The benefits of breastfeeding are no secret. Breast milk is a magical cocktail of antibodies with a long list of health benefits for baby. Less is known about the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers — but now there's some good news. You can add another check to the pro-column of breastfeeding: New research claims breastfeeding after a c-section can reduce pain for months following the procedure.
C-section births account for about a quarter of all births in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They can be extremely painful and the healing process can be long. These added challenges are a testament to the power of moms as they fight through the pain to care for their new babies. Fortunately, new research out of the Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva indicates that breastfeeding during the healing process can lessen the likelihood of prolonged pain after a c-section.
For the purpose of this study, chronic pain after c-sections referred to pain lasting longer than three months after birth. One in five mothers who deliver via c-section report experiencing this type of chronic pain. Researchers found that only 8 percent of mothers who breastfed their babies for more than two months reported chronic pain, while a quarter of mothers who breastfed for two months or less reported persistent pain.
The study was conducted by Dr. Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno and colleagues from the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Valme in Sevilla, Spain, and included 185 mothers who had c-section births at the research hospital between January 2015 and December 2016. Following the births, these mothers were interviewed about their breastfeeding habits and the levels of chronic pain they experienced up to four months later.
The authors of this study also found a potential correlation between anxiety during breastfeeding and pain at the incision site up to four months after the operation. They found that over half of the mothers involved in the study reported experiencing anxiety during breastfeeding.
In addition to providing further insight into the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers, the researchers believe that their findings can serve to motivate more new moms to try breastfeeding. In a statement to Science Daily, they wrote, "Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed."
Research into this topic is still ongoing and the data is still developing. The authors are reportedly analyzing additional data gathered from women who were interviewed between November 2016 to January 2017. Hopefully, with more time, further promising results will be uncovered.