Breastfeeding Success Negatively Impacted by Common Labor Medications

Groundbreaking research on the association between common labor drugs and breastfeeding success when skin to skin during the first hour after birth.

​​​​​​​Healthy Children Project, Inc., a non­profit research and educational institution dedicated to improving child health outcomes, is proud to announce the publication of groundbreaking research conducted by principal ethnographer and lead researcher Kajsa Brimdyr, along with an international team. The Association Between Common Labor Drugs and Suckling When Skin ­to ­Skin During the First Hour After Birth, has been published online ahead of print circulation by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. in the journal Birth, Issues in Perinatal Care.

Dr. Brimdyr, PhD, CLC, and her team examined the correlation between commonly used labor medications and a newborn’s ability to breastfeed in the first hour after birth, a crucial window to the success of establishing breastfeeding. A strong negative correlation was found between the amount and duration of exposure to epidural fentanyl and the amount of pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) against the likelihood of suckling during the first hour after birth, suggesting that exposure to to these widely ­used medications has an adverse impact on newborn behavior. Significantly, suckling in the first hour after birth has been shown in other studies to increase desirable breastfeeding outcomes. The CDC goal of improving breastfeeding rates in the US could save more than $13 billion annually in pediatric healthcare costs, as there are numerous correlations between breastfeeding and the health of both mother and baby.

Dr. Brimdyr commented, “It is crucial for new parents to be aware of the risks of intrapartum drugs, and medical professionals have an ethical obligation to inform parents of such risks, especially when these drugs are so prevalent in Labor & Delivery. The implications of this study are huge.” She adds, “In the United States, more than 80% of women intend to breastfeed, but only 22% are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the World Health Organization, and others. Pitocin remains the most widely ­used drug for inducing labor and 61% of first-­time moms receive an epidural. This study may offer insight into why our intentions don’t match our outcomes.”

The study is available as a free download online at Wiley at and on PubMed at

Brief explanatory video at​

Healthy Children Project, Inc. website:​

About Healthy Children Project, Inc.:

Healthy Children Project, Inc. was established in 1993 as a non­profit research and educational institution dedicated to improving child health outcomes in partnership with public, private and non­profit agencies. Through its Center for Breastfeeding, Healthy Children is the largest national provider of lactation management education for health care providers.

Quick facts:

WHAT:​ The Association Between Common Labor Drugs and Suckling

WHEN: Skin­ to ­Skin During the First Hour After Birth

WHO​Kajsa Brimdyr, PhD, CLC, Healthy Children Project, Inc.


​WHEN: October 13, 2015

COST:​ free download

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Contact: ​

Kristin Stewart
​Healthy Children Project, Inc.

Tel: 508-888-8044


Categories: Healthcare, Women's Issues, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Tags: birth, Breastfeeding, Epidural, Fentanyl, health, intrapartum drugs, Labor Medications, newborns, oxytocin, Pitocin, pregnancy, womens health

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Healthy Children Project, Inc. is defining the field of research-based breastfeeding education and ethical, evidence-based breastfeeding practice.

Kajsa Brimdyr
Kajsa Brimdyr
PhD, CLC, Healthy Children Project, Inc.
Healthy Children Project, Inc.
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