Background and aims: The benefits of breastfeeding for infants are well known. Recently data have started to emerge showing that breastfeeding may also induce positive effects in the mother. This study aimed to investigate the pattern of maternal blood pressure before, during, and after a breastfeed 2 days postpartum. Additionally, blood pressure during the following 25-week breastfeeding period was investigated.
Methods: Sixty-six primiparae with normal deliveries were consecutively recruited. Blood pressure was measured at -5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes in connection with a morning breastfeed. Thirty-three women continued to measure blood pressure before and after breastfeeding for 25 weeks.
Results: Blood pressure fell significantly in response to breastfeeding 2 days after birth. The fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure amounted to 8.8 (SD = 11.00) and 7.7 (SD = 9.3) mm Hg, respectively. During the 25-week follow-up period a significant fall of basal blood pressure (systolic, df = 3, F = 7.843, p < 0.001; diastolic, df = 3, F = 5.453, p = 0.002) was observed. The total fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure amounted to a mean of 15 (SD = 10.4) mm Hg and 10 (SD = 9.7) mm Hg, respectively. In addition, blood pressure fell significantly in response to individual breastfeeding sessions during the entire observation period.
Conclusions: In conclusion, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures fall during a breastfeeding session, and pre-breastfeeding blood pressure decreases during at least the first 6 months of a breastfeeding period in a homelike environment. This study lends further support to the health-promoting effects of breastfeeding.