For new mothers, a major decision is whether to breastfeed or not. What many mothers might not consider in making this decision, is how breastfeeding could impact mental health as well as physical health of both mother and infant.
August is National Breastfeeding Month, and this month also includes World Breastfeeding Week from the 1st to 7th of August. Experts share information regarding breastfeeding and mental health.
Although many mothers and health experts highly encourage breastfeeding and list its numerous benefits such as stress relief, other research suggests breastfeeding is not as beneficial as most people think.
Researchers at Norwegian University of Science and Technology examined other studies on breastfeeding, and conducted their own, and believe the only possible benefit of breastfeeding is that it might give infants a slight IQ boost, and even that is questionable.
Some women even argue against breastfeeding. Anastasia de Waal wrote an opinions piece in The Guardian suggesting that breastfeeding is not always the best choice, and in fact it might even be the worst choice for several reasons.
“The danger of a ‘breast is best’ campaign is that it can make mothers feel like they have failed their baby,” de Waal stated.
“Perhaps just weeks after their baby is born, an exhausted (and perhaps prone to post-natal depression) mother does not need an extra pressure. For some women, breastfeeding can be excruciating, and the feed not a bonding time but a period when the baby that keeps you up all night and feels like a monster sucking the life out of you. Establishing this kind of relationship with your baby is more likely to build up harmful resentment than a healthy nurturing instinct.”
Hanna Rosin, a mother of three, wrote an article in The Atlantic supporting a “case against breast-feeding.” By reading multiple scientific studies on the potential benefits of breastfeeding, she found that most results were “inconsistent.”