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Labor Drugs Hinder Breastfeeding Efforts

Posted Sep 03 2009 10:44am

Have you ever heard, “ I couldn’t breastfeed “? I sure have. Some women simply can’t. They’re a rare bunch, accounting for only a small percentage of mothers overall, approximately 3 to 6 million women worldwide.

Those of us who believe in natural processes, like breastfeeding and childbirth without medical interventions, won’t be surprised to hear this news:

Labor drugs interfere with breastfeeding.


The BBC reports that drugs used during labor, such as those given to prevent hemorrhaging after birth, could lower the rate of breastfeeding.

This study, performed by Swansea University researchers of 48,000 women who gave birth to healthy (singleton) babies over 10 years, found that women who took these drugs had a 7% chance of lowered milk production.

Not a startling statistic, I know. Researchers warn not to conclude anything just yet. They want studies performed on these clotting drugs specifically to see if they, too could be one culprit in poor milk production.

Lead researcher Dr. Sue Jordan told the BBC that this could have the effect of 50,000 fewer British children breastfeeding annually. Think about the implications, then, worldwide.

Labor drugs such as the epidural have long been villified in the breastmilk department. And recently, a study on mice found that dioxins, present in all of us thanks to bioaccumulation, may also play a part in poor breastmilk production.

Find the study in BJOG, a worldwide gynecology journal. I was just as surprised as you were.

Image: Raphael Goetter on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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