Breastfeeding helps bonding, provides optimal nutrition, supplies important antibodies and reduces the rate of sudden infant death. A new report suggests it may help with something else too. Infants who nurse Portrait of a happy mother hugging cute babyduring vaccine administration cry and feel less pain than babies who are soothed in other ways. On average breastfed babies cried for 38 seconds less than the babies who were not nursed. Furthermore, babies were scored on a validated system to observe infant behavior in response to pain and breastfed babies scores were lower.  This study was not a surprise since previous studies showed that breastfeeding during a procedure to draw blood also reduced the pain for the infant but it was not known if the effect went beyond the newborn period. It appears to extend to older babies too… Breastfeeding did not remove all pain, babies still showed elevations of their heart rate during the vaccination, but it did seem to help. It helped more than giving sugar water, pain cream or spray, cuddling and massage. And, of course, there was no downside. Why does it work? Researchers feel that breastfeeding boosts oxytocin, a hormone that is associated with calmness, pain reduction and a sense of well-being in both mothers and babies according to Barbara Morrison, a researcher at Wichita State University School of Nursing. Info from Cochran Database of Systematic Reviews Oct 2016.


Dr. Badaracco