The relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2012;43(3):243-59. doi: 10.2190/PM.43.3.d.


Introduction: The purpose was to investigate the possible correlation or predictive relationship between breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression (PPD).

Method: We conducted a prospective study in which 137 Arab women were assessed during pregnancy and postpartum. Current breastfeeding was correlated with postpartum outcomes (EPDS and MINI), employment, and use of formula at 2 and 4 months postpartum, as well as with other variables.

Results: Women who were breastfeeding at 2 and 4 months had lower scores on EPDS (p < 0.0037 andp < 0.0001, respectively) and were less likely to be diagnosed with PPD at 4 months (p < 0.0025). Higher scores on EPDS and diagnosis of PPD at 2 months were predictive of lower rates of breastfeeding at 4 months (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.005, respectively). Women who were employed and using formula at 2 months were less likely to breastfeed at 4 months (p < 0.0001). Breastfeeding women at 2 months had lower scores on EPDS (p < 0.003) and were less likely to be diagnosed with PPD (p <0.05) at 4 months.

Discussion: The results indicate that women who breastfeed their infants reduced their risk of developing PPD, with effects being maintained over the first 4 months postpartum. PPD may also decrease the rate of breastfeeding, suggesting a reciprocal relationship between these variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arabs
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • United Arab Emirates