International Breastfeeding Day

Breastfeeding can be difficult to establish however you give birth. Even women who have had a straightforward vaginal birth can experience challenges. The stress of an unexpected caesarean birth can undoubtedly make things feel more challenging for some, but the proceedure itself does not prevent breastfeeding.

When breastfeeding following a caesarean, the main thing to think about is protecting the incision area as bruising around this area can leave you feeling tender for a week or more. Learning alternative breastfeeding positions to the well known cradle position we typically see in antenatal class and in the media, can make feeding feel that bit easier.

There are two other positions you might like to consider:

Side-lying puts you and your baby on your sides next to each other, this way your incision is less easily kicked. And a folded handtowel over the incision area can help protect you from wriggling feet

– The football hold is a seated position and involves you holding your baby to one side of your body, rather than across your body, again protecting your incision. A few pillows can raise your baby to the correct height, making this position very comfortable – it is also easier for managing your baby’s latch in the early days of learning to feed as you have both arms free.

The more traditional cradle position actually works perfectly well for many women following a caesarean, particularly after incision site bruising has reduced. But it is worth learning the alternatives to help you in the early days.

If you are experiencing challenges with feeding, talk to your health visitor, find out about local breastfeeding support groups and talk to other mums. Just one new idea from any one of these might be the thing that makes all the difference for you and your baby. Remember too, if breastfeeding is not working for you don’t beating yourself up, acknowledge you have tried and switch to a bottle. It is far better your baby has a confident, happy mum than one who is stressed out from pain or negative feelings.