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MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. 2007 Jan-Feb;32(1):10-7.

How does postpartum depression affect breastfeeding?

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William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, USA.



To examine patterns of exclusive breastfeeding, combination feeding, and exclusive bottle-feeding among a sample of women identified at 2-4 weeks postpartum with positive PPD symptoms.


The sample included 122 women who were part of a larger study testing an intervention for promoting maternal-infant interaction among women with elevated PPD symptoms. Data were collected during three postpartum home visits. Demographic and feeding pattern data were described. Variables related to and predictors of feeding pattern were analyzed. The sample was compared to a random sample of postpartum women in New England.


Severity of depression was not significantly related to breastfeeding. Older maternal age, living with a partner, and higher income were positively related to breastfeeding. Compared to a random sample, the level of exclusive breastfeeding was significantly lower in this sample than the level of combination feeding.


Nurses should be involved in screening all prenatal and postpartum women for PPD symptoms, particularly when they present with breastfeeding difficulties, and refer for treatment when appropriate. For breastfeeding mothers, PPD treatment must include consideration of therapeutic options as well as implications for the breastfeeding relationship. When appropriate treatment for PPD is being considered, thought should be given to the importance and value of breastfeeding to the mother.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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