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. 2016 Nov;32(4):740-758.
doi: 10.1177/0890334416662241. Epub 2016 Sep 26.

Postpartum Anxiety and Infant-Feeding Outcomes


Postpartum Anxiety and Infant-Feeding Outcomes

Victoria Fallon et al. J Hum Lact. .


There is increasing evidence for the effect of postpartum anxiety (PPA) on maternal and infant health outcomes. Despite evidence linking suboptimal infant-feeding outcomes with other indices of maternal mental health, the relationship between PPA and infant feeding has not yet been reviewed. A systematic review with narrative synthesis was conducted to examine the relationship between PPA and infant-feeding outcomes. Electronic searches were performed using specific keywords (eg, "postnatal anxiet*"; "breastfeed*"). A hand search of selected journals and reference lists of included articles was then conducted. All studies were considered that provided information related to PPA and infant-feeding outcomes. One hundred and two studies were identified, of which 33 were eligible. Two authors independently extracted data including study design, participants, and results. Results indicated that women with symptoms of PPA are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and more likely to terminate breastfeeding earlier. Some evidence also suggests that those experiencing PPA are less likely to initiate breastfeeding and more likely to supplement with formula in the hospital. In those who do breastfeed, PPA reduces self-efficacy, increases breastfeeding difficulties, and may negatively affect breastfeeding behaviors and breast milk composition. Heterogeneous outcomes and methodological limitations somewhat limit the comparability of findings. However, in combination with a review linking depression with similar negative infant-feeding sequelae, the findings provide evidence for the effect of negative postpartum mood on breastfeeding. Additional support for breastfeeding mothers with PPA is warranted.

Keywords: breastfeeding; breastfeeding outcomes; maternal behavior; maternal health.

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