Epidurals Can Affect Breast Feeding

Breast FeedingAn Australian study has found that women who receive an epidural during childbirth are more likely to have breast feeding problems in the first week.

They are also more likely to stop breast feeding before the end of six months than women who don’t receive an epidural.

93% of women in the study breast fed their baby in the first week after birth. However, those who had an epidural were much more likely to have difficulties breast feeding during the first few days after delivery and breast fed less often than other women.

At 24 weeks, 72% of women who did not have an epidural were still breast feeding, compared with 53% who received pethidine or epidurals containing bupivacaine and fentanyl (an opioid).

The findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that the fentanyl component of epidurals may be associated with breast feeding difficulties.

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