Could Breastfeeding Make Baby's Shots Hurt Less?

Add it to the list of breastfeeding's superpowers.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Nov 2016
Pediatrician administering a shot to a baby's leg area
Photo: iStock

Watching baby get poked and prodded by vaccinations may be more distressing to you than him or her. Wish there was a way to ease the pain for both of you? A new study suggests that there is—and only you can provide it.

After compiling data from 10 studies involving 1,066 infants, the Cochrane Library determined that breastfeeding during or shortly before an injection can help reduce pain in babies under a year old. Specifically, researchers say crying was reduced by an average of 38 seconds and babies scored 1.7 points lower on a scale of pain scores (based on behavior and facial expressions).

Review leader Denise Harrison, RN, PhD, says breastfeeding does more than just divert baby’s attention during vaccinations.

“This is not just about distracting the child from the needle,” she tells the Daily Mail. “We know that skin-to-skin contact is a factor, along with the heartbeat, the sound and smell of the mother and the pleasant taste of the milk. There are also endorphins in the breast milk that have an impact, but we do not know exactly the role they play.”

Of course, breastfeeding may not be feasible or practical at every doctor’s appointment. Talk to your pediatrician if you think this strategy may be right for you and baby.

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