Breast-feeding for a longer time may help women reduce the risk of chronic pain after a cesarean delivery, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Spain followed 185 women who had a C-section. Almost one-quarter (23 percent) of those who breast-fed for two months or less still had chronic pain in the surgical site four months after delivery. But just 8 percent of those who breast-fed for two months or longer reported chronic pain.
“These preliminary results suggest that breast-feeding for more than two months protects against chronic post-cesarean pain, with a threefold increase in the risk of chronic pain if breast-feeding is only maintained for two months or less,” wrote the researchers led by Dr. Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno from Our Lady of Valme University Hospital in Seville.
“Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breast-feed,” said the study team.
The researchers also said that women with a university education were much less likely to have chronic pain than those with lower levels of education.
Fifty-four percent of mothers who breast-fed reported suffering from anxiety.
Although this study wasn’t designed to prove any cause-and-effect relationships, the researchers said it’s possible that anxiety during breast-feeding might influence the likelihood of chronic pain. They’re currently studying this connection further.
The study was to be presented Saturday at the Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
C-sections account for roughly one quarter of all births in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Chronic pain (lasting for more than three months) after a C-section affects about 1 in 5 new mothers, the researchers said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on cesarean section.