Objective: To review the literature on the association between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.
Sources: A review of literature found on MEDLINE/PubMed database.
Summary of findings: The literature consistently shows that breastfeeding provides a wide range of benefits for both the child and the mother. The psychological benefits for the mother are still in need of further research. Some studies point out that pregnancy depression is one of the factors that may contribute to breastfeeding failure. Others studies also suggest an association between breastfeeding and postpartum depression; the direction of this association is still unclear. Breastfeeding can promote hormonal processes that protect mothers against postpartum depression by attenuating cortisol response to stress. It can also reduce the risk of postpartum depression, by helping the regulation of sleep and wake patterns for mother and child, improving mother's self-efficacy and her emotional involvement with the child, reducing the child's temperamental difficulties, and promoting a better interaction between mother and child.
Conclusions: Studies demonstrate that breastfeeding can protect mothers from postpartum depression, and are starting to clarify which biological and psychological processes may explain this protection. However, there are still equivocal results in the literature that may be explained by the methodological limitations presented by some studies.
Keywords: Amamentação; Breastfeeding; Depressão na gravidez; Depressão pós-parto; Hormones; Hormônios; Postpartum depression; Pregnancy depression.
Copyright © 2013 Sociedade Brasileira de Pediatria. Published by Elsevier Editora Ltda. All rights reserved.