How you birth the baby has tremendous impact on the breastfeeding journey. There is a series of hormonal responses in the baby during the baby’s birth. This is in response to the triggers during the birth process itself.
A natural, vaginal, un-medicated birth helps in releasing the natural hormones from the mother, which naturally passes to the baby when the baby moves through the birth canal. The baby builds its own supply of hormones like catecholamines, oxytocin and other stress hormones.
Positive impacts of natural birth on breastfeeding:
With these hormones built up, baby will stay awake for the breastfeeding. Baby’s transition into this world will be easier. Oxytocin builds up in the baby to prepare for breastfeeding. When the baby naturally passes through the birth canal, fluids get squeezed out of the baby’s lungs – which means the baby can breathe easily and suckle better. Another relationship between natural birthing and breastfeeding is that natural birthing colonizes the baby with important bifido bacterium and other bacteria that prepares the baby’s digestive track. This also helps prevent respiratory illnesses and allergies for the baby.
It is important for mothers to understand the above breastfeeding benefits of natural birthing. It is also important for mothers to understand how medications, epidurals and other interventions can impact breastfeeding.
Negative impact of interventions on breastfeeding:
- The baby will latch better when not exposed to narcotic medications.
- Too many interventions during labour can lead to Cesarean births which can impact skin-to-skin and thereby impacting breastfeeding.
- Increased risk of engorgement
- If there is birth trauma, there is an increased risk of postpartum mood disorders which may reduce duration of breastfeeding.
- Delay of initial breastfeeding with a Cesarean.
- Increased pain, which increases adrenaline and reduces oxytocin release, impacting breastfeeding.
Hence, it is important for the mother to follow a proper lifestyle in terms of food, nutrition and exercise throughout pregnancy. This will help her have a well-managed labour and birth which will result in a successful breastfeeding start.