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The Labour and Birth - Effects on Breastfeeding

The Labour and Birth - Effects on Breastfeeding

The Labour and Birth - Effects on Breastfeeding


A vaginal birth often helps breastfeeding get started early. Although some interventions may delay breastfeeding , you and your baby can always get back on track.


  • Can cause breast and nipple oedema, which can make latching difficult, increasing risk of nipple damage and poor milk transfer.


  • Morphine - 1/2 life (1.5-2hrs)
  • Pethidine - 1/2 life (63hrs)
  • Can cause sedation and respiratory depression, causing baby to be too sedated to suck, or may have poor disorganised suck.


  • Can stay in baby for up to 3 days
  • Affects baby's alertness and orientation
  • May cause a delay in milk "coming in"
  • Baby misses out on mums natural endorphins which help baby to deal with stress and pain

OXYTOCIN - used to make contractions regular

  • Is an antidiuretic, can cause fluid overload = OEDEMA


  • May delay milk "coming in"
  • Baby may be sleepy, have uncoordinated/weak suck, fewer/shorter feeds =making less prolactin receptors =lower milk supply
  • Lower breastfeeding rates and duration


  • Associated with delayed breast fullness
  • Can make baby too weak and sleepy to feed


  • Can damage baby's facial nerves and interfere with feeding reflexes
  • Baby may experience pain =stress=poor feeding

Some drugs/interventions can cause a disruption to this hormonal pathway. Skin to skin can normalise these mothering hormones.