The Role of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression in Breastfeeding Practices

Soledad Coo, Maria Ignacia García, Andrea Mira, Verónica Valdés

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Maternal mental health difficulties are common during the perinatal period and have a negative impact on breastfeeding practices. Most research has focused on the role of postpartum depression, whereas maternal anxiety has been less studied, despite its high prevalence. A better understanding of the mental health variables that impact breastfeeding practices is necessary to support maternal and infant health and well-being. The aim of this study is to explore the association between breastfeeding practices and maternal mental health, with an emphasis on maternal anxiety. Materials and Methods: Two hundred twenty-nine women were followed from the third trimester of gestation to 3 and 6 months postpartum. The participants provided self-reports of depression, anxiety, and breastfeeding practices. Mental health symptoms were compared between participants who reported exclusive versus mixed breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum, and between mothers who maintained breastfeeding versus those who had weaned their infants at 6 months postpartum. Logistic regression analysis was used to explore the variables contributing to breastfeeding practices. Results: High levels of depressive symptoms during pregnancy were associated to nonexclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum. At 3 months postpartum, both high levels of anxiety and depression were associated with nonexclusive breastfeeding at that time. Logistic regression analyses revealed that exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum predicted breastfeeding continuation at 6 months after childbirth. Conclusion: Both maternal depression and anxiety negatively impact breastfeeding practices. Early identification of maternal mental health problems during the perinatal period is relevant to promote maternal emotional well-being and to prevent breastfeeding difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-500
Number of pages6
JournalBreastfeeding medicine : the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • anxiety
  • breastfeeding
  • depression
  • postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Health Policy
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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