New Research on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression

New research by Ellen Homewood, Alison Tweed and Jon Crossley of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Leicester, and Michelle Cree of the Derbyshire Mental Health Services NHS Trust raises important issues on the relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Some of the mothers studied felt that pressure to breastfeed, (interpreted as the ability to successfully meet their babies need for nurturance) contributed to their already diminshed self esteem and feeling trapped by feelings of dependency and overwhelming responsibility for the babies well being. The research suggests the need for specific breastfeeding-related psychological support.

For other mothers in the study, breastfeeding provided reassurance of their ability to “satisfy, nurture and connect” with their babies.

“Clinical Psychologist Ellen Homewood commented: ‘The findings of our study into breastfeeding experiences in women with postnatal depression highlight the effects of women’s expectations about motherhood and breastfeeding on their behaviour and emotional experiences, and warn against the assumption that depressed mothers will not be able to breastfeed. The results also point to the need for further research into the potential benefits of breastfeeding for depressed mothers.'”

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