To explore the relationship between infant feeding and maternal mental well-being among women of Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity; and to explore the sources of advice, information and support available to women before and after childbirth.
A cross-sectional survey of infant feeding and maternal well-being via structured interviews conducted in the home.
Home visits within two inner-city wards of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Eighty-six women of South Asian ethnicity.
Enjoyment of everyday activities was higher among women who breast-fed only (P = 0.028); whereas feeling sad or crying during pregnancy was lower among breast-feeding women (P = 0.005), as was not sleeping well (P = 0.003) and feeling that everything was too much (P = 0.039), compared with women who used formula or mixed feeding. Women who breast-fed only had better mean mood scores than those who formula-fed or those who both breast-fed and formula-fed (P < 0.001). Mean mood responses were also significantly associated with the mother’s level of understanding of English and number of years in education (P = 0.005 and P = 0.003, respectively). The association between method of feeding and maternal mood remained strong after controlling for the effects of English language and maternal education.
The study suggests that breast-feeding may be an important mediator of maternal mental well-being after childbirth. Community-based programmes tailored to the needs of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women which support breast-feeding and encourage exclusive breast-feeding may be of benefit.