If You've Had A C-Section, Experts Say This Is The Best Position For Breastfeeding

by Cat Bowen

Having a cesarean is major surgery. It's a long and often painful recovery that requires a lot of personal attention and even more ibuprofen. On top of that, it's all happening at the same time you're expected to take care of a completely helpless little person who relies on you for everything. It's fraught with potential problems, but luckily, breastfeeding doesn't necessarily have to be one of them. There are ways to make it easier on yourself and your new baby. What's the best position for breastfeeding after a C-section? Thankfully, you have a few options.

After your C-section, your abdomen will be sore, and it's also possible that there will be a creeping ache between your shoulders, according to the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. The incision in your abdomen and pain in your shoulders almost guarantees that the typical cradle hold many mothers employ would be too painful to attempt. Don't let that deter you. According to the La Leche League, holds like the football hold where the baby is crooked under your arm and at your side, or breastfeeding while lying on your side with your baby lying against or ahead of you, can be comfortable options for new mothers after a C-section.

What's the best position for breastfeeding after a C-section if you can't lie on your side? I know from personal experience with multiple abdominal surgeries that this is not always the most comfortable position. In fact, the one and only time I ever considered getting a recliner was post-op from a lengthy abdominal surgery. Let me tell you, though, I am so glad I abstained. My decor style is more "rock star meets mom" (everything is gold but also crayon) than "recliner dad cave."

I asked certified lactation consultant Theresa DiAngelo of Staten Island, New York for a few tips. She tells Romper, "First, you need to make sure you feel OK before you start. Take the Motrin. Have some water or coffee, whatever you're craving. The more at ease you are, the less pain you should ultimately encounter." She says that moms are too hard on themselves and don't take the pain killers they're given, but that it really helps. "The first position I would try would be the football hold. Picture the Heisman pose — hold your baby like a football with the legs curved around your side, feet pointed to the back. Cradle the baby's head in your hand and up against your breast. It's an easy position for latching, and it avoids your abdomen entirely."

She says another tried and true position is to recline almost all the way back on your bed, and lie your baby face down onto your breast, with the legs off the the side they're feeding on. This way, if lying on your side is painful, you can remain comfortable and in control, but your baby can still be cozy and latch. "It looks weird, I'm not going to lie. Almost like your baby crawled onto your breast to latch and eat, but it's really comfortable for mom, and it's a soothing position for baby." My babies loved being on their tummies, and I can see how they would've liked this position.

The last position is the easiest. "Lie on your side, with a pillow against your belly for positive pressure, and lie your baby upside down so that his feet are aimed at your head and his mouth can reach your nipple. There's no risk of getting a leg to the incision site (although you might get a foot to the teeth), and your baby can easily latch."

You might have to try a few of these before you find what works best for you, and you might need to consult a lactation consultant, but with a little assistance, and a lot of patience, it can definitely work.

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