The influence of obstetric factors on breast-feeding rates at discharge from St. Thomas's Hospital in 1969 and 1970 has been examined in 1356 primiparous mothers delivering healthy babies. Induction of labour and assisted delivery were significantly associated with lower breast-feeding rates. The association could not be explained by differences in social class, country of origin, birthweight, anaesthesia in labour, or medical reasons for induction and assisted delivery. The most likely explanation is that induction and assisted delivery are associated with delay in starting breast-feeding. However, trends in obstetric management of labour and delivery are unlikely to have a large influence on the incidence of breast-feeding compared with the influence of social and cultural factors.
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