Researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a study on 14,000 new mothers in South West England. Tthey found that apart from the already known benefits of breastfeeding, it can also reduce the risk of postnatal depression by 50 per cent.
Their study is published in the journal of Maternal and Child Health. The researchers from the University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London as well as an expert from the University of Seville in Spain pointed at the positive impact breastfeeding has on a woman's mental health.
One of the authors from the University of Cambridge's Department of Sociology, Dr. Maria Lacovou said, "Breastfeeding has well-established benefits to babies, in terms of their physical health and cognitive development; our study shows that it also benefits the mental health of mothers."
There is a huge problem of depression among mothers who are unable to breastfeed. One in 10 women are said to suffer from depression after the delivery of their child. The study identified a few factors contributing to the depression, there is an increased risk of depression among the women who initially plan on breastfeeding their child but are then unable to do so. They also found out that these women were twice as likely to be depressed as those who do not plan on breastfeeding their child.
Depression does not merely take a toll on the mother but has negative effects on the child as well. The study brought to light for previous instances of maternal depression that gives an impact to the child's development in a negative way. She stated that improving the health of the mother would also help the baby.
A senior policy adviser at parenting charity NCT, Rosemary Dodds said that mothers go through pressure after they give birth. They experience pain and anxiety and there is a shortage of sleep that further contributes to the problem.
She said that breastfeeding can help reduce a mother's stress and calm her, so it might play a part in preventing mental health issues developing.
"We welcome further research into this subject as perinatal mental health is a huge issue for many mothers. At least one in ten suffer with postnatal depression," stated Dodds.