The seemingly endless benefits of breastfeeding can take a hit if the mother receives medication during labor. According to Dr. Kajsa Brimdyr and her research team, administration of commonly utilized labor medications such as fentanyl and Pitocin decrease the likelihood that the newborn will suckle appropriately within the first hour following birth.

“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,” said Dr. Brimdyr in a press release touting the study findings. “The implications of this study are huge.

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.”

Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding by talking to your OB-GYN about the risks vs. benefits of any medications prescribed during pregnancy and/or labor.