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Physical health, breastfeeding problems and maternal mood in the early postpartum

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eMediNexus Editorial    25 May 2018

A recent study published in Archives of Women’s Mental Health, prospectively evaluated the impact of maternal physical health and/or breastfeeding problems on maternal mood (depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, confusion, vigor) at 8-weeks postpartum. The study participants were recruited antenatally from a public and a private maternity hospital. In all, 229 nulliparous pregnant women, ≥ 18 years of age, ≥ 36-week gestation, singleton pregnancy and knowing sufficient English were recruited in the study. Data were collected by self-report questionnaire (pregnancy, weeks 1-4 postpartum) and telephone interview (week 8 postpartum). A high burden of physical problems was classified as ≥ 3 problems (cesarean/perineal pain; back pain; constipation; hemorrhoids; urinary and bowel incontinence) for ≥ 2 time points. A high burden of breastfeeding problems was categorized as having ≥ 2 problems (mastitis; nipple pain; frequent expressing; over- or under-supply of milk) for ≥ 2 time points. Multivariate linear regression helped assess the relationship between maternal mood, assessed using Profile of Mood States (8-week postpartum), and a high burden of breastfeeding and/or physical health problems. Forty-six women (20.1%) were found to have a high burden of physical symptoms, 44 (19.2%) had a high burden of breastfeeding problems only and 25 women (11.0%) had both. A high burden of breastfeeding problems alone or with physical problems was significantly associated with poorer maternal mood at 8 weeks. Therefore, early, and appropriate postnatal treatment of maternal health and breastfeeding problems can possibly reduce womens risk for poor mental health.

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