A study has been done on moms who receive epidurals during labour. While they are said to be bliss during the stress of labour, they may prevent you from breastfeeding effectively.
A chemical in epidurals may affect babies or it may be that women who do not have pain relief are more likely to persist with breastfeeding, they said.
However, a UK expert said that while the International Breastfeeding Journal study was interesting, women should not worry.
Around 20% of UK women have epidurals – inserted into a space near the spinal cord – to ease the pain of labour.
The researchers looked at the women’s childbirth and breastfeeding history.
Of the 416 who had an epidural, 172 also had a Caesarean section.
Although 93% of the women studied breastfed their baby in the first week, those who were given an epidural were much more likely to have problems.
They were also likely to completely stop breastfeeding before six months compared with women who did not have any pain relief.
Three-quarters of those who had no analgesia were breastfeeding at 24 weeks, compared with 53% who received pethidine or epidurals.
The researchers, led by Dr Siranda Torvaldsen, say: “There is a growing body of evidence that the fentanyl component of epidurals may be associated with sleepy infants and difficult establishing breastfeeding.”
They add: “Whatever the underlying mechanism, it is important that women who are at higher risk of breastfeeding cessation are provided with adequate breastfeeding assistance and support, both in the initial postpartum period [just after birth] and the following few months.”