The Relationship between Maternal Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Anxiety and Duration of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a vital public health strategy for improving infant morbidity and mortality as well as maternal morbidity outcomes. However, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (2011), U.S. mothers consistently fail to meet the recommended one-year duration of breastfeeding. While extensive literature exists exploring barriers to breastfeeding, there is limited and conflicting research on maternal mental health as a barrier to breastfeeding. The purpose of this study was to determine if mothers who suffer from postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety have different breastfeeding duration than mothers who do not. Using a cross-sectional design, a sample (n = 252) of mothers from Maryland was analyzed using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pregnancy Risk and Monitoring System (PRAMS) from 2017 and 2018. It was determined that postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression appear to be independent from duration of breastfeeding. This is in opposition to the current body of literature, and more studies with larger sample sizes are needed to examine the possible relationship between maternal mental health and breastfeeding duration. Specifically, studies that include more questions pertaining to postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety would be beneficial.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Health Education