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Does Epidural Affect Breastfeeding?

Modern day epidural anesthesia for labor and delivery uses extremely low doses of medications. Sensitive assays can detect the presence of these medications in the baby, although the absolute levels are extremely low, even after prolonged epidural infusion during labor or cesarean delivery. Some women may experience difficulty with breast feeding, for wide variety of reasons,  regardless of the methods of anesthesia used during labor or delivery. A lactation consultant may be available at your hospital, who could help you achieve successful breastfeeding. Breastfeeding offers optimum nutrition to your child in the absence of medical contraindications.

ACOG (American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) Practice Bulletin on Obstetric Analgesia and Anesthesia. July 2002;36:177-191.

Bader AM, Fragneto R, Terui K, Arthur GR, Loferski B, Datta S. Maternal and neonatal fentanyl and bupivacaine concentrations after epidural infusion during labor. Anesth Analg 1995;81:829-31.

Halpern SH, Levine T, Wilson DB, MacDonell J, Katsiris SE, Leighton BL.  Effect of labor analgesia on breastfeeding success. Birth 1999;26:83-88.

Gizzzo et al. Epidural analgesia during labor. Impact on delivery outcome, neonatal well-being, and early breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med 2012;7:262-8. 

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