mother with newborn baby

Comfortable Breastfeeding Positions After a C-Section


Finding a comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section can be difficult, especially if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort. However, plenty of options allow you to rest while still nourishing your baby. To help, consider some of the most comfortable breastfeeding positions after a c-section.


How a C-Section Affects Breastfeeding

Recovering after childbirth will take some time, but there are a few differences between a vaginal birth and a c-section recovery. A c-section is considered a major surgery and doesn’t involve the same hormones released during vaginal birth. Therefore, there are a few things that you should be aware of regarding how a c-section affects breastfeeding. The most important include the following:


Delayed First Breastfeed

A c-section is a major surgery that requires anesthesia. Usually, this is a spinal or epidural anesthesia that doesn’t affect your upper body. However, if there are any complications, your doctor will need to address them before you can start with the first breastfeeding session.


Decreased Milk Supply

C-sections may also delay your milk supply or decrease milk production at first. This may be caused by a delayed hormonal release or added stress caused by surgery. However, you will still be producing colostrum, and once your milk supply is established, breastfeeding should be the same as if you gave birth vaginally. Talk to your doctor about ways to increase your milk supply leading up to your c-section, or consider expressing colostrum before your big day to allow you to start breastfeeding as soon as possible.


Less Mobility

You won’t be able to twist and turn or put pressure on your incision. Therefore, it’s important that you have someone to help you, especially when getting into a comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section. Your partner, a doula, or a lactation consultant should be there to pass you your baby when nursing. Otherwise, you can put your incision at risk for complications.


Mucus in Newborn’s Lungs

Newborns who are delivered by a c-section may cough up mucus during the first few days of their life. This is completely normal and nothing to be worried about. Although it tends to clear up within a few days, your baby may not be interested in breastfeeding as often. During this time, you’ll still need to try to nurse and use a breast pump regularly to keep your milk supply high.


Baby’s Birth Weight

During your c-section, you’ll be given an IV with fluids. This is standard procedure and completely safe for your baby. However, newborns tend to absorb some IV fluids, which can increase their birth weight and cause an inaccurate baseline for breastfeeding progress. Luckily, they usually urinate more during the first 24 hours and eliminate the fluids from their body, so their weight can be retaken. Talk to your doctor about this ahead of time to ensure you have an accurate weight to compare future weight gain to.


Tips for Breastfeeding After a C-Section

Although there are a few unique challenges—including finding comfortable breastfeeding positions—you can still nurse after a c-section. It might take a little more work and some outside help, but with some patience, you’ll be breastfeeding your baby in no time. Some tips to help you breastfeed after a c-section include:


Prioritize Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact with your newborn as soon as possible can help you create a strong bond with your baby and signal a hormonal release that can help jumpstart your milk supply.


Consider Breastfeeding on Demand

Breastfeeding on demand is when you feed your newborn any time they show hunger cues for as long as they want. This is in place of a predetermined or timed schedule. Breastfeeding on demand has several benefits and can help increase your milk supply after a c-section.


Ask for Help

Finding comfortable breastfeeding positions after a c-section can be hard on its own, so if you have any issues with mobility, pain, or anything else, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your partner or midwife, or find a lactation consultant to help support you during your post-op breastfeeding journey.


Talk to Your Doctor About Pain Relief

Feeling pain after a c-section is normal, especially in the immediate hours following surgery. This can make it difficult for your body to prepare for breastfeeding. To help you manage any discomfort, talk to your doctor about pain relief that is safe to take while breastfeeding.


Protect Your Wound

You’ll have a surgical incision across your abdomen that requires attention and care until it heals. This can take four to six weeks, but every woman is different. It’s important to protect your wound and care for it appropriately during this time. This means cleaning it, taking medication as needed, watching out for infection, and being careful not to put pressure on it. Therefore, it’s important to find a comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section that works for both you and your baby.


Best Breastfeeding Positions After a C-Section

Another challenge with breastfeeding after a c-section is getting comfortable. You’ll need to be mindful of your incision as it heals while giving your newborn plenty of opportunities for a strong latch. To help, it’s important to find a few comfortable breastfeeding positions that work for you.


Football (Clutch) Hold

This comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section provides excellent support without putting pressure on your incision. To get into a football hold:


  • Sit in a comfortable chair or on the couch
  • Place a pillow or cushion on your lap to help elevate your baby’s head to breast level
  • Hold your baby under your arm (kind of like a football) on the same side as the breast you’re nursing from
  • Make sure their head is at breast level
  • Support your baby’s neck and shoulders while their body rests along your forearm


Side-Lying Hold

The side-lying hold is another comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section that is great for when you need to prioritize rest and recovery. To get into a side-lying hold:


  • Lie down on your side with your upper body supported by pillows
  • Position your baby lying beside you so their mouth aligns with your breast
  • Keep their belly against your body
  • Bring your lower arm under your head against the floor for support
  • Keep your baby’s head and shoulders supported by a small pillow or your palm
  • Use your upper hand to offer your breast


Cradle Hold

The cradle hold is a classic and one of the most comfortable breastfeeding positions after a c-section. To get into cradle hold:


  • Sit in a comfortable chair or on a cushioned surface
  • Hold your baby’s head with the arm that’s on the same side as the breast you’ll use
  • Position your baby’s body across your lap
  • Rest your baby’s head in the crook of your elbow
  • Use your other hand to support your baby’s lower back and hips


Cross-Cradle Hold

This is similar to the cradle hold but allows for a little more control. To get into cross-cradle hold:


  • Sit comfortably with a pillow on your lap
  • Use the arm opposite of the breast you’ll use to nurse to support your baby’s head and neck
  • Position your baby’s body across your lap
  • Rest their head on your hand
  • Use your other hand to support your breast
  • Guide your baby’s mouth to the nipple for a strong latch


Reverse Crawl

This position provides your baby with more control, making it a great option for comfortably breastfeeding after a c-section. To get into reverse crawl:


  • Lie back in a comfortable, semi-reclined position
  • Place your baby on top of your chest, facing down
  • Let your baby use their instincts to find and latch onto your breast


Laid-Back Position

Finally, the laid-back position is comfortable and a great option for plenty of rest and recovery. To get into the laid-back position:


  • Find a comfortable place to recline, such as a bed or a couch
  • Lean back at a slight angle
  • Place your baby on your chest, allowing them to rest against your body and find the breast on their own


Everyone is different, so try to be patient. Work your way through the above suggestions, and once you find a comfortable breastfeeding position to support your c-section recovery, stick with it. In the meantime, to help support your recovery after a c-section, order a free breast pump through insurance from Byram Healthcare. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers can receive one at zero out-of-pocket costs. Check out our breast pump comparison chart to learn more about your options and begin your order today.