I had a c-section with my son in 2018. I had wanted a natural birth, but due to complete placenta previa and late diagnosed vasa previa, I was admitted at 36 weeks after a scan, and he was out the next morning. I was put under general anaesthetic due to risk of haemorrhage, and neither my husband nor I got to see him come into the world. I was devastated, but in the end so grateful that he arrived safely.

So I had a 2.7kg preemie, who didn’t need NICU time but had low glucose levels, and was so sleepy from the anaesthetic (and just from being so little).

I was so desperate to breastfeed, and had previously researched on how I could increase my chances of breastfeeding my baby after a c-section. I wasn’t sure if I could, but I really needed to try.

Here is what I did:

  1. I asked my doctors and nurses if I could do skin to skin as soon as possible after the surgery. They had me under for the least time possible, meaning that it wouldn’t take as long for me to wake up after. I had him on my chest at one hour after

  2. Put him to the breast as soon as I could, and often. Every time he even stirred, he was back on the breast, for as long as he wanted. I was lucky he had such a strong latch, so much so he actually damaged one of my nipples

  3. I pumped in between the times he was on my breast, while the nurses topped him up with formula

  4. The nurses taught me how to hand express as well as pump

  5. I kept him with me the whole time in hospital, which I have to say was tough while recovering from surgery and him just cluster feeding all night

  6. At day 4, we went home. I kept to the same schedule: baby on breast as often as he wanted, and then pumping while hubby topped him up (first with formula, then as my milk came in and I was able to start pumping, with EBM). The schedule was gruelling, as he fed for 1.5 to 2 hours at a time, and only slept one cycle. Highly recommend a Spectra S1 or S2, hospital grade pumps really do make the difference!

It’s blurry now, but I think my milk finally came in on day 5 or 6. I still remember the first drop I got from the pump in hospital, I was so relieved, and proud! I kept the feed/pump schedule for a good month or so, which resulted in an oversupply and a fire hydrant letdown. It was absolutely exhausting, but we were able to feed for 14 months, when he self-weaned.

So it is absolutely possible to breastfeed after a c-section, but it does take a lot of persistence and hard work. If you want it bad enough, you can make it work. But if you can’t, that doesn’t make you a failure. In the end, we just want a happy, healthy baby, and it doesn’t matter how they’re fed, as long as they are fed.

To this day though, I still have a love hate relationship with my pump!