Sunday, April 06, 2008

Epidural, C-sections & the Risk of Thrush

I want to discuss how birth can affect breastfeeding outcomes. Particularly, I want to point out how antibiotics administered during medicated and cesarean birth can deleteriously affect breastfeeding.

I have a friend who had breastfed all 5 of Epidural Photo her children. However, she quit nursing her 6th baby after she got trush.

Her baby had been born at home (after having been turned from a transverse position.) The birth was stressful and there was meconium. The baby had a little trouble pinking up after the birth so the parents and midwife decided that dad and the midwife should take the baby into the hospital.

Even though the baby had improved by the time they arrived at the hospital, the dr's gave the baby antibiotics, did a blood test and wanted to life flight her to some big city hospital. The midwife said that she thought the baby looked significantly better and would not follow the recommendations if it were her baby. The dad agreed and they left.

Within a month after the birth the baby got thrush. According to the website, Breastfeeding Essentials, antibiotics administered to babies are a predisposing risk factor for yeast. Simply because this healthy baby was born at home she was given antibiotics by paranoid hospital staff which unfortunately, predisposed her to getting thrush and ultimately caused her overwhelmed mother to switch to formula.

As I read the Breastfeeding Essentials article, Could We Have Thrush?, I realized two more cenarios where breastfeeding is compromised during hospital birth.

1) Epidurals are known to cause elevated temperatures in mothers and newborns. This not only puts babies in jeopardy of receiving invasive tests (like a spinal tap), but also to receiving antibiotics.

Overall, 63% of the women (1,047) studied received epidurals, but their number accounted for 96% of those who developed fevers during labor. Their babies accounted for around 86% of all newborns tested for sepsis and about 87% of those given some form of antibiotics. (Excerpt from College of Midwives article.)

2) An excerpt from the Breastfeeding Essentials article explains this point:

Antibiotics administered to the mother during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, or shortly before or during the time that yeast symptoms occur. Please note that antibiotics are always administered when a cesarean section is performed.

I never realized until reading this that antibiotics were routinely administered to mom's receiving cesareans! So in addition to the discomfort, or pain, of nursing with an abdominal scar, the new mother might have to deal with thrush. Great! (Just what she needs.)

Of course, if a cesarean was truly necessary then a heightened risk of thrush would be acceptable, but we know that this country (with its 30% c-section rate) is out of control with unnecessary, elective cesareans as well as cesareans performed for reasons that were simply caused from one intervention following another, as the following excerpt from an Australian study attests.

Many of the women who had epidurals also went on to have Caesarean sections which can make breastfeeding difficult following the surgery. (Epidurals affect how successful breastfeeding will be )

Are women being informed that epidurals and cesareans heighten their risk of thrush, and its painful affect on breastfeeding? I doubt it.

Check out this interesting article: Choices That Can Affect Breastfeeding
For more info about epidurals visit Birthsong Childbirth Ed. & Support Services website.
Jenny Hatch's article: Epidurals???
How to breastfeed after a c-section:
article by Dr. Sears


tie-dyed doula said...

Anti biotics


Probiotics are nice balancing flora...:)

tie-dyed doula said...


tie-dyed doula said...

i don't know what hth is-i don't know how that post ended up there or what i was trying to post-... huh? who knows-sorry bout that!