Onset of milk production — vaginal birth vs. C-section

Here was an interesting study from Iran that looked at how soon after birth a woman’s milk came in. There were various factors which affect milk supply, but this study divided the women into three groups: 1) vaginal birth; 2) C-section with labor; 3) C-section without labor. There were no statistically significant differences between the two C-section groups, but there was a significant difference between women who had a vaginal birth and those who had C-sections.

For women who had a vaginal birth the average time between birth and first milk ejection was just a tad over two hours. For women who had a vaginal birth, it was between 10-11 hours.

The article concluded:

Any kind of stress including cesarean section may postpone milk ejection by hormonal inhibition for a few days after delivery and this will result in newborn weight loss and failure of nursing by the mother. So, to support breast feeding in our country, the rate of cesarean section must be wisely diminished, vaginal delivery encouraged, and after delivery every newborn taken back to his or her mother as soon as possible for nursing.

This obviously does not mean that women who have C-sections will be unable to nurse; but it is a contributing factor which should be taken into consideration into the decision to have a C-section. Having people around you that help support you in breastfeeding is probably an even bigger help to successful breastfeeding. I’ve heard some stories that made my blood boil of doctors, nurses, even “lactation consultants” (and I use that term loosely, in these situations, because they were either unable or unwilling to help women who wanted to nurse, and helped contribute to them giving up breastfeeding and/or feeling like failures), who actively or passively undermined a woman’s attempts to breastfeed. Some of these comments were things like telling a woman trying to nurse her infant, “You’re not doing it right!” but not helping her do it right; or doing things like giving the baby a pacifier, sugar-water, or formula in the nursery. Sometimes the baby’s father can undermine breastfeeding by what he says or does — or what he neglects to say or do.

For you men who think that this is all “women’s work” or whatever and that you have nothing to do with it, you couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, you can go a long way to counteract other people’s statements — for good or for bad. If you encourage your wife to breastfeed when others do not, or in fact are discouraging her, she will be more likely to breastfeed. If, however, you discourage her attempts at breastfeeding, even when others are encouraging her, she will be more likely to give it up.



3 Responses

  1. Do you want to add a “no one” option to your survey?That would be my choice – no one discouraged me from breastfeeding. And I have! for years!! 😉 In fact, thru my 2nd pregnancy & my milk coming in for my 2nd child was so much easier.

    Sure thing! — Kathy

  2. Having had both births I can attest to this…my milk came in SO much sooner with my VBAC than after my c/s…I was amazed…too bad VBAC baby had an AWFUL latch…lol

    Thankfully (in regards to your poll) everyone around me encouraged me to nurse, nurse, nurse!

  3. You’re so right!!!

    When our son was 3 days old, my husband started panicking because DS was refusing to eat, and DH wanted me to start on formula. Had formula not been so expensive, I probably would have! But the expense factor made me stick in there and keep trying, and he is now still nursing at 28 months!! But breastfeeding is NOT easy, and getting started can be very hard. Women are really vulnerable to the influence of others at this time, and they really need all the encouragement they can get.

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