To inform breastfeeding guidelines, a new comprehensive evaluation investigated the impact of nursing on a mother’s mental health.
The findings of this study have been published in the peer-reviewed journal Journal of Women’s Health. Megan Yuen and Olivia Hall of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and colleagues discovered that breastfeeding was connected with better maternal mental health outcomes in general. However, if a mother has difficulty nursing or if her expectations differ from her actual experience, breastfeeding is associated with bad mental health consequences.
Of the 36 studies that showed a statistically significant association between breastfeeding and mental health, 29 found breastfeeding to be related to reduced mental health symptoms, while one found breastfeeding to be associated with greater maternal mental health symptoms. 28 of the 34 studies that showed a statistically significant link between breastfeeding and postpartum depression symptoms discovered that breastfeeding was related to a lower incidence of postpartum depression symptoms.
“While breastfeeding is generally associated with improved maternal mental health, it can have negative mental health consequences if the mother experiences breastfeeding challenges or if the experience does not meet her expectations,” says Journal of Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Infectious Disease Center.