Background: To evaluate the influence of regional techniques of anesthesia and analgesia on breastfeeding rate after cesarean section and vaginal delivery.
Study design: prospective, area-based.
Setting: Obstetrics and Pediatrics Department at Aosta Valley Regional Hospital.
Subjects: all the mothers and their newborns during a three-year period (1993-1995). Maternal wish to breastfeed was the main inclusion criterion. Data recorded: feeding modality at discharge, anesthesia and analgesia modality, maternal/neonatal socio-demographic and clinical data.
Results: 2725 records were examined, among them 1920 vaginal deliveries and 355 cesarean sections were statistically analyzed. chi 2 analysis showed a significant greater incidence of breastfeeding after cesarean section under regional anesthesia (spinal or epidural) versus general anesthesia: 95% vs 85.5%, p = 0.002. Breastfeeding rate was not different after vaginal delivery with epidural analgesia versus delivery without analgesia: 96.5% vs 97.8%. Logistic regression confirmed the positive role of regional anesthesia and few other maternal and neonatal variables on breastfeeding rate after cesarean section.
Conclusions: Regional anesthesia seems to be advantageous for breastfeeding after cesarean section, probably because of a faster neonatal-maternal bonding if compared with general anesthesia. Epidural analgesia for vaginal delivery does not adversely affects breastfeeding if compared with delivery without analgesia.