Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Breastfeeding problems may increase depression risk


Breastfeeding difficulties may increase the risk of developing postnatal depression, according to researchers from Swansea University.

They found that stopping breastfeeding due to pain or physical difficulties predicted an increased risk of postnatal depression.

In contrast, stopping for other reasons, such as social reasons or embarrassment, did not.

The findings highlight the importance of support for women who experience difficulties during breastfeeding, said the study authors in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

The study involved 217 women with an infant aged 0-6 months who had started breastfeeding at birth but had stopped before six months old.

“If we want more women to breastfeed, we really need to invest in the support systems to enable them to do so”

Amy Brown

They completed a questionnaire examining breastfeeding duration and reasons for stopping breastfeeding, as well as a copy of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

The study authors said understanding women’s specific reasons for stopping breastfeeding, rather than breastfeeding duration, was “critical” in understanding their experience and providing women with emotional support.

Issues with pain and physical breastfeeding were most indicative of postnatal depression in comparison to psychosocial reasons, they said, highlighting the importance of spending time with new mothers to help them with issues, such as latch.

“We know that many new mothers want to breastfeed but often that they experience difficulties in doing so,” said lead author Dr Amy Brown.

“Although the majority of women should be able to breastfeed, issues such as complications during delivery, time-pressured health professionals, and a lack of experience of what breastfeeding is really like, can all make breastfeeding more difficult,” she said.

“If we want more women to breastfeed, we really need to invest in the support systems to enable them to do so,” she added.


Readers' comments (3)

  • It is a predicament; we all know that breastfeeding is best for baby, however interaction between baby and mother can sometimes be damaged due to difficulties experienced. Perhaps it is because mothers are told how 'natural' breast feeding is, so do not expect any problems. I know from experience as a mother, a midwife, and neonatal nurse that breast feeding often requires patience and perseverance. Considering the average stay in postnatal units is probably about 20 hours, then it is easy to see why so many mothers give up. I have been told by new mothers that they only said they were going to breast feed to seem to 'comply' with the midwives preference, and gave baby the bottle once they were home. Yet others have said they were put off breast feeding when they realised baby would not be offered any other drink if the breast was refused. Despite this many mothers do persevere but if not supported sufficiently in the community they often still fail and as a result may become unsure of their ability to care for their child.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I feel there is too much pressure put on new mothes to breastfeed and what many midwives and health visitors fail to understand is that it is a choice!
    I chose to bottlefeed both of my children and the way I was made to feel by midwives and their attitude towards me in hospital was quite frankly, disgusting.
    As a senior staff nurse in a busy acute admissions ward I would hate to think my attitude would make anyone feel isolated or alone!
    And for the record, both my children are healthy and happy with absolutely no side effects from being bottlefed. They also have fabulous diets due to the wonderful fresh food that I cooked and fed them as soon as weaning started which in my opinion was the most important thing for me. Makes me chuckle when all these mothers breastfeed then move on to the next stage of only feeding their children all the processed muck that is in jars and packet food.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To anonymous, well said, I was previously a midwife and a mother, and never made any of my women feel bad because they chose not to breastfeed, as you say, it is a choice, it is their baby and their body. I didnt breast feed my chilfren either, through choice, and was made to feel the same as you, which is why, when I became a midwife, I swore I would never act that way. As long as the baby is being fed, should it really matter.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.