Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Your Birth and Breastfeeding

How your baby comes into the world can have a large effect on your initial success with breastfeeding. More and more information has come out about how birth affects breastfeeding and hospitals are becoming "Baby Friendly," to encourage and support breastfeeding immediately after birth.

Mothers are having out-of-hospital births (in birth centers and at home), because the chance of them having interventions that hinder breastfeeding are slim to none. I'm going to share with you how each part of today's "normal" births can put a roadblock on your path to successful breastfeeding.

Induction: When a mother is induced, there's a chance her baby is not yet to term, which can cause a delay in the mature milk coming in. Inductions can also double the chance of a c-section, which can give a whole new set of problems.

Pain medication (especially the epidural): When a mother gets an epidural, she must remain in bed until well after the baby is born. She also must have a saline IV, which fills her body with extra fluids that can cause pathological engorgement (breasts not overly full of milk, but of saline [which can't pass through to the milk]) and make latching extremely difficult. The saline can also raise the baby's weight, distorting the actual birth weight and causing unnecessary concern over weight gain.

Cesarean- Mothers can successfully breastfeed after a c-section just as they can after a vaginal birth, as long as they remain committed and have the baby near them as soon as possible after delivery. Some may still struggle, and the milk may have a delay in coming in, but it's just as possible, and even more important for a baby born via c-section to breastfeed.

With determination, education, and support, every woman can have a fighting chance at successfully breastfeeding from birth. Check out Breastfeeding 101: Surviving the Hospital and Newborn Days for more tips!

Happy breastfeeding!!


  1. I agree 100%! My c-section went well (for a breech-emergency CS) and I got to bond with my son while being stitched up. My husband held him close to my face and I got to kiss and touch him. However, we had a LOT of issues at first. He had latch & suckle issues. I was full of fluids & pain meds, so not able to fully gauge what all was going on with my body. Also, I believe Luke was bloated from fluids (I'd been on an IV 3 hours pre-surgery) and that made the "10% body weight drop" more drastic and caused a lot of our issues with the staff.

  2. Stephanie, I'm glad you were able to breastfeed, even with a troublesome start!