Delivery method can affect breastfeeding

Have you ever considered that the way you deliver your baby can affect the breastfeeding? Me neither. But the medical community says that assisted delivery methods have a big impact on the success of breastfeeding later on. Of course, when discussing delivery, baby’s and mum’s safety always come first and the choice of the method to be used should always be made with this on our minds. Still, there are many criteria we should think through when choosing a method that will help us bring a baby to this world, so let’s take a look at what these methods can offer and what kinds of risks they carry.

Induction

Induction is usually performed by using a synthetic analogue of hormone oxytocin. Naturally, oxytocin is present in our bodies and has an important role during the delivery – it causes the uterus to contract and push the baby out. If the delivery is taking much longer than expected, your doctor may suggest this method to cause contractions artificially and speed up the process. The problem with oxytocin is that its effects may persist after the delivery and considering that this hormone also regulates lactation, problems with milk supply may occur. Another option to speed up the delivery can come from natural induction methods such as walking, having sex or some types of massages.

Assisted delivery

This procedure is usually performed if a baby gets stuck in the birth canal. The doctor will use a forceps, a metal tool that looks like a pair of tongs. This tool is used to get a hold of a baby’s head and by pulling gently, help the baby get through the birth canal. It may seem like a very robust procedure, but besides a few scratches that will disappear in a few days, your baby should be perfectly fine. In rare cases, this method can cause nerve paralysis on the baby’s face that also usually goes away after a while. Nevertheless, make sure to discuss this option with your doctor and understand the risks.

If the nerve damage does happen, a baby may have a hard time latching on, whilst the sucking movement of the jaw can be very painful making nursing even more difficult.
You can increase your chances of avoiding assisted delivery by choosing a good position to give birth in – studies have shown that giving birth while standing reduces the need for the assisted delivery. Do your research and decide for a position that will suit you best.

CTG or cardiotocography

CTG is a test that monitors baby’s heart rate, as well as uterus movement during the third trimester of pregnancy and during delivery. The technique itself is not invasive, but it does increase the risk for an assisted delivery and C-section, which can affect the success of breastfeeding.

Infusion

If a mum gets too much liquid through a transfusion, there is a risk of a swelling all over the body, including the breasts, which can affect lactation.

Pain killers

The general rule is that pregnant women shouldn’t be taking any medication, unless the risk of not getting the treatment justifies it. This is because majority of medication are not being held up by placenta, reaching the baby’s bloodstream in the matter of minutes. Narcotics and anaesthetics slow down the breathing in the mother, but also restrict the newborn’s chances to breathe, swallow and make the sucking movement on their own. Instead of going for NSAIDs, try reducing the pain by using natural techniques such as massage, water delivery, etc.

Epidural

Scientific findings on this topic do vary, but there is one thing worth knowing before deciding for an epidural – this type of anaesthesia can cause a cascade effect, meaning that it may require additional methods such as using oxytocin, continual following of the baby’s heart rate, etc… Some women may require an assisted delivery or C-section due to epidural.

C-section

The research says that women who give birth to their babies through a C-section are less likely to breastfeed. This may be due to the fact that the recovery after a C-section lasts longer, making breastfeeding more uncomfortable, and less likely to succeed from the start.

Separation

If the baby is placed to the mum’s chest right after the delivery and if the mother hasn’t been administered with any medication, the baby should start nursing almost right away, within an hour after birth. This is probably the most important piece of the puzzle when discussing successful breastfeeding. By doing this, the baby gets a chance to recognise the natural instinct and start nursing, setting a good foundation for successful breastfeeding in the future.

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