The effect of ultra low dose epidural analgesia on newborn breastfeeding behaviors

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2003 May-Jun;32(3):322-31. doi: 10.1177/0884217503253440.


Objective: To determine whether a difference in breastfeeding behaviors could be observed between newborns whose mothers received epidural analgesia for labor pain relief and those newborns whose mothers received no pain medication in labor.

Design: There were two groups of neonates in this study. One group was born to mothers who received epidural analgesia, and one group was born to mothers who received no pain medication for labor. Both groups were observed for initial breastfeeding behaviors using the Premature Infant Breastfeeding Behavior Scale following birth and at 24 hours. Central nervous system functioning in the newborn was measured with the Neurologic and Adaptive Capacity Score at 2 and 24 hours of age.

Setting: A large tertiary hospital in northeast Ohio.

Participants: Fifty-six breastfeeding mother-newborn dyads. All mothers were healthy multiparae who gave birth vaginally to normal, full-term, healthy newborns.

Main outcome measures: Newborns were observed for rooting, latch on, sucking, swallowing, activity state, and neurobehavior.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences in breastfeeding behaviors at birth or at 24 hours of age.

Conclusion: A possible cause for the lack of significant results may have been the ultra low dose of bupivacaine and fentanyl used in this sample.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural / methods*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology
  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Bupivacaine / pharmacology
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Fentanyl
  • Bupivacaine