Symptoms of postpartum depression and breastfeeding

J Hum Lact. 2005 Nov;21(4):444-9; quiz 450-4. doi: 10.1177/0890334405280947.


Despite important health benefits, the presence of depressive symptoms may decrease the prevalence of breastfeeding. The current study assessed the relationship between depressive symptoms and breastfeeding at 6 and 12 weeks postpartum. Participants were recruited from a cohort completing a clinical trial of calcium for prevention of preeclampsia. At 6 weeks postpartum, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was completed by mail. At 12 weeks postpartum, the EPDS was completed at an outpatient visit. There was an inverse relationship between depressive symptoms and breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum (P<.001) but not at 12 weeks. This relationship persisted even after controlling for prior history of depression, increased life stress, and current psychoactive medication. The results suggest that depressive symptoms early in the postpartum period may lower the prevalence of breastfeeding.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Feeding / epidemiology*
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Depression, Postpartum / complications*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Time Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Calcium