Oxytocin is commonly used during labor to speed up the process. There is no current study information on the possible connection between oxytocin use and prefeeding cues. Delayed prefeeding cues could result in reduced breastfeeding rates as new mothers experience difficulty feeding soon after birth. Researchers from the Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago aimed to find out with a cohort study of 47 healthy newborns. Thirty-six of the infants were exposed to oxytocin in utero and 11 were used as the control group (no oxytocin use during labor). If the fetus experienced stress during birth, scored low on the Apgar test or was born via C-section or assisted vaginal labor they were excluded from the study.
Infants were videotaped after birth. The videotapes were analyzed for eight prefeeding cues. Reduced prefeeding cues were exhibited in a large percentage of the infants. About 95% showed delayed hand to mouth activity with 44% showing reduced prefeeding organization. Nearly 65% of the unexposed infants showed high prefeeding organization with 0% showing low prefeeding organization. Synthetic oxytocin use during labor may delay prefeeding cues.
Source: Bell AF, White-Traut R, Rankin K. Fetal exposure to synthetic oxytocin and the relationship with prefeeding cues within one hour postbirth. Bell AF, White-Traut R, Rankin K.