He nursed as soon as he was brought to me. I didn't notice any difference with nursing my first (who was vaginal) and my second (who was sectioned). Just needed a bit more help from husband about picking the baby up (he was 10lbs!) for the first week. I nursed him lying down.
L.

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T.G.

answers from Austin on

I used a boppy pillow to nurse. If you are on a flat surface, place pillows on each side of you. That will help keep the boppy off of your tummy. I also had a glider chair to nurse in at home. The arm rest were the perfect width and kept the pillow up.
It might be hard but try not to sneeze. If you can feel it coming, place a pillow on the c-section line and press it hard into you. I don't know how big you are but I had lots of "hang over" skin. To keeo moisture off, I used a pad folded into the c-section line. Recovery for you... no bending, rest as much as possible, have somebody stay with you for as long as you need, my Mom stayed a month or more per baby, I have 3, do not, do not pick up anything heavier than the baby, including you older child.
Check with you doctor and see if they do stitches for the c-section. Some do staples and then you have more scars and more pain when you get them out.
Breast feeding... have somebody force feed you water. WATER WATER WATER. The more the better for your milk supply.

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L.M.

answers from Odessa on

Well, I have never had a vaginal birth. I had twin boys 5 years ago, and of course they were delivered c-section. Though my boys did not take to breastfeeding... it felt natural to me and I would assume I would have done it the same way if I did have a vaginal birth. Recovery, well, it will take longer, but I would suggest you definately get your walks in every day, as well as a lot of rest in the form of naps, when you can, or just sitting. Take it slow and before you know it you will be back to normal.

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T.B.

answers from Houston on

Hello,
I have a 19mo old and am expecting my 2nd in March. I had surgery for fibroids 2 years before my 1st thus have to have C-sections. I was also nervous about breastfeeding and the c-section. Between the recovery, medication (for pain) and a brandnew little one I was a little scared, even though I was familiar with the surgery and the recovery from fibroids which was very similar. I must say it was better than I anticipated. The pain meds they give you are safe for breastfeeding and using a boppy and pillows to help support my son made it realtively comfortable. The most uncomfortable part was getting in and out a of bed. If you have a stool next to your bed or if you husband can fashion some sort of hold/strap at the bottom of your bed to help pull you up so you are using your abs it will help. You just will be moving slow. Though I haven't had a vaginal birth I would assume there is some pain involved as well. For the most part the first week to 2 was the most uncomfortable and at that point the baby isn't real jumpy so I would be concerned about them putting undue stress on the incision, though if you have pets (cat or dog) then I would be very cautious of them jumping on you as it can be uncomformtable.
I would also encourage you to talk to the hospital to see if they have any classes on c-sections just so you know better what to expect and also talk to a lactation consultant. Good Luck! I know everything will work out!

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E.B.

answers from Houston on

Let's think positive. I had two breech babies and both were turned successfully. My doctor let me go home afterwards (I could have been induced but chose not to.) and both babies stayed in the correct position. One came naturally about two weeks later. The other was induced-twice!- before she decided to join us, also two weeks after the version.
I'm glad you have the info on breastfeeding after a C-Section. It's always good to be prepared. But I'm thinking you won't need that info!
And, two suggestions for getting the baby to turn on her own: sit in a warm tub and put a bag of ice on the baby's head or get on your hands and knees and rock. Neither one of these worked for me but they are both things my doctor suggested I try.
Good luck!

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K.W.

answers from Houston on

Some of my clients are able to initiate breastfeeding while still in the Operating Room. It depends on your hospital and doctor. If your body never goes into natural labor it may experience the birth as a loss instead of a birth - so as much skin to skin contact as soon as possible. Try really hard for no seperation and no post surgery drugs - just the spinal. If you are only 34 weeks there is lots of stuff you can do to turn the baby. check out spinningbabies.com, go see a webster certified chiropractor, lots of swimming and optimal fetal positioning exercises. Look at getting you doctor to do your version a little earlier when there is still room in there...just a week can make a difference, even a few days. If nothing works, there is probably a reason your little girl is breech...most of the times - babies know better than us. As far as recovery - follow the rules: nothing heavier than your baby, take it easy, hire a postpartum doula to come help out if you don't have enough help. No vacuuming. Good luck.

