New mums who receive drugs during labour should be given more support from midwives if they choose to breastfeed their baby.
The recommendation follows the results of a new study that suggests a link between falling breastfeeding rates and the drugs routinely given to all women during labour to prevent and treat bleeding after birth.
The study, at the University of Swansea, was the first to look into possible biological reasons for the decline in breastfeeding, despite the Government’s efforts to encourage new mums to breastfeed.
Analysis of 48,000 women who gave birth in South Wales found that the use of clotting agents oxytocin and ergometrine were linked to a 7% fall in the number of new mums who started breastfeeding within 48 hours of giving birth.
“Women need more support to start breastfeeding soon after giving birth and this study adds weight to that,” said Rosemary Dodds, policy research officer for the National Childbirth Trust. “A lot of women are not given enough information about the medications that might be given to them during childbirth, and women at low risk of bleeding may not need to take these drugs.”