Breast-feeding is associated with reduced perceived stress and negative mood in mothers

Health Psychol. 2002 Mar;21(2):187-93.


Two studies examined the effects of breast-feeding on maternal stress and mood. In Experiment 1, perceived stress in the past month was compared between 28 breast-feeding and 27 bottle-feeding mothers. Breast-feeding mothers reported less perceived stress, after controlling for demographic confounds. In Experiment 2, mood ratings were assessed in the same 24 mothers both before and then after 1 breast-feeding and 1 bottle-feeding session. Breast-feeding was associated with a decrease in negative mood, and bottle-feeding was associated with a decrease in positive mood from pre- to postfeeding. Results indicated that breast-feeding buffers negative mood. These effects appeared to be attributable to the effects of breast-feeding itself and not solely to individual-differences factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression*
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • United States


  • Oxytocin