April is Caesarean Awareness Month, a worldwide campaign setup by ICAN – The International Cesarean Awareness Network. The month long campaign aims to educate society about surgical births and their importance, with the aim of also reducing preventable preventable caesareans in mothers who do not need or will not benefit from it.
Caesarean Awareness Month also looks to support post-caesarean recovery, and advocate for vaginal delivery after caesarean.
To mark this important awareness month, we have four amazing mamas sharing their experiences of breastfeeding after a caesarean birth.
Breastfeeding after an emergency c-section – Louise’s story
“Unfortunately, I ended up having an emergency C-section following a failed induction. This in turn led me to lose a huge amount of blood and have a prolonged recovery in hospital. Of course, this impacted the start of our breastfeeding journey as I wasn’t even well enough to hold my baby when she was born, never mind feed her.
About 8 or 9 hours after she was born, a very kind nurse came to check in on me in the high dependency unit where I was alone due to covid restrictions. She offered to help me hold my baby for the first time and even latched her onto my breast for the first time and held her there while she fed. It was amazing and I just remember bursting into tears as it was something I’d only dreamt of until that point.
My milk suddenly came in while I was sitting on the postnatal ward and my baby, Harriet, started crying.
Jump to three days later and my milk suddenly came in while I was sitting on the postnatal ward and my baby, Harriet, started crying. I couldn’t believe how much milk was suddenly leaking from both of my breasts!”
Breastfeeding after an elective section – Kyla’s story
“Towards the end of my pregnancy I had to be monitored more closely as baby was measuring big. The 2nd to last consultant-led appointment I was told baby was going to be huge and at risk of shoulder dystocia and there was also a possibility that he may get stuck and need assistance getting out. So I decided on an elective c-section as I wasn’t willing to risk my baby’s health and cause him stress.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I had to be monitored more closely as baby was measuring big.
On 24 November 2020 Greyson Alexander made his appearance. Although I was in love with him all the way through pregnancy, as soon as he was placed in my arms I felt whole.
My milk came in around 4-5 days after Greyson was born and wow I couldn’t believe it! Did I leak? Oh yes. I woke up the first night of my milk coming in and it was as if I’d wet myself. My hubby and I laughed it off. I brought pads and doubled them which helped. I didn’t realise when I fed from one boob the other would leak too.”
Breastfeeding after a semi-emergency c-section
“It was early in the third trimester that we discovered she was transverse breech, and the only way she’d move was from side to side! My consultant said they would try manually turning her when I hit 37 weeks. However, at 35 weeks I went for a scan and found out I was losing fluid. This meant they wouldn’t be able to manually turn her, it was too much of a risk. I would have to have a c-section.
It was at this time a midwife suggested I start collecting my colostrum as a way to prepare for feeding my daughter. I tried but I didn’t have any. I was so worried about this, thinking this meant I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed.
A midwife suggested I start collecting my colostrum as a way to prepare for feeding my daughter.
At my 36 week appointment my c-section was scheduled for 39 weeks, however, the next day I woke up to my waters breaking. We rushed to the hospital and I ended up having a semi-emergency c-section. It all happened so fast, it was hard to process it all.”
Breastfeeding after a second c-section – Nicole’s story
“After an even sicker pregnancy with my second daughter, I was booked for an elective section. That was a difficult decision for me to make, especially as a Midwife with lots of experiences of complications, opinions, and years of training that encouraged the mindset of avoiding a Section at all costs. But it was the right one for me.
After an even sicker pregnancy with my second daughter, I was booked for an elective section.
Again, I had breastfeeding to fall back on, my one staple, and my little dose of much-needed normality among the uncontrollable intervention.
I’d say this was an even smoother breastfeeding journey. Which was lucky, as she was born right at the beginning of lockdown so there really wasn’t any help available even if I did need it.”