06 June 2017

Breastfeeding may reduce pain from C-section

Breastfeeding for more than two months protects against chronic post-Caesarean pain.

Out of all the deliveries in South Africa, just over three quarters (76%) are performed via C-section, according to a Health24 article.

It is well known that breastfeeding is beneficial for babies' health, but a new study shows that breastfeeding has added benefits for the mother, i.e. helping to reduce the risk of chronic pain after a Caesarean delivery.

Encouraging women to breastfeed

Researchers from Spain followed 185 women who had a C-section. Almost one quarter (23%) of those who breastfed for two months or less still had chronic pain in the surgical site four months after delivery. But just 8% of those who breastfed for two months or longer reported chronic pain.

"These preliminary results suggest that breastfeeding for more than two months protects against chronic post-Caesarean pain, with a threefold increase in the risk of chronic pain if breastfeeding is only maintained for two months or less," wrote the researchers led by Dr Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno from Our Lady of Valme University Hospital in Seville.

"Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed," said the study team.

The researchers also said that women with a university education were much less likely to have chronic pain than those with lower levels of education.

54% of mothers who breastfed reported suffering from anxiety.

Further study

Although this study wasn't designed to prove any cause-and-effect relationships, the researchers said it's possible that anxiety during breastfeeding might influence the likelihood of chronic pain. They're currently studying this connection further.

C-sections account for roughly one quarter of all births in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Chronic pain (lasting for more than three months) after a C-section affects about one in five new mothers, the researchers said.

Read more:

Breast milk benefits

Breastfeeding is best

Breastfeeding in South Africa is dangerously low


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