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Will I be ready to breastfeed if I am having a scheduled C-section?

I am currently 38 weeks and 2 days and I have to get a C-section which is scheduled a week from today. I have not had any signs of colostrum and I am getting nervous. I am very set on breast feeding but I am nervous that I will not be producing anything when the baby arrives.

How long after delivery does the colostrum arrive? Will I be able to start feeding immediately? I would prefer not to supplement with formula but I'm afraid he will be hungry and I will not be able to feed him. I also have a Medela breast pump that I plan on using when I have to go back to work. I am just wondering how all of this works! Any advice is appreciated.

Rita Madden | Other-provider

Rita Madden

Good for you for choosing to breastfeed your baby! 

I understand that the unknown can cause some anxiety. Your body has been gearing up to produce milk since you were 16 weeks along. Rest assured, that not every woman leaks before she delivers. This has no bearing on how much milk she will produce. When the placenta is delivered, the hormonal cascade that causes colostrum to be released is triggered. You will have colostrum at the ready for your baby and as soon as your baby starts lip-licking and/or rooting, breastfeeding can start. 

I suggest doing as much skin-to-skin holding as soon after delivery as possible and allowing your baby to take the lead. A newborn's stomach is about the size of the end of your thumb and can hold about a tablespoon of milk. When the baby is about 3 days old, the stomach capacity increases to comfortably hold almost 1 ounce. By then, your fuller volume of milk is in. You have the perfect amount and perfect content of milk for your baby.

If you have any trouble with breastfeeding or are faced with having to supplement, please request a visit with your lactation consultant or get help from someone skilled at assisting breastfeeding or hand expressing. In the meantime, relax and trust your body and its ability to do what it is built to do.

Read more answers by Dr. Madden