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January 16, 2007


Plain Jane Mom

I'm no expert, I just have my own experience. My 2 c-section births ended with me nursing my kids for 1 year each.

For different reasons, they each were also in the NICU for several days after birth, so breastfeeding was even more difficult.

I guess I'd say that in my experience, breastfeeding success was not related to c-section. But that's just me ;)

Good luck with your decision!


Thanks for the shout-out! (Wow, that is a very dorky thing to type).

I had a c-section too (breech presentation, preeclampsia, 37w5d).

If I am lucky enough to give birth to another baby (though sometimes I struggle with the idea that, having had a c-section, I did in fact "give birth" in the first place), I think I would want to try for a VBAC strictly for breastfeeding reasons as well.

My LC says that c-sections, in her experience, are often a complicating factor in troubled breastfeeding relationships for the following reasons:

--the IV fluids engorge your breasts;
--the epidural affects the baby in some way I can't recall;
--you don't get the baby right away and by the time you do, baby is usually past the alert-I'd-like-to-suckle phase and into the dead-tired newborn phase;
--the mother has trouble moving around and is often on serious drugs;
--the hormones of labor (for planned c-sections) aren't in place that stimulate a) the baby to be ready to be born and b) the milk to get a move on;
--hospitals monitor c-section mommies more and their babies more and are more likely to jump in with formula at any sign of trouble, thus leading to nipple/flow preference;
--planned c-sections are usually done at 39 week or even earlier, and given the lack of precision of dating a pregnancy, and the fact that (according to my godlike LC) babies born before 40 weeks are full term for everything EXCEPT nursing, you are more likely to have a baby who has trouble learning to nurse;
--you typically are in the hospital longer, which can make it hard to relax and get into the groove of a good nursing relationship.

So, I'd really like a VBAC, in theory, to avoid those things. (Before I had my baby I was all into having a fantastic birth experience, but now I am tremendously more focused on the breastfeeding relationship--I mean, which lasts longer, anyway?)

But in reality, I bet I will never have a vaginal birth. The statistics are against me, and the preeclampsia I had before is against me, and there's this other thing: I am already going to be totally crazed with anxiety about getting breastfeeding "right". I'm not sure I also want to be fretting about getting birth "right"--fighting with the hospital, the OB, the nurses. I might just want to let that battle go and go through something I have done before and will therefore feel more in control about so I can conserve my energy for nursing.

Again, though, it took 2.5 years for me to get pregnant the first time. I should count myself lucky to have to worry about this decision in the future.


Is there research that discusses the trends with breastfeeding and a vaginal or c-section birth? Mine were vaginal, but since I don't produce Prolactin, breastfeeding didn't really work. I wonder if the ease of breastfeeding is tied more to the ease that would be there regardless of circumstance with a smaller number of cases tied to not having immediate access to the baby/recovery. Is there a doctor you can ask for statistics?


Interesting idea...there is another option, and that is to switch to a hospital that will ensure you are able to nurse after a c-section. (You're moving anyway...this could be a criteria?) My hospital is so committed to helping moms that they put the baby to the breast immediately after birth, right while you are being sewn up after the section. Yes, the nurse has to hold him, no big deal...that hospital is committed to making sure all women get to breastfeed, c-sections, preemies, etc.
For example, lots of women have epidurals, I had one up to my shoulders done with morphine at the end of my first pregnancy with my oldest. He latched on just fine. A really good place to look for research on this might be Dr. Jack Newman's book/website. He's a breastfeeding expert and I'm sure a good place to get some ideas.


I didn't have any trouble breastfeeding after my c/s with my first son because the lc at the hospital immediately brought in a pump after my c/s and put me on a pumping schedule to help get my milk flowing. When my son was ready to feed in the NICU my milk was all ready and I was able to get my colostrum to him by bottle for his first feeding. It did not interfere with his later latching. Good luck either way you choose. I am making that decision now for my second son.


wow, how depressing. I live in the UK and here it's standard practice to have a nurse assigned to you immediately after the cesarean specifically to encourage the baby to the breast (basically she's there to help position you both!) Formula is NEVER given unless the baby hasn't eaten anything for upwards of 48 hours. But nobody expects women to be producing actual breastmilk either - I was told repeatedly with both my children that my milk wouldn't 'come in' for a few days and that my baby should be suckled to encourage it to come in, and that he would be fine etc etc.

I've had two scheduled c-sections and no problems with breastfeeding either time. I did refuse any painkillers stronger than codeine though - no NSAIDS as I am allergic and no opiates. So maybe that made a difference, though I was very uncomfortable!

The whole breast pump is weird to me too - hospitals always have them available but feel they cause more harm than good in the few days after birth.


VBAC can mean so much more than successful breastfeeding. The recovery difference is nothing short of amazing. Being able to care for your infant at birth instead of relying on others is no comparison. I don't even remember the first couple days of my son's life because of the general anesthesia and pain relief after the surgery. I remember every vivid detail of my daughter's births (one hospital VBAC and one homebirth VBAC). Sadly, they are memories that I don't have of my son's birth. I have nursed all three of my children (still nursing #3 at six months). I highly recommend getting in contact with La Leche League while you are pregnant. Get your support system in place before the baby is born.

And no matter what method of birth you decide on, the hospital is employed by you. Policies are not set in stone, as much as they would like them to be. Get a birth plan and have your pediatrician and OB sign it. Be kind, but firm with your wishes in the hospital. In the event of a c/s, a doula can be there with you while your husband goes with the baby to make certain your wishes are followed. Good luck!

Morgan Humble

My first son was delivered using normal delivery. It was okay, I didn't regret the experience. The second one was tricky. Apparently, I had problems with my womb and I couldn't do a normal delivery again, so I opted for the C-Section. It was also okay and I have to thank my doctors for being so gentle with it. I don't know if I'll be pregnant again. But I think another C-Section is the way to go on my third child.

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