A mother shares her breastfeeding advice including expressing, and breastfeeding after a c-section
Colostrum is the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy and is commended by the WHO as the perfect food for the new-born with feeding being introduced within the first hour after birth. This is where skin to skin contact as soon as possible following birth is essential to encourage infant feeding and therefore milk supply. Some women fear that this will not be possible especially after C- section. I have had C-sections with both my babies and I was able to have skin on skin almost immediately. It is essential to express this wish to the midwife taking care of you but more often than not this is encouraged.
There are many different ways you can hold your baby to ensure the most comfortable position. Post C - section I found the football or rugby hold to be the easiest to minimise baby pressing on my wound. This took a little getting used to and the nurses were amazing in helping me find the most comfortable position. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- As baby is really cosy when held so close to your body he or she can easily fall asleep mid feed. I found different ways of gently encouraging them to feed while allowing them to snooze away!
- A gentle squeeze of their big toe can make baby more alert
- Rubbing a piece of cotton wool dipped in water along the forehead
- Opening of the bottom part of baby grow
- And if all else fails gentle breast compression or massage and/ or massage of baby’s cheek can encourage the baby’s suckle as a gentle reminder to resume feeding
When my little man was two days old both he and I slept a lot. Whenever I woke I worried that he wasn’t feeding enough. I was taking strong opiate pain relief post C- section and it made both of us sleep for Ireland. I had one nurse tell me that it was ok and that baby will feed when necessary and the next nurse looking after me panicked by my lack of feeding. As it turned out second nurse was absolutely right and little man had become a little dehydrated and his weight had dropped significantly from birth. Roll on day three and my room is filled with breast pumps and small bottles of formula while I was encouraged to feed and “top up” with either expressed breast milk (EBM) or formula. This was all a little disconcerting and I worried that it wasn’t the right thing to do but it actually worked really well.
How much you express depends on individual needs. The average mum who expresses between breastfeeding sessions can express between one and three ounces per pumping session.
If you are trying to increase the amount you can express, try to pump for at least 15 minutes and maybe continue pumping for 5 minutes after your milk stops flowing. Most mums need to express for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 20-30 minutes per session. Trying to express for any longer can lead to sore nipples and possible engorgement.
Be sure that you are comfortable and relaxed and have baby either close or a picture of baby with you to encourage milk flow. The time of day can make a difference in the quantity you express. It is normal for the volume to be less in the afternoon and evening compared to the morning. Most experts recommend, especially for the occasional pumper, to express their milk in the early morning, roughly an hour after nursing. The amount of milk you are able to express is not a reliable measure of how much milk you are producing or how much baby is feeding. The healthy breastfed baby is usually much more proficient at getting milk from the breast than a pump is.
It is important not to shake breastmilk (as it is thought to break down the proteins) like you would when mixing formula in a bottle. Instead gently swirl the milk and if heating gradually do so by placing under running warm water. This will also help to mix the cream which may have stuck to the sides of the bottle.
- Remember to use a sterilised container to put the milk in- breastmilk storage bags are really convenient
- You can store milk in the fridge for up to 5 days (usually at the back, not in the door).
- Milk can be stored for 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or for up to 6 months in a freezer
- Defrost frozen milk in the fridge. Once defrosted, use straight away
- I wear clothes that are easily accessible for baby to feed. This doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on special breastfeeding clothes. A breastfeeding bra is essential but after that a shirt with vest underneath, a top/t- shirt with cardigan, wrap dresses are all very handy. I also invested in a “cover”. This is a cotton breathable nursing poncho which is very comfortable and ensures baby is cosy and content. Large muslins also work as great covers. Some don’t feel the need to cover up and that’s perfect too.
- Being organised and having everything you need to hand such as your cover when out and about is helpful
- Sit somewhere comfortable and relaxing if possible with minimal noise and a nice cuppa for yourself. I sometimes find that baby can get fussy when there are loud noises and distractions such as bright lights which can make you feel uneasy