Mothers who breastfed their babies for more than two months after delivery via Caesarean section were three times less likely to experience persistent pain, researchers found.
Chronic pain after C-section delivery, lasting for more than three months, affects around one in five mothers.
Though it is widely accepted that breast milk is the most important and appropriate nutrition in early life, little was known about the effect of breastfeeding on a mother’s chronic pain after C-section, the researchers said.
The findings showed that around one in four (23 per cent) of the mothers who breastfed for two months or less still experienced chronic pain in the surgical site four months post their operation compared to just eight per cent of those who breastfed for two months or longer.
“These preliminary results suggest that breastfeeding for more than two months protects against chronic post-caesarean pain, with a three-fold increase in the risk of chronic pain if breastfeeding is only maintained for two months or less,” said Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno from the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Senora de Valme in Spain.
“Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed,” Berenjeno added.
The details of the research were presented at the annual event Euroanaesthesia Congress 2017 in Geneva.
For the study, the team followed 185 mothers who underwent a C-section between January 2015 and December 2016.
Further, mothers with a university education were found much less likely to experience persistent pain compared to those who were less well educated.
Over half (54 per cent) of mothers who breastfed reported suffering from anxiety.
It’s possible that anxiety during breastfeeding could influence the likelihood of pain at the surgical site four months after the operation, the researchers noted.