According to various studies and surveys conducted, there is a definite relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum depression. The results of these studies point out that women who breastfed their babies were at a lower risk of developing postpartum depression than mothers who relied on baby food and other formulations, instead of breastfeeding.
Here is an extract from a study conducted by physicians with respect to the relationship between breastfeeding, postpartum depression as well as infant attachment. The relationship is complicated, but there it exists. For this study, 52 women volunteers who intended to breastfeed were recruited, of which some had a past history of anxiety or depression whereas some of the women did not have. The mothers were assessed during their pregnancy by completing questionnaires, collecting baseline blood samples and psychiatric interviews. Postpartum mothers came to the lab at 2 to 8 weeks and their hormone levels were measured while breastfeeding. It was observed that those mothers who had high oxytocin levels were found to have low scores of EPDS which is a standard measure for depression. These studies were conducted at the National Institutes of Health.
Many women also reported to feels relaxed while breastfeeding, due to the oxytocin hormone secreted during feeding. Oxytocin promotes relaxation and nurturing behavior. Another study pointed out that mothers who had high levels of oxytocin in their blood had lower blood pressure when asked to recollect some stressful event or personal problem.
What is important to know is that some new mothers can breastfeed whereas others can’t due to various factors like depression, other medical problems and so on. It is however not a hindrance to having a loving relationship with the baby, later on in life. For some mothers with post-partum depression, they are advised against breastfeeding, because it worsens their symptoms and they may even develop a dislike for their babies. Choosing to breastfeed the baby is, therefore, a personal choice of the mother and she can abstain from it, In Case of any medical complications.
The relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is still not very clear and studies are being conducted to know the details. However, it is believed that breastfeeding does help to combat postpartum depression in new mothers.