Author ORCID Identifier
Kiyoko Mizuhata https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6198-9081
Hatsumi Taniguchi https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9999-7653
Mieko Shimada https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8165-6436
Naoko Hikita https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0395-9623
Seiichi Morokuma https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5995-0017
Problem: The effects of breastfeeding on postpartum depression symptoms and stress using physiological measures require investigation.
Background: Breastfeeding suppresses the secretion of cortisol. Oxytocin levels correlate negatively with symptoms of postpartum depression.
Aim: To investigate the effects of breastfeeding on stress and postpartum depression.
Methods: We examined 79 breastfeeding women using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale-10, and the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale, and measured the salivary cortisol levels before and after breastfeeding.
Findings: There was a negative correlation between the duration of suckling and changes in salivary cortisol levels following breastfeeding (rs = −0.333, p < 0.05). Salivary cortisol levels immediately following breastfeeding were significantly lower compared to mothers who used mixed feeding methods p < 0.001.
Breastfeeding mothers had lower perceived stress than mothers using mixed feeding methods (β = −0.260, p < 0.05). There was no association between breastfeeding and postpartum depression; however, there was an association between postpartum depression and perceived stress (β = 0.622, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Salivary cortisol levels significantly decreased following breastfeeding, with longer suckling times correlating with lower cortisol levels. Breastfeeding reduced stress and increased breastfeeding self-efficacy.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research(B) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (Subject No.16H05585 for Mieko SHIMADA).
Mizuhata, K., Taniguchi, H., Shimada, M., Hikita, N., & Morokuma, S. (2020). Effects of Breastfeeding on Stress Measured by Saliva Cortisol Level and Perceived Stress. Asian / Pacific Island Nursing Journal, 5(3).