Drug Levels and Effects:

Summary of Use during Lactation:

Levobupivacaine has not ben studied during breastfeeding, butbupivacaine, which is the racemic mixture of levobupivacaine and dextrobupivacaine, has been studied.Bupivacainelevels in breastmilk are low, and it is not orally absorbed, amounts received by the infant are small and it has not caused any adverse effects in breastfed infants. Levobupivacaine is likely to be similar tobupivacaineduring breastfeeding.



labor and delivery with other anesthetics and analgesics has been reported by some to interfere with breastfeeding. However, this assessment is controversial and complex because of the many different combinations of drugs, dosages and patient populations studied as well as the variety of techniques used. In contrast, epiduralbupivacainebegun


clamping of the umbilical cord appears to enhance breastfeeding success because of improved pain control.

Drug Levels:

Levobupivacaine is the levo isomer ofbupivacaine, which is a racemic mixture of levo- and dextrobupivacaine.

Maternal Levels.

Bupivacainemilk levels were measured in 5 women who were given epiduralbupivacaineanalgesia (dosage not stated) for vaginal delivery.Bupivacainewas undetectable (<20 mcg/L) in all samples taken at 2, 8, 24 and 48 hours postpartum.[1]

One woman receivedbupivacaine50 mg intrapleurally, followed in 1 hour by a continuous infusion of 25 mg/hour for 5 days for operative and postoperative analgesia. Four milk samples were taken during the infusion. The milkbupivacainelevel was 400 mcg/L at 6 hours after the bolus dose and approximately 200 mcg/L at 24, 48 and 72 hours after the bolus dose.[2]

Twenty-two women received epidural lidocaine 2% andbupivacaine0.5% for pain control during cesarean delivery. Lidocaine dosage averaged 82 mg (range 25 to 168 mg). Average milkbupivacaineconcentrations were 90 mcg/L at 2 hours after delivery, 60 mcg/L at 4 hours after delivery and 40 mcg/L at 12 hours after delivery.[3]

Infant Levels.

One woman receivedbupivacaine50 mg intrapleurally, followed in 1 hour by a continuous infusion of 25 mg/hour for 5 days for operative and postoperative analgesia. Breastfeeding resumed postoperatively 22 hours after the start of the infusion. A serum sample taken from the infant 5 hours after the morning feeding on day 3 postoperatively (52.5 hours after the bolus dose) contained undetectable (lower limit not stated) amounts ofbupivacaineby gas chromatography.[2]

Effects in Breastfed Infants:

Bupivacaineadministered to the mother by intrapleural or epidural routes had no effect on 13 breastfed infants.[3]

Possible Effects on Lactation:

Thirty women who delivered by cesarean section received either spinal anesthesia (not defined) alone (n = 15) or spinal anesthesia plusbupivacaine(n = 15) by extradural infusion after clamping the umbilical cord. Abupivacainebolus of 12.5 mg was followed by a continuous infusion of 17.5 mg/hour for 3 days postpartum. Patients who receivedbupivacainehad better pain relief as indicated by lower pain scores and a lower consumption of supplemental diclofenac for pain.Bupivacaine-treated patients also produced more milk per day than the untreated women, a difference that was statistically significant from day 3 to the end of the study on day 11 postpartum. The authors concluded that improved pain relief improved breastfeeding performance.[4]

Twenty women who delivered by cesarean section received eitherbupivacainealone orbupivacaineplus buprenorphine by extradural infusion after clamping the umbilical cord. Abupivacainebolus of 12.5 mg was followed by a continuous infusion of 17.5 mg/hour for 3 days. The buprenorphine was given as a bolus of 200 mcg followed by 8.4 mcg/hour for 3 days. Patients started breastfeeding as soon as they were able to sit up. Both the amount of milk fed and infant weight increased in both groups over the first 10 days postpartum; however, the increases were greater in those who receivedbupivacainealone.[3][5]

A prospective cohort study compared women who received no analgesia (n = 63) to women who received continuous epidural analgesia with fentanyl and eitherbupivacaine0.05 to 0.1% (n = 39) or ropivacaine (n = 13) during labor and delivery. The total dosage ofbupivacainewas 31 to 62 mg and the average total infusion time from start to delivery was 219 minutes. The study found no differences between the groups in breastfeeding effectiveness or infant neurobehavioral status at 8 to 12 hours postpartum or the number exclusively or partially breastfeeding at 4 weeks postpartum.[6]

A randomized, prospective study measured infant breastfeeding behavior following epidural or intravenous fentanyl during delivery in 100 multiparous mothers undergoing cesarean section and delivering full-term, healthy infants. The epidural group received epiduralbupivacaine100 mg initially, followed by a continuous infusion of 25 mg/hour. The intravenous fentanyl group received a spinal injection of 15 to 20 mg ofbupivacaine. A slight difference was seen in breastfeeding behavior between the groups, with the infants in the intravenous fentanyl group performing slightly worse than those in the epidural group. However, all mothers were able to breastfeed their infants at 24 hours. None had severe breastfeeding problems; 10 women in the epidural group reported mild or moderate problems and 7 women in the intravenous group reported breastfeeding problems. Twenty mothers in the epidural group and 14 in the intravenous group used supplemental bottle feeding, with the difference not statistically significant.[7]

A randomized, but nonblinded, study in women undergoing cesarean section compared epidural anesthesia withbupivacaineto general anesthesia with intravenous thiopental 4 mg/kg and succinylcholine 1.5 mg/kg for induction followed by nitrous oxide and isoflurane. The time to the first breastfeed was significantly shorter (107 vs 228 minutes) with the epidural anesthesia than with general anesthesia. This difference was probably caused by the anesthesia's effects on the infant, because the Apgar and neurologic and adaptive scores were significantly lower in the general anesthesia group of infants.[8]

Alternate Drugs to Consider:



1. Naulty JS, Ostheimer G et al.Bupivacainein breast milk following epidural anesthesia for vaginal delivery. Reg Anesth. 1983;8:44-5. Abstract.
2. Baker PA, Schroeder D. Interpleuralbupivacainefor postoperative pain during lactation. Anesth Analg. 1989;69:400-2. PMID:2774239
3. Ortega D, Viviand X et al. Excretion of lidocaine andbupivacainein breast milk following epidural anesthesia for cesarean delivery. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1999;43:394-7. PMID:10225071
4. Hirose M, Hara Y et al. The effect of postoperative analgesia with continuous epiduralbupivacaineafter cesarean section on the amount of breast feeding and infant weight gain. Anesth Analg. 1996;82:1166-9. PMID:8638785
5. Hirose M, Hosokawa T, Tanaka Y. Extradural buprenorphine suppresses breast feeding after cesarean section. Br J Anaesth. 1997;79:120-1. PMID:9301399
6. Chang ZM, Heaman MI. Epidural analgesia during labor and delivery: effects on the initiation and continuation of effective breastfeeding. J Hum Lact. 2005;21:305-14. PMID:16113019
7. Goma HM, Said RN, El-Ela AM. Study of the newborn feeding behaviors and fentanyl concentration in colostrum after an analgesic dose of epidural and intravenous fentanyl in cesarean section. Saudi Med J. 2008;29:678-82. PMID:18454213
8. Sener EB, Guldogus N, Karakaya D et al. Comparison of neonatal effects of epidural and general anesthesia for cesarean section. Gynecol Obstet Investig. 2003;55:41-55. PMID:12624551

Substance Identification:

Substance Name:


CAS Registry Number:


Drug Class:

  • Anesthetics, Local

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