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E.D.

answers from Houston on

honestly your recovery will not be as bad as you have played out in your head. i have had 1 vaginal and 2 c-sections & honestly i was up and moving around in no time at all. you will be walking the next day after the surgery and this is a TIP do walk it helps with the recovery time. the most uncomfortable thing is your first night at home and trying to sleep laying flat I found myself sleeping in my love chair. DO ask the hospital for a belly brace before checking out, it helped lots!

brestfeeding will be no different no matter how you birthed!

F.A.

answers from Spartanburg on

I had a c-section with my daughter(2 yrs old) at 38.5 weeks due to breech positioning along with the fact that pre-eclampsia was setting in. My OB would not do an inversion because my body was under so much stress at that time so it was too risky. I didnt feel one labor pain and cant say that I'm sad about that because I think that has A LOT to do with how well your recovery goes. I was up and cleaning my hospital room 48 hours after my c-section-1 week later, I was walking the mall for hours.I didnt use a belly band but I have heard it helps. When you cough, laugh, or sneeze grab a pillow and squeeze it under your arms, against your stomach. Doing this helped me with the fear of taring my incision open.

I breastfed my daughter for 13 months with NO problems!! I was very determined to breastfeed partly due to hearing that c-section mamas and babies are less likely to do so and less likely to bond(proved that wrong); I also bf because of the financial and health advantages. When I nursed her the first time while in recovery, approx 15-20 after she was delivered, it went great. Just stay determined and use your lactation consultants.When you nurse for the first couple of weeks, hold the her like a football with her feet under your arm, by your side. Then make sure you have a pillow over your incision-under her head/body to support her. This will keep her off your stomach and allow you to hold her closer.

If you do end up having to have a cesearean, you delivered a baby just baby #1 only by a different method. Take the pain meds they give you, find a bfing position that works BEFORE you leave the hospital and take it easy for a couple of days. If this happens--it will be fine!!

Good Luck!!

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A.K.

answers from Tallahassee on

I had c-sections with both of my children and never had any problems breastfeeding. Make sure you see your baby as soon as you can and let them nurse. They seem to know what to do! Good luck!

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D.M.

answers from Houston on

Be sure your OB knows you want to BF and initiate asap after delivery. I BF both my boys after Csections. The main issue both times was the first we were both so tied up with med apparatus & I was on drugs due to complications that they didn't even let me try until 3 days later. With my 2nd, different doc, and I was adament that I wanted to BF immediately once I got to recovery. They were supposed to have the baby all cleaned up, etc by the time I got there so I could feed him. Unfortunately, though I kept insisting he was hungry & I needed to feed him, they didn't listen. It was only about 1.5 hrs after delivery, but he was so frustrated cause he was so hungry we had trouble with latching & had to use one of those shields which I later weaned him from.
Lucky for me, I have a really long torso, so I didn't have to worry about the baby sitting on my wound while nursing, but the nurses & lactation specialists are great about showing you alternative positions to keep the little one off your wound.
If you had any type of back support (belly bra, even a belly band) during pregnancy, they work wonders for supporting your abs after delivery. Coughing, laughing, even standing up is hard the first few days. Lesson learned after a couple days the 2nd time around and made it so much easier! This time I'm taking it to the hospital with me & putting it on ASAP. =o)
Both my boys were csections & my baby girl will be too, so I can't compare with a vaginal birth.
I truly hope your baby turns and you do not have to have a csection. Keep in mind that either way you have to do what's best for you & your baby to both come through the delivery safely. It's not a failure on your part if you can not have a v-birth. It took me about 2 yrs to come to terms with it after my 1st. During that time I'd read quite a few pieces about other moms feeling the same way, so I wanted to just put it out there as a heads-up. I felt like I'd done something wrong or I wasn't really a mother (amazing what crazy hormones & sleep deprivation can do to you!), but I finally realized I had this amazing little person and it's just the way he had to come into the world safely for both of us. Once my 2nd was scheduled (after major pg complications with both the 1st & 2nd), we got a lot of negativity from well-meaning but ignorant people who didn't know our specific situation. But this time around (#3) it just is. No one has said anything negative & the family is all excited that we'll know exactly when our newest little bundle will be joining us, though they hate having to wait until a month before delivery to know when it will be. LOL

