After a C-section, it’s common for women to experience chronic pain. To relieve some of that pain, breastfeeding may help, according to a new study.

A team of researchers from a hospital in Spain found that women who breastfeed their babies for at least 2 months post-surgery were three times less likely to experience continual pain compared to women who breastfed for less than two months.

Read: 111 Benefits Of Breastfeeding Your Baby, From Better Health To Lower Medical Expenses

The research, scheduled to be presented at the 2017 Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva, involved 185 mothers who underwent a caesarean section. They were all interviewed about breastfeeding patterns and their level of pain around the site of the incision in the first 24 hours and 72 hours after the C-section, and additionally 4 months later. Study author Carmen Alicia Vargas Berenjeno and colleagues also looked at how factors, such as surgical technique, a mother’s education and occupation, and anxiety during breastfeeding, can influence chronic pain. Any pain lasting longer than 12 weeks is considered chronic, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed,” the authors said in a statement. “It’s possible that anxiety during breastfeeding could influence the likelihood of pain at the surgical site 4 months after the operation.”

Read: 4 Fears That Keep Women From Breastfeeding: Why Nursing Can Be Hard To Start

More than half of the women in the study said they suffered from anxiety, which is characterized by feelings of nervousness, sweating, difficulty controlling worry, and trouble sleeping, among other symptoms. The authors are analyzing an additional set of data that shows when combined with data from the 185 mothers, anxiety is linked to chronic pain after a C-section.

Their current research showed that nearly all of the mothers in the study breastfed their babies, and more than half of them said they breastfed for two months or longer. The findings revealed that 23 percent of the women who breastfed for two months or less experienced chronic pain four months after their operation compared to 8 percent of the women who breastfed for longer than two months.

C-sections have become increasingly common in all parts of the world. In the United States, about one in three babies are delivered by C-section, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding provides many health benefits, and is actively promoted by the World Health Organization as “the best source of nourishment for infants and young children.” WHO recommends babies start getting breastfed within one hour of birth, and continue to exclusively feed on breast milk, if possible, for the first six months of life. In a statement, the study authors note that their work is one of the few research efforts that explores how breastfeeding impacts mothers’ chronic pain after C-section.

See also: Breastfeeding Babies Born Early May Lead To Higher IQ, Better Cognitive Skills Later In Life

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