The Relationship Between Breastfeeding Practices and Postpartum Depressive Symptoms at Six Months Postpartum in Appalachian Women

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Introduction: Postpartum Depression and postpartum depressive symptoms have been found to have a strong association with breastfeeding duration in a significant portion of women across a variety of geographical locations. The aim of this study was to explore the correlation between postpartum depressive symptoms at 6 months postpartum and total duration of breastfeeding measured at 15 months postpartum in Appalachian women. Methods: A longitudinal study was conducted in which 1,063 mostly low socioeconomic status women were recruited across 6 prenatal practices in Appalachia. At 6 weeks, 6 months, and 15 months postpartum, depressive symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). From the original sample, 134 completed a self-report measure of breastfeeding initiation and duration at 15 months postpartum. Results: EPDS score did not predict whether or not women breastfed, only their duration of breastfeeding. Women who scored in the clinically significant range (13 or higher) on the EPDS at 6 months postpartum breastfed a significantly shorter length of time (Mean = 1.75 months, SD = 2.70) than women who scored below 13 on the EPDS (Mean = 4.48 months, SD 5.22; t(133) = 3.61, p = .001). Conclusion: Clinically significant Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores were predictive of shorter duration of breastfeeding.


Johnson City, TN

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