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J.K.

answers from Phoenix on

I have 5 kids. My first one was a Vaginal birth (VB) and my last 4 were C-Sections. My 3rd C-Section burst open and wouldn't close so I had to stick a special gauze inside it for a week or two. Then I developed a hernia and had to have surgery 5 months later. I was able to breastfeed all of my children. Even with this complication with my C=Section, I was able to exclusively breastfeed him for the first year. Some things that helped me heal from my C-SEctions, especially since I'm allergic to most pain meds. I can only have tylenol and morphine. LOL I hold a pillow over my incision if it is especially sore. I also use moist heat for the pain. One of my nurses wouldn't give me moist heat in the hospital for the cramping when my uterus was shrinking when I BF but she made me chamomile tea heated up in ginger ale, instead of water. It tasted delicious and helped more than I thought it would. BFing is the same for me whether I have a VB or CS. Good luck to you!!

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M.W.

answers from Boise on

Your milk comes in slower after a C-section. Apparently not for the other ladies on here, but for me it was hard to nurse and make enough milk after each C-section. I took Reglan for a week to kick it in and then I was fine.

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R.D.

answers from Kansas City on

I have one son and he was an emergency c-section. My suggestion is to get a Boppy. It can be done. I did it! Good luck and God bless!

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

I have had 2 c-sections.... I had NO problem whatsoever, with breastfeeding. At all.
I nursed both my kids.... and the Nurses brought my babies to me as soon as I recovered... and they nursed and I had milk and my kids suckled just fine.
It was fine.

Get a Boppy Pillow.... which is great for breastfeeding. That is what I used.

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S.S.

answers from Austin on

My son was breech at my 36 week ultrasound. My doctor said she would try the external rotation if he didn't turn by 38 weeks. I spent the next two weeks using some of the techniques from www.spinningbabies.com & from my doula. The two that I did the most were handstands in a warm pool & the inversions off of the couch. And they worked! Good Luck!

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C.T.

answers from Houston on

I had a c-section with my first and I will be having it with my second in Jan.

I had no issues breastfeeding. I started the day I had her until she was 9 months.

I am not quite sure why everyone makes a big deal about a c-section. As long as you listen to your dr. and follow his/hers orders for recovery, you should be fine.

The dr. told me to start walking around asap. The day after my surgery, I began walking (more like shuffling) around the hospital. When I got home, everyday I would take my newborn and go walk for 30 minutes. By the time 6 weeks came around and I went to the dr., I was so antsy to begin running. She gave me her blessing and I was back to running 3 miles in 2 weeks.

J.L.

answers from Clarksville on

I encourage you to find a chiropractor in your area that specializes in the Webster Technique. This method has been helpful at turning breech babies. Women have also had success with acupuncture.

You might find some information here at spinning babies helpful too.
http://www.spinningbabies.com/

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A.M.

answers from Austin on

I had a really tough time with breastfeeding after my c-sections. I suggest pumping as often as you can stand it between nursing, take reglan if you're not getting enough milk (if the baby is losing more than 10% of weight), and drink tons of water!

Try not to pick up anything heavy for the whole six weeks, that really does help with recovery time

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C.A.

answers from San Francisco on

Buy a boppy! Not only will this pillow help you with breastfeeding; it will lift her/ him off your lap and help any discomfort you may feel from the c-section. I have had three c-sections. The boppy is really a must have. I even brought it to the hospital.

C-sections are not necessarily terrible. My last one I was in the hospital 36 hours and did not have any pain .

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L.K.

answers from Austin on

Visit a chiropractor that practices the webster technique to get your baby to turn.

