A new mom’s confidence can take a serious hit when she has a hard time getting her newborn to breastfeed. But a new study from the University of North Carolina shows us just how big a blow breastfeeding problems can be to a woman’s mental health. Even more disheartening: mothers who didn’t like breastfeeding at all were 1.42 times to be depressed within two months of delivery than other nursing moms.
The UNC study comes on the heels of a study at the University of California, San Francisco that goes deeper into what satisfaction with breastfeeding means for mothers. Researchers randomly assigned mothers who were having a hard time with breastfeeding to either express milk manually or use a pump. Those who expressed manually reported higher satisfaction with breastfeeding whereas the moms who pumped were less satisfied. In fact, moms who pumped were less likely than still be breastfeeding within two months than the other group of mothers. The UCSF researchers didn’t have hard and fast reasons for the discrepancies but they believe that it was a matter of comfort. Women who manually expressed milk were more comfortable feeding their babies in public but moms who pumped didn’t. Researchers also think the sheer size of the pump containers made mothers feel like they were inadequately feeding their babies even though mothers in both groups fed their babies enough.
So what does all this mean? For starters, researchers want doctors, moms, and their families to take breastfeeding frustrations seriously. Moms always hear breast is best, but what’s really best for her baby is a happy, healthy mom. What was breastfeeding like for you?