Elective Cesarean Delivery: Does It Have a Negative Effect on Breastfeeding?
Cesarean delivery has negative effects on breastfeeding. The objective of this study was to evaluate breastfeeding rates, defined in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, from delivery to 6 months postpartum in infants born by elective and emergency cesarean section and in infants born vaginally. Methods:
Delivery modalities were assessed in relation to breastfeeding patterns in 2,137 term infants delivered at a tertiary center, the Padua University School of Medicine in northeastern Italy, from January to December 2007. The study population included 677 (31.1%) newborns delivered by cesarean section, 398 (18.3%) by elective cesarean, 279 (12.8%) by emergency cesarean section, and 1,496 (68.8%) delivered vaginally. Results:
Breastfeeding prevalence in the delivery room was significantly higher after vaginal delivery compared with that after cesarean delivery (71.5% vs 3.5%, p < 0.001), and a longer interval occurred between birth and first breastfeeding in the newborns delivered by cesarean section (mean ± SD, hours, 3.1 ± 5 vs 10.4 ± 9, p < 0.05). No difference was found in breastfeeding rates between the elective and emergency cesarean groups. Compared with elective cesarean delivery, vaginal delivery was associated with a higher breastfeeding rate at discharge and at the subsequent follow-up steps (7 days, 3 mo, and 6 mo of life). Conclusions:
Emergency and elective cesarean deliveries are similarly associated with a decreased rate of exclusive breastfeeding compared with vaginal delivery. The inability of women who have undergone a cesarean section to breastfeed comfortably in the delivery room and in the immediate postpartum period seems to be the most likely explanation for this association. (BIRTH 37:4 December 2010)
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2010