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I had an injection during my labour for pain relief. The midwife said this might make my baby sleepy for a few hours. Will it stop me breastfeeding?

To answer simply, it might. There are some steps you can take to minimise any problems though.
Different hospitals use different painkillers, you will probably have had either Diamorphine or Pethidine. Both of these are strong drugs which cross the placenta and as a result can also affect the baby. The effects of the drugs will have worn off by the time a baby is delivered if given early in the labour. However, if they are given towards the end, the baby may be quite sleepy, as your midwife rightly informed you. There is an antidote which can be given, it is not necessary in most cases and no longer routinely administered.

Current research appears to suggest that Diamorphine over Pethidine may be excreted from your baby’s body more quickly – suggesting that baby may be more alert for breast feeding and latching onto the breast following birth and during the first days.

Generally, baby’s are wide awake immediately after the delivery and for about the first hour. This is why we are so keen to help you breastfeed within this time period. It gives your baby a well-earned feed after the exertion of labour and delivery and reassures you that you are capable of latching on and feeding your baby.

Your milk supply can be affected by the long sleeps an affected baby might have so it is important to express some breast milk after the feeds. This can be given to your baby on a spoon or from a small cup which will avoid any confusion over teats.

Your baby might continue to be sleepy for the next few hours and days after delivery though this does not necessarily have to be a problem. If the baby is sleepy for long periods then demand feeding may need to be prompted slightly until those drugs have worn off. When your baby is more alert and looking for feeds, the feeding pattern can become more baby-led.



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