The effect of labor pain relief medication on neonatal suckling and breastfeeding duration

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Riordan, Janice M.
Gross, Aimee
Angeron, Judy
Krumwiede, Becky
Melin, Jeri

Journal of human lactation : official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association. 2000 Feb; 16(1): 7-12.


We examined the relationship of labor pain relief medications with neonatal suckling and breastfeeding duration in 129 mothers delivering vaginally. Suckling was measured using the Infant Breastfeeding Assessment Tool (IBFAT). Controlling for infant age, birthweight, and gender, infants of unmedicated mothers had higher IBFAT suckling scores than those of medicated mothers (x = 11.1 vs. x = 8.2 respectively, P = .001). IBFAT suckling scores for intravenous and epidural groups were similar (x = 8.5) while those who received a combination of both intravenous and epidural medications were lower (x = 6.4 +/- 2.96, P = .001). Mothers evaluated their breastfeeding similarly to nurse evaluators (Z = 9.39, P = .001). Breastfeeding duration did not differ between unmedicated and medicated groups; however, dyads with low IBFAT scores weaned earlier than those with medium or high scores. Labor pain relief medications diminish early suckling but are not associated with duration of breastfeeding through 6 weeks postpartum.

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