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Breastfeeding: it’s good for moms, too

Breastfeeding in the initial months postpartum reduces risk of depression

JOÃO ALEXANDRINOBreastfeeding in the initial months postpartum reduces risk of depressionJOÃO ALEXANDRINO

Most women are naturally well-equipped to produce the food their newborns need, but breastfeeding is harder than it looks. And it can also affect Mom’s health. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of suffering from postpartum depression than those who do not, according to a study of 14,000 births, published in the journal Maternal and Child Health on August 20, 2014. Through the survey, researchers from the United Kingdom and Spain found that mothers who intended to (and did) breastfeed after giving birth showed 50% lower rates of depression than those who never planned to (and did not). On the other hand, women who had planned to breastfeed, but were unable to, were twice as likely to become depressed than those who had never considered it and went straight to bottle-feeding. The survey suggests that breastfeeding not only benefits the babies themselves – as already shown in other studies – but it can also have positive effects on mothers. For this reason, the University of Cambridge researchers who coordinated the study defend that health authorities should encourage women to breastfeed, and should provide special support to those who are not comfortable with the idea. Only 47% of all babies born in   the United Kingdom in 2012 and 2013 were fed breast milk in their first weeks of life, demonstrating one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe.