These cross the placenta and have been heavily linked with making baby sleepy and uncoordinated. Below is a clip showing the difference between non medicated and medicated infants at the breast immediately after birth.
Both are more heavily linked to breastfeeding problems postparum and shorter duration of exlusive feeding - either because baby is unco-ordinated/sleepy or because mum has found the birth very traumatic. Epidurals can also increase the risk of excess fluid retention causing breast oedema - which can result in baby then struggling to latch on the overfull breast.
Perhaps we should consider birthing in the same way we do breastfeeding - by establishing the biological norm?
According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (www.bfmed.org),
“unmedicated, spontaneous, vaginal birth with immediate skin-to-skin contact leads to the highest likelihood of baby-led breastfeeding initiation.”
Does that mean all is lost? Absolutely not!
When things "go wrong" with breastfeeding, more often than not it's a "cascade effect" - just like that described above. Let's go back to the mum with the sleepy/uninterested newborn - if they've had forceps, probably a headache too. Expecting baby to feed straight after birth, mum maybe tired gets concerned baby isn't latching on, next the midwives get twitchy and perhaps start talking about blood sugars and suchlike. Somewhere in and amongst this, baby is likely to have been taken off for routine weighing, which has also been shown to hinder effective establishment of breastfeeding.
Next perhaps grandparents pop in for a quick visit- and skin to skin is again cut short so the baby can be passed around for a cuddle; exposed the foreign microbes and not yet receiving any protection from mum's breastmilk. By now even the unmedicated, responsive term baby has settled down for a good snooze - let alone those that were tired or uncoordinated to begin with.
Next feed, mum may try again - or may decide already that baby took the bottle so easily he "clearly preferred it". Perhaps it hurts, mum can't get baby comfortable - which is more likely if feeding wasn't initiated immediately after birth, perhaps baby won't open wide enough to latch - due to his sore head; the solution again, another bottle.
Is the cascade inevitable?
This sounds too easy but ask for help - many many mothers don't. If the person who is looking after you isn't helping, ask to see someone else - ask if the hospital has a specialist, a lactation consultant or infant feeding advisor. If you don't take the bottle - often you find help is found somewhere, because after all they're all twitchy about blood sugars remember? Whilst there are times that supplementation is genuinely required - there are a lot more times that babies are needlessly supplemented. Read, read and read some more before your baby arrives - so you know what to expect, and what to do if things aren't working as well as you'd hoped.
For anyone who fancies a deeper read into the subject of how birth impacts this book is a fantastic read (Amazon US has reviews but not UK for some reason.)
On the subject of "normal birth", this is one of my favourites.