Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: A Review of Relationships and Potential Mechanisms

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Purpose of Review

Postpartum depression (PPD) and breastfeeding are important, interrelated health factors. It is established that women who breastfeed exclusively have lowered likelihood of developing significant PPD. Yet, many questions remain around what factors are involved. The purpose of this review is to provide updated information about the relationship between PPD and breastfeeding.

Recent Findings

Both psychological and physiological factors have emerged as important moderators and mechanisms of the relationship between postpartum depression and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding self-efficacy, self-compassion, and engagement with the infant during feeding all modify or mediate the relationship, and a complex dynamic relationship among cortisol, oxytocin, progesterone, and estrogen is involved. Importantly, recent intervention studies suggest psychosocial interventions may impact both breastfeeding and mood.


Providers and researchers should recognize the interrelationship between the breastfeeding and PPD and apply this understanding to patient care through integrated education and care for both mood and breastfeeding enhancement.


Springer International Publishing