Postoperative pain after cesarean birth affects breastfeeding and infant care

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Sep-Oct 2007;36(5):430-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2007.00160.x.


Objective: To study women's experience of postoperative pain and pain relief after cesarean birth and factors associated with pain assessment and the birth experience.

Design: Descriptive patient survey. Data were collected through a questionnaire. The outcome variables were assessments of pain using a Visual Analog Scale and women's birth experience measured on a seven-point Likert scale.

Setting: Central Swedish county hospital, maternity unit.

Patients/participants: The sample consisted of 60 women undergoing cesarean birth.

Results: Women reported high levels of experienced pain during the first 24 hours. Seventy-eight percent of the women scored greater than or equal to 4 on the Visual Analog Scale, which can be seen as inadequately treated pain. There was no difference between elective and emergency cesarean births in the levels of pain. In spite of high levels of pain, women were pleased with the pain relief. The risk of a negative birth experience was 80% higher for women undergoing an emergency cesarean birth compared with elective cesarean birth. Postoperative pain negatively affected breastfeeding and infant care.

Conclusions: There is a need for individual and adequate pain treatment for women undergoing cesarean birth, as high levels of pain interfere with early infant care and breastfeeding.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / psychology
  • Emergencies / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospitals, County
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / psychology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders / etiology
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors