A study by Cochrane Library, a global independent network of researchers, has found that breastfeeding reduces the pain babies feel during vaccinations.
The research included six studies involving 547 babies up to 12 months of age. Nursing the baby while they are being injected reduced crying time by an average of 38 seconds, scientists found.
Breastfeeding distracts, comforts and soothes infants. Also, present in mother’s breast milk are endorphins, substances that may act as a painkiller.
Experts from the University of Ottawa in Canada believe that the findings could be used to make crucial vaccinations less traumatic for babies and parents.
“Infant vaccinations are essential, but painful,” they wrote. “They cause distress for the babies and often their parents, and can result in future anxiety and fear about needles. Breastfeeding when possible and feasible may also help to comfort babies and reduce their pain beyond the newborn period and throughout infancy.”
The World Health Organization changed its guidance on vaccinations last year to recommend breastfeeding for the first time, stating that: “If culturally acceptable, breastfeeding of infants should be done during or shortly before the vaccination session.”
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, let your doctor know. We have information available to help you prepare.