Image: A new study shows breastfeeding reduces chronic pain after Caesarean delivery (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
New mothers who breastfeed their children for at least two months after birth are less likely to experience chronic post-cesarean pain (CPCP) at the surgical site, according to a new study.
Researchers at Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Valme (Sevilla, Spain) conducted prospective cohort study involving 185 women who were interviewed in person during the first 24 and 72 hours after cesarean section (C-section), followed up by a telephone interview after four months. The main outcome was the presence of CPCP in the surgical wound at four months. Variables included were breastfeeding, surgical technique, levels of study, occupation, pain in the first 24-72 hours, and the presence of anxiety during breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding was realized by 87% of mothers, with 58.4% of mothers maintaining breastfeeding during more than two months. In 31.4% of the cases, artificial lactation was not included. 53.8% of the mothers whom realized breastfeeding confirmed suffering from anxiety. The results indicated that while overall incidence of CPCP was 11.4%, just 8.3% of mothers who breast-fed for at least two months experienced chronic pain at the surgical site, compared with 22.8% of mothers who breast-fed for a period of under two months.
The results also indicated that anxiety during breast-feeding might influence chronic pain risk, and that mothers with a university education were at a reduced risk of experiencing CPCP. All of the study results remained consistent, even after accounting for a number of possible confounding factors, including the mother's age. The study was presented at the annual Euroanaesthesia Congress, held during June 2017 in Geneva (Switzerland).
“These preliminary results suggest that breast-feeding for more than two months protects against chronic post-cesarean pain, with a threefold increase in the risk of chronic pain if breast-feeding is only maintained for two months or less,” concluded study presenter Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno, MD. “Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breast-feed. It's possible that anxiety during breast-feeding could influence the likelihood of pain at the surgical site four months after the operation.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life. Even after the introduction of foods at six months of age, continued breastfeeding is recommended until at least two years of age. Globally, only 38% of infants are breastfed during their first six months of life, while in the United States only 13% are breastfeed until the age of six months. Short-term benefits for the mother include less blood loss, better uterus shrinkage, weight loss, and reduced postpartum depression. Long-term benefits include decreased risk for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and rheumatoid arthritis.
Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Valme