Women who use IVF less likely to breastfeed

September 20, 2013
New research highlights the complexity of the relationship between a mother’s age, method of conception, type of birth and breast feeding.

Women in Australia who conceive using assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF – and who have a caesarean birth before going in to labour – are less likely to breastfeed. This is despite the majority of pregnant women stating that they want to breastfeed their baby for at least six months.

A study published this week in the journal Acta Paediatrica highlights the complexity of the relationship between a mother's age, method of conception, type of birth and .

Lead author Professor Jane Fisher, Jean Hailes Professor of Women's Health at Monash University, emphasised the importance of health professionals helping to build confidence in women to breast feed, particularly in women who have had an assisted conception and prior to labour.

"We hope this new data will encourage midwives, lactation consultants and doctors to provide women in this situation with additional assistance to help them establish ," Professor Fisher said.

"These are important findings and show that women using (ART) to become pregnant need to be aware that they may find breastfeeding difficult, and so ask for support and help quickly after their babies are born," Associate Professor John McBain said, Senior Fertility Specialist at Melbourne IVF and a co-author of the paper.

The Parental Age and Transition to Parenthood Australia (PATPA) study was undertaken in collaboration with Macquarie University, Melbourne IVF and IVF Australia. It involved 619 women who became pregnant using ART or naturally.

Overall, 37.2 per cent of women had caesarean births. Women who conceived through ART had twice the number of caesareans prior to labour compared to women who became pregnant spontaneously.

When asked in pregnancy, more than 95 per cent of women wanted to breastfeed for at least six months. However, on discharge from hospital, 63.6 per cent of women who had used ART were exclusively breastfeeding, compared to 76.5 per cent of women who conceived spontaneously.

Four months after their baby's birth, 53.8 per cent of women who conceived naturally were exclusively breastfeeding. This compared to only 41.3 per cent of women who conceived using ART.

"We think there is something about going into labour that assists the onset of lactation – people speculate that it is to do with the release of the chemical, oxytocin," Professor Fisher said.

"If you don't have labour the onset of lactation might be delayed and that can be very anxiety-arousing. We think it's especially so for women who conceived with ART because they might already have experienced loss and be especially concerned about their baby's health and wellbeing.

"So even though women in these circumstances intend to breastfeed, when lactation is delayed they may worry about their baby being hungry and then introduce formula very early. After that, it becomes difficult to establish breastfeeding."

Professor Fisher said the study findings were particularly important in light of the World Health Organisation/UNICEF Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding that emphasises the importance of strategies to 'increase women's confidence in their ability to breastfeed' and that this requires not only sensitivity to their needs, but also the 'removal of obstacles to breastfeeding within the health system'.

"Assisted conception followed by caesarean prior to labour has significant negative effects on breastfeeding, which has not been reported before," Professor Fisher said.

"Given that breastfeeding is so strongly advocated by health authorities, need to be aware of these adverse effects and speak to their IVF clinician and their obstetrician.

"They should also be aware that if they conceive with assisted reproductive technologies and have a caesarean without going in to labour then they could find breastfeeding harder and so should ask for extra support to help them in those early days after their baby is born."

Explore further: Women conceive naturally after IVF, study finds

Related Stories

Women conceive naturally after IVF, study finds

August 13, 2013
One in three women who have their first baby through infertility treatment, become pregnant again naturally within two years of their first birth, a new study has found.

Moms need help to overcome breastfeeding worries, study says

July 11, 2013
More support is needed to help women overcome doubts in the hope that they will breastfeed their babies for longer, says a University of Alberta nutrition researcher.

Gap between maternity policies revealed

August 19, 2013
Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their child spend 6.6 hours a week longer milk feeding than mothers who partially breastfeed or formula feed, which has important implications for health policies and programs, including ...

Need for debate on when babies should eat solids

July 31, 2013
A University of Adelaide researcher says it's time for Australia's health authorities to rethink advice on how long women breastfeed their children exclusively.

One-to-one midwife care just as safe and costs significantly less than current maternity care

September 16, 2013
Continued care from a named midwife throughout pregnancy, birth, and after the baby is born (caseload midwifery) is just as safe as standard maternity care (shared between different midwives and medical practitioners) for ...

Recommended for you

Parents not confident schools can assist child with chronic disease, mental health

September 18, 2017
If your child had an asthma attack during the school day, would school personnel know how to respond?

Premature infants may get metabolic boost from mom's breast milk

September 14, 2017
The breast milk of mothers with premature babies has different amounts of microRNA than that of mothers with babies born at term, which may help premature babies catch up in growth and development, according to researchers.

Explaining bursts of activity in brains of preterm babies

September 12, 2017
The source of spontaneous, high-amplitude bursts of activity seen in the brains of preterm babies, which are vital for healthy development, has been identified by a team led by researchers at UCL and King's College London.

Why one teenager may need more—or less—sleep than another

August 30, 2017
Sleep problems contribute to a number of mental health issues in adolescents, researchers say. But a lingering question is whether some teens need more—or less—sleep than others to be healthy and at their best.

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

Children who sleep an hour less at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, says study

August 15, 2017
A study has found that children who slept on average one hour less a night had higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.