Lisa

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M.M.

answers from Hickory on

All I have known is c-sections. I have had two. My first went breach after I went into labor and the doctor that saw me while mine was out of town would not let me have him. I take it you have never had the doctor try turning before. Oh, my prayers are with you on that one. Boy that I can remember even more so than the 3 months I was in labor. They turned my son and as soon as they let go of him he went right back around. They turned him 3 times and I gave in and went to the OR for c-section. I wanted no more of that, lol. As the breastfeeding it worked great for me. I was able to feed both of my children. I will tell you that if you have a hard time dealing with pain make sure you stay up on the pain meds the first few weeks. Get your self one of those baby pillows that go around you for laying the baby on to feed. This keeps the baby from laying on your c-section line. Also I liked laying on my side when I was hurting and laying the baby beside me and placing my hand under the little head so it is not paying down flat and feed that way. It keep everything off my c-section line. If you are out be sure to carry a soft blanket that you can fold up and lay over you. It is all about a little cushion over the sore spot. Hope this helps.

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S.K.

answers from Seattle on

My baby was also breech and I had a c-section. It did take a few days for my milk to come in, but the colostrum (sp?) was there and I didn't have any problems breastfeeding. And once the milk came in, no issues. (though I did have some supply issues a few months later but I think that was stress/sleep deprivation related and did get better). I bf'd for over a year. As for the turning of the baby, this is the version you are getting, right? My doctor tried that and just be aware it is quite painful. It takes about an hour and I found it very painful. It hopefully will work for you but unfortunately did not for me (stubborn little one, lol!). Also be sure to drink LOTS of fluids and eat tons of fiber after the surgery to help with that first BM after. good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Austin on

If you can get a doula before the delivery. If not definitely try to hire a lactation consultant after.

I had my first through c-section. They dr's can go to 42 weeks at the most with a non-stress test to check baby's stats. Check the website spinning babies (http://www.spinningbabies.com/techniques) some of the techniques you can do.

Also as a side note my first was a c-section and my next 2 were vaginal births. I was able to breastfeed for all of them. Be sure you are ok with your decisions and if you are having trouble sometimes a private LC can make a world of difference. OR LLL.

Good Luck!

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K.O.

answers from Columbus on

I do not believe that breastfeeding is any harder after a c-section. I had one and breastfed for 3-4 months. Tips on post surgery is a little different. You will be a little weak, so make sure that you have someone to help when you go to take a shower. Believe me...I had to call for a nurse. I have a high pain tolerance, but hated the weakness that I felt. The morning after, BEFORE your doctor comes in to take off the tape from your incision, make sure to take some meds. No one warned me that this was the worst. Also be careful about eating ice right after. I got choked and couldn't cough. I had to call the nurse because I couldn't breathe. Those were my only two bad experiences though. The normal pain was tollerable and I was able to manage fairly well. I would suggest either sleeping at the edge of the bed or on the couch at first as these are easier to get up from on your own. One end of my couch was a recliner and I spent several nights on that. Also, get some Gold Bond powder or the generic equivalent. After showers and several other times a day use it on the incision. I would wait until after you are home and you know the incision is healing well. This heals and prevents yeast infections. It took me about a year to get back to 100%, so don't expect to be running marathons only months afterward. It is considered major surgery. I hope you don't have to get one, but you are doing the right thing by learning about it just in case. Good luck and God bless. <3

A.F.

answers from Chicago on

I personally had a vaginal birth with #1, was unable to breastfeed her after lactation consultants galore and ultimately pumped for 3 months till I dried up. She is now 3 and has 4 food allergies. I was hell-bent to nurse #2. I had him when #1 was 15.5 months and got induced 1 week late and ended up with an emergency C-section after a 20 hour induction that only got me to 7 cm (turns out #2 had a SHORT CORD of 6" and couldn't come out). I allowed the recovery nurse to give my son (#2) 1 bottle of formula. After that, I nursed him exclusively for the next 12 months. I won't say it was easy being laid up (hospital wouldn't let me leave the bed for 18 hours post surgery, I had a urine catheter in, IV, etc. and hospital had me on pain pills that I DIDN'T WANT but doc said I had to take) and nursing but it was well worth it in the end :)

I fully plan to nurse #3 (on the way) for a year as well, no matter what happens. With the formula recalls and the food allergies in our family, it is worth the pain and time.

Best of luck with your delivery!

A. F.
Local Childcare Coordinator
Cultural Care Au Pair
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B.

answers from Augusta on

not at all difficult.
My c section recovery was 10x easier than my vaginal birth recovery.

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