Research has shown that breastfeeding can help to relieve pain for mothers who have delivered via caesarian section.
The benefits a breastfeeding baby enjoys are endless. Not only does breastmilk contain antibodies that help babies fight off potentially harmful things like bacteria, viruses, and even allergies, but it is also jam-packed with nutrients and calories, boosts brain growth, and is easily digestible - resulting in less gastrointestinal problems and reflux.
But breastfeeding isn't just good for the baby. There are a host of benefits for mom as well, including increased immunity, faster weight loss, a reduction of postpartum bleeding, and incredibly, studies have shown that breastfeeding also lowers the risk of particular types of cancer, such as breast and ovarian cancer. For both mom and baby, there is nothing quite like the bonding experience that occurs during those nursing months, and according to a ten-year longitudinal study published by the American Psychological Association, women who breastfeed their children for an extended period showcase more maternal sensitivity well past the infant and toddler years.
Now, research (one of the few available studies that explores how breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s pain after a c-section) has shown that breastfeeding also benefits women who have undergone cesarian section (C-section) births. Researchers from Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Valme, Dept of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine in Sevilla, Spain, found that C-section moms who continued to breastfeed for at least two months after birth were three times less likely to experience chronic pain associated with the surgery.
The study examined a total of 185 mothers, in which a total of 11.4 percent suffered from chronic post-cesarean pain (CPCP) following childbirth. Chronic pain after a C-section is described as pain that continues for more than three months post-surgery. While most women can expect the pain following major abdominal surgery to be acute and challenging to manage at times, persistent pain that continues for several weeks or months is considered to be abnormal and can have long-lasting, adverse effects - both physically and psychologically.
Only 8 percent of mothers who breastfed for more than two months, the study found, reported experiencing chronic pain four months post-surgery. This is compared to 22 percent of mothers who breastfed for only two months or less. The importance of this study cannot be understated: C-section procedures are among the most common surgical procedures in the world, and they are continuing to rise. Managing and reducing C-section pain post-birth for mothers is critical, and the benefits can have a lasting impact on both maternal and infant health worldwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that when possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.