Experts Say: Epidural and Breastfeeding

Category: Birth & Beyond
Experts Say

Worried that having an epidural might to breastfeeding issues? Dr Chua Young from A Clinic for Women, eases your worries.

I’ve heard that having an epidural during labour may lead to breastfeeding issues. Is this true? How can I ensure I have a successful breastfeeding journey with my newborn?


Medical literature presently does not support that epidural during labour lead to reduced success in breastfeeding. A confounding factor that leads to this perception may be that there is more epidural uptake amongst mothers who are first-time delivering due to longer labouring hours. Perhaps also due to these extended time, mothers are more likely exhausted at the end of the delivery and find it hard to start breastfeeding. First-time mothers are also slightly anxious when it comes to breastfeeding and may take a bit more time to “get the hand of it” compared to experienced mothers.  The key to a successful labour is to have a realistic expectation about labour, duration, and pain tolerance. For mothers who do not tolerate pain well and get very distressed during labour, there is a “waste of energy” fighting pains. 


It may be a better situation if they have an epidural and conserve energy for the pushing, which is strenuous! This allows them to have much better energy level to handle the baby as soon as they emerge, which establishes skin-to-skin contact and start breastfeeding.


The initial contact with the baby should be as soon as the baby is born, barring emergency measures to help baby if there are breathing problems. Mothers who get to cuddle babies right after birthing often bond with babies immediately. Latching can be established at this time. Even if there is no visible milk flow (and this is most likely the case for first-time mothers), suckling kickstarts the milk production. The more supported and stress-free the mother is, usually the easier breastfeeding gets established. Mothers who are anxious and sleep-deprived may find themselves struggling to meet the baby’s demand.


Question answered by:

Dr Chua Yang

A Clinic For Women

Mt Alvernia Medical Centre

Dr Chua Yang will be one of our guest speakers at Motherhood’s Pregnancy Congress happening on 28 April 2018. Join us and learn about what to expect during the 40 weeks, giving your baby the best start in life and how you can overcome the challenges ahead. For more info Click Here

Thanks for sharing!

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