How Ryan’s birth affected breastfeeding

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This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about birth experiences and breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!


Ohhh, this is a good topic. As many of you know, I had a c-section. I researched pregnancy and birth and knew everything there was to know (or so I thought). I knew I wanted it natural, I knew I didn’t want pitocin and other interventions, and I knew that 1 in 3 women ended up with a c-section. But I never, ever, thought I’d be that 1 in 3. So… I didn’t read a single thing about c-sections. There was no need! I thought–that will never happen to me, not in a million years, because I don’t want one.

How naive, right?

BUT, I have to say there is ONE area where I think not researching c-sections actually benefited me. Breastfeeding. A few months after Ryan was born I learned that women who have c-sections usually have a much harder time breastfeeding. I’m still not totally sure on all the reasons why, but mainly because you don’t get to see (and nurse) your baby immediately after they’re born. They are whisked away to the nursery while you’re stitched up. I think I got to hold and nurse Ryan about 1.5 hours later, but I’ve heard many women say it took them many more hours.

Bonding with your baby after a c-section is also harder and can make breastfeeding difficult. Your incision site is quite sore for awhile and makes it painful to hold your baby, which can make it hard to breastfeed.

Yes, I went through all those things. Yes, breastfeeding was one of the hardest and most painful things I’ve ever had to do. But Ryan is now 6.5 months old and he’s still exclusively breastfed. I honestly think that it HELPED me to not know that c-sections can make breastfeeding harder. Had I known that, I probably would have blamed all my issues on the c-section (hating it even more, if possible), and maybe I would have quit? I mean, I would have had an excuse, right? “I had a cesarean, breastfeeding didn’t work.”

Through it all–the pain and the difficulty and the lack of bonding with my baby–all I kept thinking was… “I failed at his birth, there’s no way I’m going to fail at feeding him.” And for that, I’m extremely thankful. So is my little boob monster ;)

How did your birth affect breastfeeding for you? Did it help or hinder? How do you think things could have gone differently?


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12 comments to How Ryan’s birth affected breastfeeding

  • I had a bit of trouble nursing my first, but that was mostly because I was totally suckered into believing that my kid wasn’t getting enough and I should give her formula.

    That was pre-research crazy me.

    My second and third were nursed without a problem. I definitely pushed to have them in my room as soon as I could, and for them, I didn’t stress about the hows, I just let them do their thing.

    (Oh, and I had three c-sections. The first after a lot of distress for the baby… though it’s questionable as to whether I REALLY needed one. The second, after the docs led me to believe I couldn’t do a VBAC, and the third after being unable to find a single doc in the area who would let me try a VBAC with a breech baby after 3 c-sections. So alas, that’s my lot in birthing babies… thankfully, I’ve had no complications aside from some allergic reactions, and I’ve successfully breastfed 3 kids, the 1 year old still going!)

    I think a woman can do so much more if they’re informed or determined enough.

    -@monsterchew

    [Reply]

  • Elizabeth

    I also had a c-section with my first. Her body temp wouldn’t get to normal so it was a few hrs after birth before I even got to see her. After 16 hrs of labor, I had only gotten to 4cm and baby was too stressed. I’m not convinced I needed one. I think the Dr got tired of waiting. Anyway, they discovered that her body temp wasn’t getting higher because she,like me, had a naturally low temp. Ours is both 97.8. I gave the nurses strict instructions that my baby was to be BF ONLY! The first try was so hard, I was tired, didn’t even know what my name was at that point. But the LC was so wonderful doing everything she could to help me. Baby was 5.12 so she had a small mouth. The LC gave me a nipple shield and like magic it worked! I continued to BF her till she was 14mo old! BFing with my 2nd (now 2 1/2 month old) was a breeze and yes c-section with him as well. He came out nursing like he had been for months! I admit, the 2nd c-section was more painful. He was 3wks early and 4.14. They are both so healty though. My 4yo had antibiotics for the 1ST time last year. Never got sick and a great eater. I couldn’t go back to work with her untill she was eating baby food good because she wouldn’t take a bottle at all. She would cry and cry refusing the bottle. We tried every few days to give her “mommy milk” in one but nope, she was all natural! My new baby will take a bottle and go straight back to boob like they were the same. On a proud note for me, I was told later by many people in my family that the never thought I’d make it BFing for longer than 2 weeks. I showed them!
    C-sections are hard on both mom and baby but a word of advice: make your mind up and stick to it! YOU CAN DO IT! 100% stick with it!

    [Reply]

  • Sometimes we can know TOO much and I think you have a great perspective on this in saying that since you didn’t KNOW ahead of time all the effects a cesarean MIGHT have a breastfeeding, you couldn’t use it as a fall back or blame it, though I think there are MANY moms who WOULD let breastfeeding go because maybe they aren’t informed enough on breastfeeding and don’t realize that interventions can lead to struggles with the start of breastfeeding. Good for you on being resiliant and determined!

    [Reply]

  • L

    I just came across your blog and a lot of the things you said in this post struck a cord with me. I also wanted to have a natural birth, didn’t want pitocin or other interventions, and ended up with a c-section. I was and still am every disappointed and bitter about it, I’m so happy she got here safe and sound but I felt like I failed. We also struggled with breastfeeding at the beginning. For about 5 weeks, one doctor kept threatening formula, we had to do weekly weight checks, it was so stressful. But I refused to give up, like you I kept thinking “I failed at bringing her into the world the way I had wanted I won’t fail at this too.” I kept at it and eventually I figured out (not the doctors, nurses, or lactation consultant) that she was tongue tied. We got that taken care of and now we have been breastfeeding for 10 months without a drop of formula. I like to think that no matter what I wouldn’t have given up but I wonder if the c-section might have played a part in it.

    [Reply]

    babydickey Reply:

    That’s so great–reading your comment made me a bit teary eyed. I hate to hear about other women who went through the same thing as me… c-sections can be traumatizing and especially depressing when you feel it was unwarranted. I know how much pain I’m going through and I’m sorry that you are as well. But that’s a wonderful story that you were able to keep up with breastfeeding. :) Congrats on 10 months so far!!! You rock!

    [Reply]

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