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J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2002 Jul-Aug;31(4):411-7.

Postpartum stress: current concepts and the possible protective role of breastfeeding.

Author information

1
The University of Tennessee, College of Nursing, Knoxville 37996-4180, USA. mgroer@utk.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To review stress during the postpartum and the research supporting that a unique, protective biology exists in breastfeeding mothers that may reduce reactivity to stress.

DATA SOURCES:

Publications from nursing and biomedical literature.

STUDY SELECTION:

Studies reviewed were those that have contributed to concurrent conceptualizations of postpartum stress. Additionally, studies with sufficient participants were analyzed for common findings. Animal literature was reviewed for studies on the stress response in lactating and nonlactating animal models.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Stress during the postpartum may be conceptualized as physical, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. Animal data and a few recent human studies suggest that the neuroendocrinology of the lactating mother may down-regulate the magnitude of the stress response.

DATA SYNTHESIS:

A diminished stress response may serve to protect the breastfeeding maternal-infant dyad from environmental stimuli and to direct the physiology of the mother toward milk production, energy conservation, and nurturance.

CONCLUSION:

Nurses understand the benefits of breastfeeding for optimal infant health, but new research suggests that maternal health may also be benefited in a biologic and as yet unexplored way.

PMID:
12146930
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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